Philippe Starck

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Philippe Starck
Phillippe Starck 2011.jpg
Philippe Starck in 2016
Born (1949-01-18) January 18, 1949 (age 70)
Paris, France

Philippe Starck (born January 18, 1949)[1] is a French designer known since the start of his career in the 1980s for his interior, product, industrial and architectural design including furniture.[2][3]


Son of André Starck, aeronautical engineer and founder of the André Starck Aircraft, Philippe Starck began his schooling at the Notre-Dame de Sainte-Croix institution in Neuilly. Then he studied at Camondo School in Paris, under the leadership of Henry Malvaux [fr].

Since December 2007 he has been married to Jasmine Abdellatif with whom he has a baby girl in May 2011, he chose for his children original names: Ara, Oa, Lago, Kymolopea and Justice Starck.

His eldest daughter Ara, a painter and musician, collaborated on some of his father's projects, such as the decoration of the Parisian palace, Le Meurice hotel, from which she designed the ceiling canvas of the restaurant Le Dali or more recently Brach Hotel in Paris.

Philippe Starck started his style revolution by designing nightclubs in the late 70s; when he was chosen in 1983 by President Mitterrand to be one of the designers to re-imagine the private presidential apartments in the Elysées Palace, the young Starck stepped into the spotlight. He remains prominent.

By applying his work to all domains, products of our daily life (furniture, lemon squeezer, electric bikes, individual wind turbine), architecture (hotels, restaurants that aspire to be stimulating places) and naval and spatial engineering (mega yachts, habitation module for private spatial tourism), he pushed forward the limits and criteria of design, becoming one of the a visionary and renowned creators of the international contemporary scene.[4]

In September 2017, The Milan Furniture Fair handed out its award for the second year running at the Triennale Arts Theatre. Among the winners were Philippe Starck, who was the winner of the Best Designer Award.[5]

He dreams of solutions so vital that he was the first French man to be invited to the TED conferences (Technology, Entertainment & Design) alongside renowned participants including Bill Clinton and Richard Branson.


Philippe Starck declares in Casa Vogue, "my concept of democratic design is based on the following idea: to give quality pieces at accessible prices to the largest number of people. To lower the price while increasing the quality. It's my political consciousness."[6]

In 1969 Starck designed an inflatable structure, based on the idea of materiality, reflecting his early interest in living spaces.  Not long afterwards, Pierre Cardin, seduced by the iconoclastic design, offered him the job of artistic director at his publishing house.

In 1979, Philippe Starck founded his first industrial design company, Starck Product, which he later renamed Ubik after the famous Philip K. Dick novel. Here began work with the biggest design manufacturers in Italy - Driade, Alessi, Kartell - and others throughout Europe – Drimmer in Austria, Vitra in Switzerland and Disform in Spain, for examples.

In 1983, then-French President François Mitterrand, on the recommendation of his Minister of Culture, Jack Lang, chose Starck to refurbish the president's private apartments at the Élysée; the following year he designed the Café Costes.[7]

Over the years, Starck worked with some of the finest Italian furniture brands, including creating the iconic Generic chair for Kartell, the innovative Lady Hio table for Glass Italia and chic sofas and armchairs for the likes of Cassina and Driade.[8]

Democratic design[edit]

In August 2011, he told Challenges business magazine: "When I created my agency thirty-two years ago, I had an ethics charter adopted, forbidding me from certain sectors such as arms, alcohol, tobacco, oil and religion, it is extremely expensive, because these people have a lot of money and would give everything to take your integrity."[9]

Philippe Starck created Good Goods in 1998, a catalogue of "non-products for the non-consumers of the future moral market," sold by mail order (La Redoute), and his first organic food company OAO, he launched the concept of "democratic ecology" by offering personal wind turbines and by announcing solar boats or hydrogen vehicles. His latest ecological works are the Volteis electric car designed by Electric Car or the Pibal bike, commissioned by the city of Bordeaux, Zartan chairs Magis and Broom Emeco.

