Intelligent Design: Two Modern Masters Step Into the World of Phillipe Starck and Raymond Loewy
To enter the world of design master Phillippe Starck is to be engulfed in the unexpected, the subversive, and the utterly beautiful. His products and spaces both astonish and delight, while attempting to fulfill his vision of simply making the world a better place. His wide-ranging work spans from stunning interior designs, to iconic furniture, to mass-produced consumer goods. Starck has lent his vision to everything from toothbrushes, to chairs, to power producing windmills.
The son of an aeronautical engineer, Philippe Starck was born in Paris in 1949. At the tender age of twenty, Starck became art director at Pierre Cardin. After launching his own design firm he refurbished the private apartment of Francois Mitterrand and skyrocketed to fame with his stunning work on the Café Costes in Paris. For Starck, everything in life presents a creative challenge and a chance to bring his original vision into being. No matter what form his projects take, they all are guided by his desire to improve the lives of as many people as possible through design.
In Starck’s world, no object is too ordinary and no concept is too large to be transformed by design. Everything he creates becomes stylized and streamlined, with an organic sensual form that raises it above its everyday function. One of his most iconic designs, the Juicy Salif, is a simple lemon squeezer whose starkly modern, squid inspired construction appeared to him while squeezing a lemon over a dish of calamari.
One of the best ways to gain access to the mind of this visionary is to visit one of the many restaurants and hotels that bear his maverick style.
Starck’s Katsuya in Los Angeles is a modern temple to sushi that has helped reinvent time-honored Japanese cuisine by transforming the dining experience into a feast for every sense. In New York, receive a healthy portion of Starck chic in the Mezzanine Restaurant of the Paramount Hotel, where the eclectic Mediterranean and Asian-accented menu reflects Starck’s desire to mash-up and reinvent the ordinary.
Hotels are the essence of a Starck experience. At the Royalton Hotel in New York, Starck’s clean lines and elegant minimalism create a sophisticated retreat from the bustle of the city. The ultra modern Mondrian in Los Angles helps breath hip new life into an over-looked section of Sunset Boulevard.
For those of us who need a daily dose of design, Starck’s wide range of furniture and house wares make it possible to make his playful and challenging aesthetic part of everyday life. The modern design chain, Design Within Reach, carries a wide range of objects to help bring a little Starck into your home.
As astounding as Starck’s career has been, it would not have been possible without the work of Raymond Loewy, the grandfather of French modern industrial designers. Loewy was born in France in 1893. After serving in the French army in World War I, Loewy came to the United States nearly penniless and went on to transform the look and feel of everyday American life with his sleek and pragmatic style.
Beginning with a commission to redesign a popular duplicating machine, Loewy’s career gained speed. He designed the interior of the Boeing 307 for Howard Hughes and moved on to reimaging steam locomotives for the Pennsylvania Railroad. Loewy went from planes, to trains, to the essence of the American consumer lifestyle, the car. His iconic bullet-nose Studebakers is considered to be one of the most gorgeous cars ever made. Ironically, the car was derided at the time as a bizarre and unattractive monstrosity. Loewy followed this up with the jaw-dropping beauty of the Avanti, which became an instant classic.
Loewy set the stage for designers like Starck by taking on a wide range of products. For a while in the 1950s and 60s, it seemed that nothing was left untouched by Loewy. From the white Lucky Strike package, to the Schick electric razor, to the Coca-Cola bottle, in the middle of the 20th century Lowey was everywhere. Lowey continued to work until his death at the age of ninety-three, bringing his style far beyond the shores of Earth with his interior designs for NASA’S Skylab.
As Lowey famously said, “ugly doesn’t sell.” This message to future designers is a motto Starke has taken to heart.
You may also like to read:
Season In The City: Salzburg Easter Festival
Explore Historic Salzburg While Taking In The World Famous Festival.