The Man In Pink Who Made Design Popular

IDW itinerary was full of very talented speakers. And I was to write about one of them in detail. Who could he be? Laurant Ney, Ron Nabarro, Tom Jhaarda or Massilliano Fuksas…

Most of the speakers ended up discussing the same point: Who is a designer? What were the expectations from a designer in the past and what are they today? Has the definition of design changed? And I began thinking about the definition of design again.

Let’s come to the point, to our headline of today: Karim Rashid. The one who wears the pink gets the headlines and his speech was really impressive too!

In Istanbul, Karim Rashid talked about his own design manifest, the digital era and democratic design. What is Karimanifesto? Before all he believes that design is a social and political attitude. The objects we use in our everyday life (for example mobile phones) shape and direct our lives. Consequently, he desires to design objects that are simpler, more fun, in his words“conscious and attuned with this world in this moment”. Karim Rashid wants to change the way we experience the world and life:“If human nature is to live in the past– to change the world is to change human nature.” He believes as a designer, he designs the future and contributes to how it is being shaped.

Karim Rashid defends that design is not art.“If you want to produce art, then produce art. But art is a very very small culture. Design is democratic art. Design is a harder place to be, more intellectual, more complex to be involved in.” Rashid said in his speech that there are more than 600 furniture fairs in the world and that“Furniture is not design. Furniture is exhausted”. He claimed that design was a social agenda and added that design can be poetic or radical as long as it performs its mission. He also mentioned that if we want the world to be a better place, then we have to focus on more things.

Then Rashid talked about the digital era and the kind of future he imagines. He wants a world in which everything is miniaturized and functions as if they are a part of our body. Here, he excitedly described how the mobile phones will evolve in time.

The second part of his speech was on individual designers The process of making Individual Designers. In this part, he told us about the democratic revolution and democratic design.

He began to speak in a very philosophical and nice manner. He said“Every one of us is full of intellectual creative energy” and then asked“How beautiful do the children draw, right? Then what happens to that creative energy in time?”

And the answer was:

“We go into the struggle of survival in life. We care more of what others think. If so, then how can you think all by yourself? Everybody has a creative power within himself. It doesn’t matter what he does, whether you are lawyer or a doctor but if there is an artist lying in you, then this will show itself in your work.”

At this point, he linked the issue to the definition of the democratic design and added the concept of personalization has become more and more important.

“People want to add something from themselves into their work. Thanks to the improving technology, now everybody is creative. They may not be musicians or photographers but everybody can make music and/or take photos. Such activities like hobbies remind us of our creative potential. This is a democratic revolution. A multi-cultural area for product design is being formed. This does not devalue the professionals but helps us differentiate the good from the bad. In a world full of options, the concept of democratic design had to be born. We have to create smarter, better designed, higher quality and easier to reach objects. Because of that, the role of the designer is elevated not the opposite.”

Yes, we definitely love democratic design. Because as the quality got higher, the prices went lower. Now you don’t need a specific taste or income to enjoy a piece of designer furniture. Almost everyone can financially reach a high quality product. How happy we were when Ikea came to town!!!

As you can see Karim Rashid not only designs democratic objects but he also likes to use various materials and technology.

Ok, but I am a bit confused here. This is the armchair Hot Dog designed for Domodinamica. To me, it does not look like the most comfortable, ergonomic chair in the world. It cannot be classified as a democratic design. (Well, there is no rule that says designers will produce democratic designs.) Is it art? No, it was mass produced. Are there not more than 600 furniture fairs in the world? Is furniture not exhausted? If design creates more problems than solve them do we really need yet another design? Egos come into the picture here a bit… He talks about the scented shoes he designed for Melissa. They are quite simple, polymer shoes designed and sold one million pieces in a flash.“Because design answers to our need of experience that is triggered by the stimulation of our five senses. But not by form or color only, we attracted the customers by awaking their senses of smell and touch.” Don’t you think the concept of design is terribly abused here? Has design become a tool to pump up the consumption culture? Don’t get me wrong, I think Karim Rashid has a God-given gift, he is creative and has a very colorful personality. Besides, I admire most of his work. But this is such a vicious circle that even the designers cannot make any sense out of it. First you say“Wow, amazing designs, how great was his speech!”, then you see him conflicting his own words.

As for Karim Rashid locations…

I can understand that he wants us to experience different things but I am not sure if I want to swim in this pool or not…

World Lounge at Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport.

Everything looks beautiful if you look at them one by one but all together, is it not too much?
Shiny ceiling, deometric designs on the carpets and the walls… It seems to me that Karim Rashid designs a restaurant, a sex shop, a coiffeur and homes, all in the very same way
A restaurant designed by Karim Rashid.

I cannot imagine myself eating here across the walls that constantly change color. This scene is definitely amazing as a composition but how would it feel to go in, eat and/or drink something here? I find Karim Rashid’s places a little too artificial somehow… I think people take shape according to the places. And do you think people who come here can act naturally? Affected places and affected people…
As a result, his inspirations are people and technology. He imagines a completely different world; bright colors, inspiring objects, places and experiences.

Rashid says,“Now design is not about solving problems, but about a rigorous beautification of our built environments. Design is about the betterment of our lives poetically, aesthetically, experientially, sensorial and emotionally. My real desire is to see people live in the modus of our time, to participate in the contemporary world, and to release themselves from nostalgia, antiquated traditions, old rituals, kitsch and the meaningless. If human nature is to live in the past– to change the world is to change human nature”. I don’t believe these places will change human nature for good or overlap with it.

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