Philippe Starck gives his thoughts on his beginnings, technology, and design in this latest interview with EQWEP



Who are you?

PHILIPPE STARCK - “It's an impossible question to answer. Nobody knows who they are, especially me. Professionally, some say that I am a designer; not really. Others say that I am an architect; not really. I know that I am a creator, but more importantly, I am an explorer. I explore us. I explore our history. I explore our life. I explore our mutation, the evolution from the bacteria we were some thousand years ago to what we shall become. I explore that because we – humans - are incredible. We are geniuses. We are the only animal species that took control of the speed and quality of its evolution. We cannot but have admiration for humanity. This is my job. This is my passion. It is to understand Us and try to help my community. Sadly, I cannot create life - beyond having children of my own and I also cannot save life. But perhaps through design, I can help my community to have a better life. This is what we try to do with brands such as Duravit. And This is what I am, a professional dreamer.”



What inspires you?

Ph.S. - “I am inspired by the beautiful book, the beautiful movie, the beautiful music of our evolution. We are on a train, where we are having a big party and everything is fun. Some of us don't remember where we come from, which is stupid as we always must remember; some are not interested to know where we are going, which is also stupid as the beauty of life is to try to understand what comes next. This is what inspires me.”



From kitchen and bathroom devices and equipment, utility is key. What are the main parameters in creation today?

Ph.S. - “Function, harmony, longevity, humanity. I am not an artist. I do not make sculptures. Sculpture has another function. It is on display in museums, it creates emotions, and this is fantastic. I myself do not make art. I make chairs, cars, bicycles, I make things to be used. When you make a chair on which one cannot sit, it becomes a sculpture, and you are no longer a designer but an artist. I love to always have a reason to create and to only use the energy and the material coming from our planet for a useful reason. This is why I love making functional things. Function comes first. But there are a lot of different functions, from the basic ones like comfort, weight, cost, resistance, to the more abstract ones such as poetry or being a conversation starter. I don’t care about aesthetics, because when you work with aesthetics, you are fashionable and, by definition, fashions always go out of trend. We do not have enough energy, money, or material to replace everything every three months. Fashion as we knew it is dead. For this reason, I prefer to think about harmony and longevity rather than beauty. If you buy a dress, you have to buy it for yourself, for your daughter and for your granddaughter. Longevity is the most modern parameter. Finally, we must never forget that we are human, and we should be proud to work for humanity.”




Is ever-evolving technology, changing the design world and your way to create?

Ph.S. - “Some people create with a computer. Good for them, but it is not good for me. They will be creative but only within the glass box of the computer program that somebody else created. It's like a fly, trapped in a box. It can fly anywhere, but always in within that box. With tracing paper and a pencil, I can make whatever I want and I can make it very fast. There is no required battery, no wires, no plugging. I never use a computer to create – I actually never use a computer at all. My team then obviously develops the creations on the computer. It does not make the product better, but we save time and time is very, very, very important. However, I have had a fantastic experience creating a chair called A.I. for Kartell, an Italian furniture company. I was very bored one day, so I thought to myself “you are a devil of creativity but in the end, it’s always the same as what other people do”. For the first time in my life, I had a feeling that I needed a little help from a friend. I went to see the best A.I. (Artificial Intelligence) company in the world, based in California and called Autodesk. I asked them if I could use their brain, their machine. These charming people accepted and let me do what I wanted with it. The idea was that the machine would create what I needed, without any memory, any culture, any humanity input, something coming completely out of nowhere. I asked the machine to help me rest my body with the minimum of material and the minimum of energy. That was all. At first, the computer was completely lost. It took it two years and a half to find a solution. Suddenly, after many back-and-forth and mistakes, the machine had a flash. It finally created the A.I., which is today a chair to rest our body using the minimum of energy and material. It was what I wanted and it is done. The A.I. was better than me.”



What is your favorite room in the house and why?

Ph.S. - “The best room is where my bed is because, in my bed, there is my wife. The second is my shower. I spend hours in there. I know it is not ecological but, in the shower, my brain flies somewhere else, to fantastic territories. Then comes the kitchen because there is the fire, which is the center of life.”



How do Imagine the perfect bathroom?

Ph.S. - “The perfect bathroom does not look like a bathroom. It looks like a salon, a bedroom, an office or whatever you want. Bathrooms only appeared in houses at the beginning of the 20th century. People were then fascinated by hygiene, which by the way became a big issue afterwards. For hygienic reasons, bathrooms were all white and clean and today we still think of bathrooms as machines to wash ourselves. Yet, we no longer need this. I like designing bathtubs and sinks that go into the bedroom; the bedroom becomes the living room and the living room becomes the kitchen. Everything is mixed. The only rule to the perfect bathroom is freedom, freedom to respect your own taste – good or bad, it does not matter, as long as it is yours.”



You have been working with Duravit for more than 25 years. What is the secret of this long-lasting collaboration?

Ph.S. - “It is not a collaboration. It is a love affair. To love people, you need respect. You respect them because they are honest, intelligent, open-minded, fun, elegant. You respect and love them for human reasons, which have strictly no relation with business or work. With respect, everything becomes very, very, very, very easy. When we meet at the factory, I am very happy and we all have a lot of fun. We joke a lot and we keep serious talks to a minimum. That’s the beauty: to have fun and joy during all the process. I have never had with anyone the 25 years love affair that I have with Duravit. Of course, I shall do it with my fantastic wife, yet we are still at 17 years.”


Products Designed By Philippe STARCK