Philippe Starck: “Design is Dead”

It seems Philippe Starck has made enough toothbrushes, toasters, watches, mopeds, chairs, trendy hotels, mediocre sushi restaurants and piles of money. So what is this shamelessly self promoting product designer doing now to get attention? Biting the hand that feeds him of course. In a recent interview with Germany’s Die Zeit Magazine, Mr. Starck proclaims the “death of design.” No longer satisfied with his life’s work and feeling that everything he ever designed was ” unnecessary”, the close to retiring designer wants to rain on everyone else’s design parade and create nothing but controversy. While I do agree with him that all he “created is absolutely useless”, I do have to argue his point that “design is dead.” There are countless designers (amateur and professional) delivering and working on products that enhance life, bring joy and make this world a little easier to deal with for people in all walks of life. Yes, there are many more designers working on mostly frivolous items we feature daily on Yanko Design, but those designs seem to just inspire us and push design further and into the mainstream consciousness of the world. Good design is always better than bad design, no matter the usefulness of any object. In his defense, if I spent an entire lifetime making objects of frivolity, I might be inclined to be introspective as well. Donate your money to worthy charities, help the helpless or lecture on the importance of environmentally sustainable, life enhancing objects, just don’t claim design to be dead and expect to exonerate yourself from the life you designed for yourself. Design is no where near dead, it just may be dead in Mr. Starck.

UPDATE: Some of the quotes used in the German Weekly.

“I was a producer of materiality and I am ashamed of this fact,”

“Everything I designed was unnecessary.”

“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.”

“In future there will be no more designers. The designers of the future will be the personal coach, the gym trainer, the diet consultant,”

Starck said the only objects that he still felt attached to were “a pillow perhaps and a good mattress.” But the thing one needs most, he added, was the “ability to love”.

Designer: Philippe Starck [ Via: Gawker ]


  • dude says:

    I think you maybe misunderstand Starck is what the problem is. I personally find his general style ugly and thus don’t think we’re missing much, but it would help to watch his talk at the TED conference to get some idea of how he thinks and maybe understand that it’s no so severe after all. I happen to think that fashion is in a sadly 70s retro we don’t know how to do anything interesting (non crappy) phase. I suppose design might be in a lull too. Though yes, there is some good stuff going on in some quarters for sure. He also may have been trying to emphasize that we should look to molding ourselves. I think he’s just in the place in life. I am 34 and already got to that place, but then I’ve never had any particular success in life to distract me.

  • JLedo says:

    Design has nothing to do with Mr. Stark. What Mr. Stark does, is called “de luxe” product conception… and money.

    Design is something else, far beyhond what he knows, and is able to do.

    Shut up, Mr. Stark.

  • Wallup New Mexico says:

    At most a Flash in the Pan !
    That is if you are stupid !

  • Wallup New Mexico says:

    At most a Flash in the Pan !
    That is if you are stupid !

  • yeah well nobody forced him to do what he did.

    if you can’t generate good ideas anymore mr.starck that’s where you’re dead, weather it be luxury design or design for the 90% or the 10%, it is still fully alive and ppl are running their lives with it. design never dies, design changes form and evolves , maybe our material world will come to a halt but design transfers itself into digital, yes, i believes multimedia is actually the future of industrial design, plus, there are zillions of spots where design has not touched yet, one of them being ROBOTICS.

    it’s good to hear you’re getting retired mr.starck because there are plenty young talented people out there ready to take your place as soon as you’re out of your kingdom chair.

    saying these words won’t grab you any attention, you only loose respect among designers.

  • M I says:

    “It’s also somewhat elitist, most of the worlds people can barely afford mass production, never mind Craftwork, so this idea is really just the latest fashion focused on the top 2%.”

    It’s rather quite the opposite. Most of the “worlds people” only have access to craftwork. In France (Starck’s country), the “Board of Craftmanship” (Chambre de Métiers et de l’Artisanat) is kind of France’s first corporation. In developing or underdeveloped countries, as you say, people don’t have access to mass market, but they still have furniture and kitchenware! Those are craftwork. Wood or ceramic figurine, ponchos, kitchenware made of bamboo… I could go on for ever.

    If the ongoing interest of stuff like Etsy, Ponoko or the MakerBot keep rising as they currently do, the designing process and the way people see creation could shift to a new paradigm.

  • Philippe is an artist, a man who can give a different look at anything simply because he sees different and think different, he may as most accomplish person have come at the full circle and perhaps sees his own accomplishment as only a steps into what he will become. Way to many envious with pale talent to even one day hope to be Mr Stark.

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