Philippe Starck

(b. 1949) French interior designer

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(1949– )

One of the most widely known of artist‐designer ‘names’ in the later 20th and early 21st centuries, Starck is one of France's most fêted designers who has worked across a wide range of media. His work epitomizes the intersection of art and design, its often fanciful qualities attracting both critical approbation and criticism, particularly in such commissions as pasta for Panzani (1987). His clients have included many leading international companies with a commitment to extending the visual syntax of design in Europe, the United States, and the Far East. These have included Alessi, Cassina, Driade, Flos, and Vitra. After attending the École Nissim de Camondo in Paris in the 1960s he established a company for the production of inflatable products in 1968. In the following decade he designed a series of nightclubs, establishing the Starck Product Company in 1979. Starck's celebrity status owed much to the design policies of the French State, following the establishment of the VIA (Valorisation pour l'Innovation dans l'Ameublement) in 1980 under the Ministry of Industry and its involvement with designers such as Martin Szekely, Garouste and Bonetti, and Starck himself. He designed a suite of rooms for President Mitterand at the Élysée Palace in Paris in 1982, a commission that led to considerable media attention. His interest in interior design continued during the rest of the decade with commissions in Japan, Spain, and France, the latter including the Café Costes in Paris in 1984 with a three‐legged chair that was put into production by the Italian furniture manufacturer Driade. He also designed a number of hotel interiors, such as those of the Royalton (1988) and Paramount (1990) hotels for the entrepreneur Ian Schrager, and was also involved with the design of the Groningen Museum (1991) in the Netherlands.

His collaboration with Driade commenced in 1985 and, in addition to the Costes Chair, included the Ubik range (1985) and the Lord Yo chair (1994). Another significant collaboration with Italian manufacturing industry was with Alessi, commencing in 1986, and incorporated such iconic products as the Hot Bertaa kettle and Juicy Salif lemon squeezer (1990). Much of his work was highly individualistic, with strong artistic leanings. On occasion his work was literally experimental, as in his competition design of a plastic bottle for the mineral water company Vittel in 1986. On other occasions he paid homage to the fine arts, typified by his celebrated toothbrush (1990) for Fluocaril, a brand name of Goupil Laboratories, its sinuous form paying homage to the work of the sculptor Brancusi. Reference to other fields of creativity embraced film, acknowledging the work of a fashionable director in his design of the Wim Wenders stool (1992) for Vitra. Lighting designs ranged from the intimate to the large scale, such as the playful Miss Sissi table lamps (1991) and Romeo Babe pendant light (1996) for Flos and distinctive street lamps (1992) for Decaux. Industrial designs have also, since 1990, culminated in audio‐visual products for Thomson such as the Rock 'n Role CD player, the Lux Lux television, and the Perso mobile phone, as well as the Moto 6.5 motorcycle for Aprilia. Amongst other notable commissions were an imaginary house for Les 3 Suisses and the Good Goods catalogue for La Radoute in which, in 1998, he presented over 200 product ideas.


Subjects: Industrial and Commercial Art.

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