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An iconic designer of our time, the visionary Karim Rashid has been revolutionizing the design industry with his unique (almost futuristic) vision and ideas. With more than 4000 designs in production, over 300 awards to his name, Karim’s ability to transcend typology continues to make him a force among designers of his generation.
In a conversation with a Portuguese luxury furniture brand Delightfull, the New York based designer reveals his inspirations and ethos behind his winning designs.
The creative journey
TELL US ABOUT THE BEGINNING OF YOUR JOURNEY IN THE DESIGN WORLD? HOW DID THE LOVE FOR PRODUCT AND INTERIORS EMERGE?
Karim Rashid: I realized my life’s mission at the age of 5 in London. I went sketching with my father drawing churches on Sundays. He taught me to see – he taught me perspective at that age – he taught me that I could design anything and touch all aspects of our physical landscape. I remember drawing a cathedral facade and deciding I did not like the shape of the gothic windows (the pointed tops seemed dangerous) so I redesigned them. I drew them as ovals. I also remember winning a drawing competition for children on the Queen Elizabeth when we sailed from London to Montreal in 1966 – I drew a luggage since I was really perplexed at how we packed up our entire belongings into some suitcases to go to the new world.
KARIM RASHID DESIGN IS NOW ONE OF THE TOP INTERNATIONAL REFERENCES OF TODAY’S DESIGN INDUSTRY. HOW WAS THE STUDIO BORN?
Karim Rashid: My career really started in 1992 (when I was 32) when I moved to New York City. I was penniless but started drawing objects romanticizing about the beautiful world I always wanted to shape. I found a rundown loft without kitchen or bathroom and struggled to survive. After approaching about 100 companies from Lazy boy to Gillette, I only got one client. And I started teaching at Pratt Institute and worked alone for a few years before hiring some staff. I was determined to create a successful practice. That was 29 years ago!
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR SIGNATURE STYLE?
Karim Rashid: I call my design Sensual Minimalism. Sensual minimalism is reductive but humanized. I mean that in certain objects I am using straight pure geometry but it is married with the organic. Digital Tools inspire me to make forms as sensual, as human, as evocative, as sculptural as possible but through new shapes that were historically impossible to make.
WE KNOW EACH DESIGNER HAS ITS OWN INSPIRATION SOURCE AND VISION FOR A DETERMINED PROJECT. TELL US LITTLE BIT MORE ABOUT YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS.
Karim Rashid: I don’t take inspiration from any one place or thing. Inspiration comes from being creative within the criteria of a project, and as well from functional needs and desires. always found myself having more ideas than companies could ever produce. I perpetually observe and analysis and dissect everything around me in our built environments.
IF YOU COULD DESCRIBE A DESIGN BY (PROJECT OR PRODUCT) KARIM RASHID IN THREE WORDS, HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE IT?
Karim Rashid: Human, Sensual, Biomorphic
AND WHAT ABOUT YOUR CLIENTS? HOW DO YOU THINK THEY DESCRIBE YOUR IDEAS IN THREE WORDS?
Karim Rashid: Haha, I think you should ask them.
DO YOU THINK THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN DESIGNER AND CLIENT IS A FUNDAMENTAL PART OF THE CREATIVE PROCESS? WHY?
Karim Rashid: Absolutely! Each client presents its own challenge and its own possibility. I work with the strengths of the client – if they work with glass, fiberglass, 3D printing, wood, roto molding, injection molding because these are the cultures of the company – and design is about this collaboration. A designer must understand completely the culture and history of a company, their vision and their market.
IF HAD TO NAME THE PROJECT OF YOUR CAREER AND YOUR LIFE, WHICH IT WOULD BE AND WHY?
Karim Rashid: It’s still to come.
AS A DESIGNER, HOW MUCH IN YOUR OPINION IS IMPORTANT FOLLOWING THE DESIGN TRENDS ESTABLISHED IN THE INDUSTRY?
Karim Rashid: People like to assume that design moves with more superficial trends, but it is technology and humanity that drives us. Industrial design and Interior design are driven by designers embracing new technologies, whether it is material chemistry, production method, or mechanical invention.
Photography by ©DelightFULL
The 62-year-old designer is of Egyptian-Canadian descent. His designs include luxury goods, furniture, lighting, surface design, brand identity and packaging.