This stacking chair by French designer Philippe Starck is made of discarded material found in lumber factories and industrial plastic plants; the reclaimed polypropylene and discarded wood-fibre can eventually be recycled and turned into a new wood-plastic composite, extending the lifespan of the waste materials even further.[10]

Through his "democratic design" concept, Starck has campaigned for well-designed objects that are not just aimed for upper-tiered incomes, he has expressed this as a utopian ideal,[11] approached in practice by increasing production quantities to cut costs and by using mail-order, via Les 3 Suisses. In January 2013 he redesigned the Navigo travel pass.[12]

One of the ways Philippe Starck has economized costs for the public,[13] is his plastic-furniture line, producing pieces such as the Kartell Louis Ghost chair, over a million of which have been sold, he has also been involved in the development of Fluocaril toothbrushes to bathroom fittings for Duravit, Hansgrohe, Hoesch and Axor, from Alessi's Juicy Salif lemon squeezer to Zikmu speakers, Zik headphones by Parrot, Laguiole knives, the Marie Coquine lamp for Baccarat,[14] and Starckeyes glasses by Mikli.

According to this design principle, the less material used, the more efficient the product – or even, in Starck's opinion, the more "human" the product becomes. To achieve this aim, the brand looks to the natural world for inspiration, studying the ways in which humans and technology interact.

Alongside his work Philippe Starck partnered with Moustache Bikes for the M.A.S.S. (Mud, Asphalt, Sand and Snow). A portfolio of four e-bikes that use a Bosch electrical engine and battery pack.[15]

In parallel to this positioning, sometimes called political, he leads media companies such as the Gun Lamp (Flos, 2003), a giant architect lamp, the Superarchimoon (Flos, 2000), 214 cm high, the lights Haaa! And Hooo !!! Imagined with the artist Jenny Holzer (Flos / Baccarat, 2007) or monumental chandeliers from the Darkside collection, including the iconic Zenith (Baccarat, 2011).

After three years of development, in the fall of 2015, Philippe Starck unveils his first collection with the Brazilian brand Ipanema. Ipanema with Starck sandals, with minimal and organic design, are produced in eco-friendly plants in Brazil, from 30% recycled material.

Brazilian shoe brand Ipanema has partnered with designer Philippe Starck for "ipanema with starck" – a spring / summer collection that reimagines footwear design. Starck has re-envisioned a collection of modern elegand sandals which reflect a different mood or lifestyle choice embodied by the modern day woman to celebrate this collaboration with Ipanema.[16]

In collaboration with 340-year-old Brasserie d'olt, Starck created the IPA-inspired Starck Beer; the brew uses carefully selected raw material like hops and water from the Aubrac region, and is certified organic.Starck designed the bottle to be much like the beer inside - contemporary and minimalistic.[17]

In 2010, Philippe Starck is working on a new aspect of well-being: perfume, he began a collaboration with Nina Ricci to create the new bottle of L'Air du temps.

In 2016, Philippe Starck presents Starck Paris, a first collection of perfumes made in collaboration with great master perfumers: Annick Ménardo, Daphné Bugey and Dominique Ropion.

As one of the world's pre-eminent designers, it's hard to imagine any gaps in Philippe Starck’s enduring career. In truth, Starck, who spent most of his childhood in a perfumerie that his mother operated, has long been fascinated with the idea of scent, which makes his latest undertaking – a trio of fragrances.

Of course, Starck has worked in the olfactory world before, having most memorably redesigned the iconic bottle of Nina Ricci's L'Air du temps as a limited edition in 2013; this new collection however, which has been simply labeled Starck Paris, owes its entire creative direction to Starck. Produced by the Spanish company Perfumes Y Diseño, the project is a sincere and conscious effort from the designer to articulate what he thinks perfume should be, covering everything from the bottle and packaging design to the concepts that drive the fragrances themselves.

