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Phillippe Starck: Humour Is the Best Symptom of Intelligence
Architecture + Design

Phillippe Starck: Humour Is the Best Symptom of Intelligence

French designer Philippe Starck talks about hanging out with fisherman, searching for happiness, and buying more and more copies of furniture he made.

Does the ‘World’s Most Successful and Famous Designer’ title bother you at all?

– I’m proud that they recognise my work. I have to thank people who say that, but also I absolutely do not care. I don’t care, because I don’t read magazines and I don’t watch TV, and I don’t go to cocktails. To have this feeling of a star you need a mirror, a reflection that is the society. With my wife and daughter, we live completely out of society. We live in the middle of nowhere where my neighbour is a fisherman. We produce oysters. And it’s impossible to be a star with a fisherman.

You’re famous for designing a chair in a few hours and a hotel in a few days. What’s the secret?

– To not be interested by design and architecture, just to be interested by “us”, after it is very easy to apply to any type needs.

Which countries/cities make you most excited in terms of design?

– I am not interested by cities, I am interested by people. And for me a city is not made of stone, a city is made of flesh. I am very happy when I meet very intelligent people, deeply friendly people, people with the idea of love and passion then it’s ok for me. But this can be anywhere in the world if there is the same type of people.

If you had a chance to re-design one building all around the world, what would it be?

– If I had to design a building all around the world, I would think it from inside to outside. I would only care of the happiness of the people who will live inside. I do not care of architectural gesture just for the sake of it.

What were your inspirations for Mama Shelter Istanbul?

– Classic geography does not exist anymore; the world has changed and each country is now the addition of different cultural tribes. I create, I work for a tribe that shares and loves the core values of Mama Shelter (sharing, poetry, tenderness, vision…) and it was logical to bring a Mama to the part of cultural tribe in Istanbul. Mama Shelter and Istanbul share the same values, as both are crossroads where people can mix culture, creativity, love, politics etc. There is no need to have a specific inspiration depending on the location as I do not aim for folk.

What’s the idea behind putting masks to the room in Mama Shelters?

– Creativity is the best result of human intelligence, and humour is the best symptom of intelligence. That’s why I use a lot surrealism, poetry and humour in my work as it speak to the “smart tribe”. Theatricality is also fundamental. Behind each Mama, there is a story, a scenario that can influence the experience of the guests. People who come to the Mama are free to follow this story or write their own, but in its diversity, Mama Shelter should be reflection all the different parts of ourselves. The masks come as a playful symbolic synthesis of all this, intelligence and humour, theatricality and freedom.

What’s the next best thing in design world for you?

– On the long run, the only outcome is dematerialisation. The designer of the future shall be your coach or dietitian, because of bionics. On a closer term, the next step in design is to solve the paradox of democratic industrial production – the guarantee of quality engineering, service etc – with one’s desire for uniqueness granted by craftsmanship. That is what TOG is aiming at achieving. TOG, an innovative new furniture brand launched last year during the Milan Design Week, is facing this challenge. TOG’s high ambition is to bring together dream and reality, volume and uniqueness, theory and practice through high quality designed furniture that can be customised by everybody. Because we believe that anybody can be creative, its goal is to create a virtuous collaborative system where designers, clients, artisans, artists and manufacturers share the same values and goals. TOG is the only company, which shows clearly that the only acceptable next trend is the freedom of choice and the freedom to be different.

What’s the worst job you have done so far?

– I never had bad or worse job. My only luxury is freedom; I make what I want with who I want when I want even without, since ever, business diner.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

– To buy copies of my furniture…



Philippe Starck’s picks:

Best hotel design: Sorry to say that the best hotels in the world is La Coorniche in Pyla, not because my design but because it stands on the biggest dune of Europe in front of the sea and the sunset which I have not designed and it is wonderful; except this one, my best hotel is my bed when sometimes my wife brings me my breakfast in bed.

Best hotel-room design: Any hotel with direct sun, nice view and no trendy gimmick.

Best restaurant design: The few restaurants where there is a table in the kitchen. Best bar design: When the barman knows perfectly classic cocktails and not a provoked hypoglycemic with coloured sugar and parasols on the top.



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