Philippe Starck
Design in time of crisis
Floornature, September 20, 2010
Philippe Starck_Juicy Salif
Philippe Starck_Juicy Salif
The crisis is a terrible thing; the crisis is the right time to go a little higher, to stop the television, to not read magazine for five minutes, and to say, "Ok, perhaps we have the incredible opportunity to reinvent this society." That is two big things for me. Now, for the crisis... I am not a banker, thankfully. I am very happy not to be a banker. That's why design does not have real power. What I invented thirty years ago, the democratic design, was in advance an answer to the crisis because in thirty years I have tried, and I think I have finally succeeded, to raise the quality of the product, to decrease the price, and to make all these products very easy to find and easy to use.

Today, if you compare what was a chair twenty years ago, the quality of a chair was lower and the price was so much higher. Now if you compare something like that, which is unbreakable, which is comfortable, stackable and at the right price - which could perhaps be a bit lower. But we shall see that now, theoretically, it is possible but it will be not made for a terrible thing which will arrive, if you want we can speak about that; it is a next crisis. The next crisis for me ... (ok this one I tell you; I am not a banker); the next is more important for me, like [as] a human being, like [as] a designer and like [as] somebody who has tried so much to help people to have a better life. The next crisis will be in thirty years, when it will be the end of oil. When we shall have no more oil, we shall have no more gas for our cars. Perfect! I hate cars. That means I don't care that we shall have no more gas to put in your cars. We shall have electricity, hydrogen, cold fusion and things like that. But no more oil means no more plastic and today nobody is speaking about what will be the post-plastic society. Because we have all forgotten that 80% 90% of our comfort, our necessities, comes from plastic. If billions of people today have minimal comfort it is because plastic exists.

Philippe Starck/Bedside gun
Philippe Starck/Bedside gun
G.T.: And what about recycling?

Philippe Starck: Some stupid people will say, "Oh, no problem." Recycling? No, recycling is absolutely not the answer. Recycling is a fake good idea, a fake concept invented I think by very cynical marketing people twenty years ago to finally give an opportunity to continue to produce and to give the opportunity to people to continue to consume and overconsume. Because, I say, "You can continue to overconsume, no problem: we shall recycle all your shit." It is not true. Recycling, first, is very costly in energy and recycling produces shit. You cannot make a chair like that today in recycled plastic. That means it is a fake idea. Some other people, more fashionable, will say that we shall use bio-plastic. Bio-plastic means that we shall kill billions of hectares of trees, of fields where people make some things they can eat, just to put, to make corn, or I don't know what, to make gas to [for] our big SUV 4X4 cars. It's an obscenity. We have to refuse bio-gas. We have to refuse like designers bio-plastic. All bio-materials are a crime against humanity.

Philippe Starck_speakers Zikmu.
Philippe Starck_speakers Zikmu.
G.T.: One question about the new materials' shape and concepts.

Philippe Starck: The duty of a producer of ideas like me is to always have a very far vision first on our mutation - from the amoeba [that] we were, to the super-monkey we are, to the I don't-know-what we shall be in four billion years when the sun will implode. We have a duty to understand that. If we don't understand the mutation we can't understand this big picture and we cannot create the right product to help the quality and the speed of mutation. That's why we have also to be coherent with the mutation. We have to understand very long time before [much sooner] what are the next technologies. I follow, because sadly I am not a scientist. I am obliged to observe and follow all the technologies. There are some I have been observing for forty years; some of these things which started to arrive, that will arrive now on the market. I shall not speak about all these next miracles but just to give you an image of the finality of materiality, there is (there is even no name), imagine you have something completely soft, I don't know what, a sort of mold in your hand like that, you put it on the table and you think, you do nothing else but think: 'I need a plate to eat,' and you see a bup...bup..., and that makes a plate. You use it like plate and then "finished!", bup...bup..that comes back something like that.

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