Design-wise, the bottles are unequivocally Starck; each minimal flaçon is imprinted with an amorphous form in a frosted, clear and textured finish, visually articulating the collection's union of science and poetry. Simply capped with a shiny black top, the bottles redirect attention to their contents, making each scent the collection’s main focus.[18]

Two new fragrances joined Peau de Soie, Peau de Pierre and Peau d’Ailleurs in the Starck Paris Peauperfume collection : Peau de Nuit Infinie and Peau de Lumière Magique fragrances resonate as unexpected reflections of Philippe Starck’s creative universe.

Philippe Starck always implements ethical and ecological aspects into all of his creations but he also loves to inject fun into his designs and the combination of these three elements are always poetic, rebellious and definitely beautiful. With his P.A.T.H. project that he and Riko collaborated on, we see a second generation of energy efficient prefabricated homes with a large emphasize on Eco-technological systems. Riko is a high tech company with expertise in state of the art insulation and energy producing technology as well as being one of the leading European manufacturers of wooden sustainable prefab buildings so it was a natural fit that these two earth friendly designers would come together to create Prefabricated Accessible Technological Homes – or P.A.T.H.[19]

Philippe Starck has designed his first smartphone: the Mi Mix for Chinese electronics company Xiaomi; the Mi Mix is distinguished by its ceramic body and the near-edgeless display that covers 91 per cent of the phone's front surface area. This means that a user sees almost no bezel surrounding their screen, a goal that was central to Starck's project with Xiaomi. Starck made the Mi Mix handset in polished black ceramic, which he describes as both the oldest and most contemporary of materials.[20]

He also created the Paris 2024 Olympic medals designed to be shared. Philippe Starck split the medal into four allowing winning Olympic athletes to share their success with their families.[21]

French rugby legend Sébastien Chabal and French designer Philippe Starck have joined forces to create a range of urban sports equipment which promotes free and accessible sport to everyone; the initiative is part of the Heritage Plan 2024 – one of the legacy projects linked to the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. Called "Station Sport Lib", the equipment aims to "make people embrace movement and encourage them to do sports freely by providing innovative and rewarding sports equipment", accompanied by on-site coaching sessions; the first Station Sport Lib' installation took place in the city of Clichy this month and will be rolled out across the country later this year.[22]

Philippe Starck has teamed up with French tableware brand Degrenne to redesign its range of kitchen tools and cutlery. […] Named L'Econome by Starck, the revamped peeler features an ergonomic, streamlined handle, which Starck says was inspired by "the utensil's essence". […] Inspired by his redesign of the peeler, Starck also introduced a full range of cutting utensils and cutlery that feature the same streamlined handles.

Called The Tools of the Kitchen, the collection features another vegetable peeler, four knives including a 10-centimetre paring knife, a "noble bird's beak" knife, a 20-centimetre kitchen knife and a bread knife. […] All of Starck's products for Degrenne are packaged in recyclable brown paper packaging that the brand says is "simple, familiar and elegant, echoing the history and nature of its content.[23]

As a new challenge, Philippe Starck has created the interiors for the habitation module of the "world's first" commercial space station, which is due to open in 2020. Designed for the privately-owned space exploration company, Axiom Space Starck's habitation module will house paying individuals on expeditions to the space station.

Axiom commissioned Starck to create the interiors of the crew quarters, dining area and galley habitation module for the Axiom Station, which is connected to the International Space Station (ISS).[24]


Asahi Beer Hall (rightmost, with gold flame), next to the Asahi headquarters and the Tokyo Skytree

Since 1989, Philippe Starck has designed many buildings in Japan; the first, in Tokyo, Nani Nani is an impressive anthropomorphic building, covered with a living material that evolves with time. A strong conviction then appears: creation must invest an environment, certainly, but without upsetting it.

A year later, he founded Asahi Beer Hall in Tokyo, then Le Baron Vert in 1992, a group of offices in Osaka. In France, he signs the extension of the National School of Decorative Arts (ENSAD) in Paris (1998).

In 1994, he created a wooden house kit for 3 Swisses. Sold 4,900 FFR in the form of a box containing plans, videotape, sketches and instructions, it is his only failure.

