It does, you know. You just have to get it hot enough.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Philippe Starck Gives Two Years Notice

Phillipe Starck, for reasons unclear, has thrown in the towel. He’s not just quitting, he’s describing all of his past work as, “Everything I designed was unnecessary.” The original interview is in German, which I can’t read; but there are a couple of English summaries, this is the one I’m referencing.

To be honest, I kinda sorta agree with him on unnecessary design when it comes to design in general in the US. I like our Alessi Diobolix bottle opener, and it makes me smile when I use it. But if it didn’t work properly, I’d either throw it out or hang it on the wall. The same goes for Starck’s $80 juicer that is more sculpture than function, even Starck admits it’s not a very good juicer.

How many decades have we spent with product design used to make things redundant before their natural life is over or difficult to use just for the sake of visual style? How many years did Detroit do nothing with their cars other than change the shape, unless forced by some government agency? Sure, you can make things function better with design — and that’s why I’m studying design — but how many designers out there are creating things knowing they will have a short life span then be discarded? How many clothes go to an early grave simply because the trendsetters say the clothes are out? How much cheap IKEA-like furniture have I bought in my life, only to toss it in the dumpster after it fails to survive a couple of moves?

The other quote that caught my eye was this:
“I will definitely give up in two years’ time. I want to do something else, but I don’t know what yet. I want to find a new way of expressing myself …design is a dreadful form of expression.”

Which got me to thinking — maybe Starck is an example of what happens when sculptors and visual artists start working in the product design world instead of being artisans. When I here someone say they want to express themselves or communicate some greater truths, I usually assume they are an artist. I know people who love to write software (a valid means of expression) but who loathe working in the software development industry. Personally, I like cooking and like to think I’m a pretty good cook, but probably I’d slit my wrists after a few days on the line. I’d really like to know what set Starck off in this new direction.

When I started this journey, I was worried that after only a few months someone was going to pull me aside and say, “Hey, just so you know. Design isn’t for you. Sculpture’s over in the next building and we’ll arrange a transfer and get you all set up.” That hasn’t happened (and I don’t think it will), but in the past couple of years I’ve learned a lot about myself and the world as I try to seriously study this whole design thing.

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posted by jet at 20:02  

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