Posted on March 17 2019
Philippe Starck, Tom Dixon, Karim Rachid... Do any of these names sound familiar to you? The first is French, the second is English and the third is an Egyptian born Canadian. What do these men have in common? They are all visionary designers and I'm sure you're aware of their brilliance, even if you don't think you are!
Many of their products have featured in thousands of magazines, copied around the world and beloved by many. Philippe Starck is perhaps the most prolific and well known of the three. Since the 1980's Starck has been a very successful interior, product, industrial and architectural designer and he is best known for his product and furniture pieces. In 1990, Starck designed this citrus juicer.
It is manufactured by the Italian kitchenware company Alessi. This iconic and sculptural piece is displayed in New York's Museum of Modern Art and I still see this item everywhere. So many of my friends have this in their kitchens. Starck took the lowly juicer and elevated it to become a thing of beauty meant to be displayed, not put away in a cupboard.
We have two of these chairs in our home. Ours are sadly not the original, but less expensive copies and I had to have them. I'm still very intimidated to sit on them, but their Wonder Woman quality is so eye-catching. I remember the first time I saw Starck's Ghost chairs, I wanted them right away. Using a modern material such as Lucite to recreated classic French chair styles is genius and that beautiful tension between old and new makes these chairs timeless new classics. Husband didn't like how seethrough they are so ours have faux fur on the seats. With arms or without, clear or faintly coloured, these chairs don't need to be perfectly comfortable. They are useable sculptural pieces which can work in any space.
Starck re-imagined the Victorian claw foot bathtub by ditching its legs and streamlining the design to become a thing of beauty in any bathroom or even bedroom, for some! Starck makes it stark and clean while maintaining its functionality. This stunning tub has since been emulated by so many stores around the world.
Tom Dixon's products are a newer passion for me. I realised I loved his work without knowing who he is. When I was researching for new lighting for our recent renovation, I kept coming across the same designs and loving them. Primarily a lighting and furniture designer, Dixon burst onto the scene in the early 2000's. His designs are still relatively new in North America. But Britons and Europeans have loved his designs for many years. I have the one on the right, in white. And again, it's a less expensive reproduction.
This trio is well known now and has graced many pages of design magazines. I like that we are not restricted by the fact that they are a trio. You can use one in multiples or one on its own. They also come in white with white metal on the inside to cast a different glow than the gold you see here. These pendants are updated mid-century designs in feel. Lighting has come such a long way since LED bulbs came into play. They emit almost no heat yet burn so bright. They are extremely energy efficient and they come in so many sizes and they can be shaped to suit just about any design. No longer do we need to fear about fixture materials not being able to handle the heat nor the strength of an incandescent light. Designers can be as edgy as they like with little to no limitations.
The Etch pendant is just gorgeous. It's sort of geodelike organic shapes are modern jewellery to any space. This multi-faceted brass fixture can be hung in multiples or on their own. The soft colours are easy on the eye and nicely diffuses the light emitted from their bulbs.
The Void light is so cool and sleek yet feminine in their smooth, curved shapes. I really love the soft variety of colours. This pendant fixture is made up of: "Semi-precious metals pressed, spun and brazed into complex double walled shades, Void is the result of a challenge to create a luminous pendant" (tomdixon.net) The look is sort of futuristic yet retro at the same time and the directional light emits almost mysteriously from within. Again, it's like a piece of sculpture hanging from the ceiling.
Karim Rachid's name doesn't roll off of people's tongues, but I am sure that you're aware of his designs. Known for his bold, fluid shapes, Rachid has conquered designs for home, office and retails stores. Born in Egypt, raise and educated in Canada, he now resides in New York City, churning out many bold and varied designs both affordable and high end. As Philippe Starck's creations are featured by the Italian design house Alessi, Rachid enjoys a fruitful relationship with Canadian company Umbra. He has many affordable household items you have probably seen and own.
Garbino cans are inspired by this Danish mid century waste paper bin and I love the many cheery colours of the plastic incarnation. We have many of them scattered around the house for different uses - recycling, office waste, rolled wrapping paper storage.
The OH chairs by Umbra are inexpensive, colourful, fun and very comfortable. They've been around for close to 2 decades now and their fun design allows for many uses, in a formal and informal setting.
Years ago, Rachid re-imagined the lowly hand vacuum for Dirt Devil. Standing not in use, they look like colourful architectural soldiers. There is no need to hide these beauties in a broom closet, they are sculptural and practical.
Called the Ottawa chair, named after the capital of Canada, this stylish task or dining chair is a fun spin on Robin Day's polypropylene side chair. Its sensual minimalism speaks to the essence of this designer. Much like its inspiration, the Ottawa comes in many colours of fabrics and legs.
So there you have it, 3 incredibly talented designers working their magic to make our spaces more beautiful. They inspire me to never settle for mediocrity. Hopefully you'll feel the same way.