Since the late 1980s, Philippe Starck has invested in the design of hotels in different countries of the world, he created in 1988 the Royalton then the Hudson in New York, the Delano in Miami in 1995, the Mondrian in Los Angeles, in London the Saint Martin's Lane in 1999 and the Sanderson in 2000. In 2005, Philippe Starck receives the prize for the best Hotel of the year for the hotel Faena de Buenos Aires opened the previous year and the Condé Nast Traveler distinguishes it for its atmosphere and its design; also in South America, Philippe Starck designed the Fasano hotel in Rio de Janeiro in 2007 using materials such as wood, glass and marble. Then Philippe Starck attacks luxury hotels.

Franka Holtmann, General Manager of Le Meurice, has chosen Philippe Starck to restore Le Meurice's heritage to its rightful prominence, and in doing so exalt its riches and beauty, his response is an "invisible transformation» with considerations of colour and light, a new interpretation of furniture, a play on transparency and movement, while Ara Starck has painted a monumental canvas."[25]

In 2008, Le Royal Monceau was given a complete two-year makeover by French designer Philippe Starck – his third hotel in Paris after Hôtel Le Meurice and Mama Shelter – who imagined colorful contemporary interiors encompassing a glamorous, artistic sensibility, thereby recreating the vibrancy of Les Années Folles from when the hotel first launched in 1928, and was frequented by the greatest artists, intellectuals and adventurers of the time.[26]

In North America in the 2000s, Philippe Starck developed with the entrepreneur Sam Nazarian a new chain of luxury hotels, the SLS, with always this idea to break the codes of the sector. Thus, the SLS Los Angeles Bazaar lobby becomes a center of life where tapas restaurants and Norwegian health bar meet, gourmet pastries and even the Moss concept store.

Starck has at the same time engaged since 1990 in the democratization of so-called "design and quality" hotels. First with the Paramount in New York which offers rooms at $100 and becomes a classic of its kind. In 2008, in association with Serge Trigano, he applied this idea to Paris by designing the Mama Shelter; the openings follow one another in 2012 and 2013. The following year, when Accor joined Mama Shelter, he sold his shares; Thierry Gaugain, his former right-hand man, succeeds him.

The Alhondiga in Bilbao opened in 2010, is a place of life, culture and sports of 43 000 m2.

Philippe Starck designed the Alhondiga Bilbao Culture and Leisure Centre in Bilbao, Basque County Spain. Ricardo Bastida designed the original building in 1909 to store wine and after years of neglect it was transformed into a venue for sports and events.

Starck concentrated on three buildings within the old structure. Curly, plump columns suspend floors above the 6,000m2 indoor plaza; the media library and sports education complex are housed inside the brick, minimalist block above. Skylights look up to the swimming pool, which has a transparent roof above it, it is a vertical stack of interesting spaces the effect each other in fascinating ways. HVAC and lighting systems are bare and brutal for all to see.

Italian set designer Lorenzo Baraldi contributed to the technical solution for this arrangement of space, and added a theatrical flare; each pillar is different and inspired by a historical era. Starting with 800 designs, he produced an experience of travel through human history. Cinema and museum spaces in the basement give temporary installations of current artists.[27]

La Co(o)rniche Hotel, an extraordinary location has been renovated in 2011. Key landmark in the Pilat-Plage district in Pyla-Sur-Mer near Bordeaux, the vantage point over the Arcachon basin, backing onto the highest dune in Europe, it is suspended between sea and sky, nestling between sand and pines. [28]

This ravishing boutique getaway is the height of seaside sophistication. Philippe Starck's bold white interior evokes local oyster farming, and Europe's highest sand dune looms large as next-door neighbour. Outstanding seafood dining and sea-and-sand views at every turn are the icing on the cake.[29]

And then in July 2015, the Café Ha(a)ïtza  opened its doors in Pyla-sur-Mer, but this was less a step and more a prologue to the 2016 opening of the eponymous hotel with its open spaces, central bars and tables d’hôtes. This emblematic venue in the Baie d’Arcachon, a landscape so dear to Philippe Starck, will rediscover its life and panache of former times in summer 2016.

