|Philippe Starck. Photo by www.treehugger.com|
Can the French bad boy of the design world that is Philippe Starck really save us from ourselves?
That's the question I found myself pondering over as I watched British TV series ‘Design for Life’ on YouTube. In his search for some fresh talent to join his Parisian agency, Starck, who ranks as one of the world's best-known designers, has chosen to look to England for inspiration.
Renowned for his lavish yacht and hotel interior designs, his 'green' rhetoric comes as quite a surprise, I must say. ‘Democratic, ethical, sustainable, ecological’ - all this coming from someone who has, for decades, been at the centre of the oh-so-fickle world that is product design. His vision, his approach, in fact his very raison d'être are all a far cry from the Philippe Starck we all thought we knew…
‘You will try to help your tribe, your society, your civilization to have a better life’, he declares (in an awfully cute French accent) as he instructs his British protégés to invent a product, which is both accessible and eco-friendly, and at the same time, constitutes a positive contribution to society.
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His philosophy of sustainable design sparks some quite extraordinary product proposals. From floating cities, and smart meters, to clothes made out of dust, and recyclable tampons - clearly some are more appealing than others.
Listening to Starck wax lyrical about escaping the materialist world we live in, one could easily have mistaken him for a politician or ever a philosopher. Quite amazingly, in a programme devoted to design, neither trends nor profit margins are mentioned. Of course aesthetics still play a big role, but always as second fiddle to purpose and sustainability.
I have to admit I did have my doubts. But a bit of research reveals that Starck is more than willing to put his money where his mouth is. He has come up with a novel concept of his own, one he calls ‘Democratic Ecology’. His personal wind-turbine can generate between 20 and 60% of the energy needed to power a home. It’s made of transparent polycarbonate, whose outstanding impact resistance means it will stand the test of time and rough winds. It comes in at €400 or $633, which, when compared with the cost of what’s currently on the market, is a relatively affordable domestic turbine.
The question is: Could you see yourself using any of these products?