S Hotel is an upscale, 103-room sanctuary in Songshan district in the heart of Taipei and a rare blend of contemporary style, warm sophistication and joyful exuberance. S Restaurant & Bar features global cuisine and unique creations by a Michelin star-trained French chef, but it is the atmosphere of love and happiness that will inspire you to return time and again. [30]

In march 2018, Philippe Starck unveils plans for a unique phantasmagoric 14-story hotel in the newly developed heart of the provincial city of Metz the Maison Heler will comprise a monolithic building topped by an 18th century traditional Alsatian home, imagined by Starck as a surrealist construction like a habitable, poetic work of art.[31]

Group Evok Hotels Collection opened Hôtel Brach Paris. Designed by Philippe Starck, the property is located at the heart of the 16th arrondissement; the property was inspired by the modern architecture of the 1930s, playing on contrasts between natural, raw materials like metal, wood, concrete and leather.[32]


Mama Shelter, Marseille, France, 2012

Philippe Starck has several restaurants to his credit: Bon (2000), Mori Venice Bar (2006) and Le Paradis du Fruit (2009) in France, and the notable launch of Katsuya in Los Angeles in 2006, the first in a series of Japanese restaurants; the A'trego opened in Cap d'Ail in 2011. He designed the interior and exterior of Ma Cocotte, a restaurant that launched in September 2012 at the Saint-Ouen flea market near Paris. In 2013, he designed Miss Ko, an Asian-centric concept restaurant in Paris.

In September 2014 the Caffè Stern run by the Alajmo brothers, masters of La Serenissima cooking, opened its doors in the historical Paris arcade, the Passage des Panoramas.

Philippe Starck will continue to work with the Alajmo brothers for the restaurant Amo (2016) in Venice and the renovation of the historic Venetian restaurant Quadri (2018).

Philippe Starck as worked alongside Venetian artisans to restore this 18th-century restaurant, refreshing its upholstered walls, chandeliers and decadent furnishings. Quadri is situated on the northern end of Venice's Piazza San Marco, set behind the arched openings of the square's arcade; the cafe, which has been open since 1775, is now owned by the Alajmo family. After noticing the restaurant had fallen into a state of disrepair, brothers Massimiliano and Raffaele Alajmo approached French designer Philippe Starck to "bring back the original splendour of the space in a contemporary context.[33]

He has worked with local artisans – including glassblowers, carpenters, fabric-makers and art restorers – to recover the building's original architectural details, while adding "a romantic and slightly surrealistic atmosphere."[34]

Brach hotel in the 16th arrondissement offers a modern take on luxury combined with a strong design slant. Under the auspices of Philippe Starck, a former 1970s sorting house has been transformed into a multi-level maze of Instagram-friendly spaces, including a relaxed restaurant and huge subterranean gym.

The Evok Hotels group enlisted Parisian star designer Philippe Starck to reimagine this former 1970s postal sorting office as an inventive, multi-level space offering "casual luxury" The look is polished and sumptuous, with high-quality materials – think marble, polished metal and leather – and the kind of individual touches popular on Paris's more low-key boutique hotel scene. Furnishings mix Deco and mid-century elements with contemporary artwork (including a ceiling canvas by Starck's daughter, Ara, on the first floor and one of her murals in the ground-floor restaurant) and imported pieces from across the world; each public space has its own custom scent.[35]


Starck, who loves ships and the sea, designed the new infrastructure for the Port Adriano harbour on the south-west bay of Palma de Mallorca, and was also artistic director for the interior, it opened in April 2012. He also designed Steve Jobs's yacht, Venus, which launched in October 2012.[36]

Launched in 1999 by Tencara, Virtuelle is one of the earliest Starck yachts and saw the designer work in close partnership with naval architect Andrea Vallicelli; this 24 metre all-GRP sailing yacht is notable for her extensive use of curved teak decking, while below decks, she can accommodate up to six guests in three cabins.

Now a world-famous superyacht, Motor Yacht A was commissioned by Russian owner Andrey Melnichencko and launched in 2008 by German yard Blohm + Voss. Starck spent four years working on the project, creating the interior and exterior design, as well as the design for the custom tenders, while former collaborator Martin Francis provided the naval architecture; this 119 metre was one of the earliest examples of the reverse prow, and you can read all about her harmonious interiors in the upcoming design issue of Boat International.[37]

Built in 2011, the iconic 78-metre Venus is one of feadship’s most recognisable yachts ever produced and was designed by the hand of the equally well-known artist, Philippe Starck.[38]

Designed by Philippe Starck, M/Y A and S/Y A turn heads wherever they go and divide opinions with their distinctive looks and futuristic designs. Both very different, albeit cut from the same cloth, M/Y A and Sailing Yacht A are bold statement yachts born from their owner’s desire to push the boundary of yacht design and create something unique.

M/Y A features submarine-inspired styling and a smooth upside down hull form that leaves almost no wake even when powering at 25 knots. A favourite feature of Starck's on board M/Y A is the cavern-like tender garage, that feels akin to a ballroom when you step into its huge spaces. With openings on three sides, this space ensures true on water living.

On her launch, S/Y A demonstrated similar creative styling to her motor yacht sister; this radical yacht is the biggest sail-assisted motor yacht in the world and her sheer scale is colossal with masts towering over 100 metres high. A shard like sloping design, all exterior surfaces are completely flush. Seen under sail for the first time in 2017 she is a yacht like no other.[39]

Other projects[edit]

In November 2012, Starck published his first book of interviews, Impression d'Ailleurs, with Gilles Vanderpooten [fr]. In it, he expresses his view of the challenges facing the world to come – ecology, solidarity, youth, science – and, as a humanist, suggests ways we can make a difference.

His work is seen in the collections of European and American museums, including the Musée National d'Art Moderne (to which he has donated several pieces, in particular prototypes) the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, the MOMA and the Brooklyn Museum in New York City, the Vitra Design Museum in Basel and the Design Museum in London. More than 660 of his designs were inventoried in French public collections in 2011.[40]

The Centre Pompidou of Málaga hosted from 10 May to 17 September 2017 an exhibition on the French creator Philippe Starck (Paris, 1949), which gave an overview of both the various spheres and the different techniques in which he undertakes his work; the project gathered together a large quantity of drawings, sketches and proposals that sought to reveal the essence of Starck's creative process.

The exhibit fully immersed visitors in the prolific work of this designer, from his thinking on the world of design, its usefulness and its challenges to the concrete construction of prototypes and objects, such as the set of "Instructions for building a house", the Maison Starck.

In addition to the drawings and projects, the exhibition was complemented with an important number of objects created by Starck in the fields of industrial design and interior decoration, such as the famous squeezer designed in 1988, the Alo telephone (1994), the La Marie chair (1996), the Louis Ghost armchair (2000), the D'E-light lamp (2009) or the Ipanema with Starck sandals (2013).[41]


Volteis electric car, 2012

Political messaging[edit]

Sometimes pointed political messages[42] can be found in projects, such as the subversive Gun Lamp (Flos, 2005), the Superarchimoon floor lamp (Flos, 2000), in fact a giant architect's lamp standing 217 centimetres high, the Haaa!!! and Hooo!!! lamps he imagined with the American artist Jenny Holzer (Flos/Baccarat, 2009) and the chandeliers in the Darkside collection, featuring the Zenith chandelier (Baccarat, 2005).

"The first thing for us to remember is that creativity has a duty of political action," he says, tapping a finger on the table.[43]

With environment and ecological concerns, he created the Good Goods catalogue with La Redoute, he also set up AOA, an organic food company. His latest eco-friendly designs are the V+ Volteis electric car, the Pibal bike for the city of Bordeaux, Zartan chairs for Magis and Broom by Emeco.


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  42. ^ I'm convinced that for many, the political nature of his work is not only hard to detect but of little interest [...] yet for most of us, the most sensational thing about Starck's architecture and design is the combination of fun and the unexpected, Zoom sur Philippe Starck, Courrier International, 2 September 1995
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External links[edit]