Philippe Starck

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Philippe Starck, 2007

Philippe Patrick Starck (born January 18, 1949) is a French product designer, whose designs range from interior designs to mass-produced consumer goods such as toothbrushes, chairs, and even houses.


  • Everything I do is a symbol. Everything, has a meaning.
    • Starck (1986) in: New York Magazine Vol. 19, nr. 39 (Oct 6, 1986) p. 30 (online)
  • This museum is like a ghost train—at every stage you find a surprise. Intuition prepares you for enlightenment, not audio-visual lectures. There's less to read, more to fee.
    • Starck cited in: Priscilla Boniface, Peter Jon Fowler (1993) Heritage and Tourism: In the Global Village. p. 161: Starck is talking about the Groninger Museum.
  • A toothbrush is 28 grams of matter, 28 francs to buy and it's made to get rid of scraps of meat from between the teeth. Every gram of matter must provide its service as best it can. My trade is to be a producer of fertile surprises, an opener of doors in people's head.
    • Starck (1994) Psychanalyse de l'object Starck" in: Le Monde Jan 27, 1994: Cited in: Philippe Patrick Starck (2003) Starck in words. p. 43
  • I try to rediscover why that object exists at all, and why one should take the trouble to reconsider It. I don't consider the technical or commercial parameters so much as the desire for a dream that humans have attempted to project onto an object.
    • Starck (1996) in: Graphis: International Journal for Graphic and Applied Art (1996) Vol 7; Vol 52. p. 7
  • It is important to inject love into the place where you live. It is not healthy to rent an interior designer to create a home for you because it is not good to live in another person's fantasy. People should select for themselves and stamp their own identity on a place. They should mix and match everything to make their own cocktail.
    • Attributed to Starck in: Vinny Lee (2002) The Essential Guide to Decorating
  • The world wants water not taps, the world wants warmth not a heater.
    • Attributed to Starck in: Iain Ellwood (2002) The Essential Brand Book. p. 148
  • I have refused everybody, including A-list celebrities.
    • Starck (2006) in: "Starck Ting: March 2006" at, 2006-03-01
  • I think if I directly design their apartment, I will not help them... If you are rich and famous and you buy an apartment (house) and you don't know what to do, you will rent an interior designer. But in the end you will not make your own home. You will take the prefab life made by your interior designer and that is stupid. With ICON you will do it yourself.
    • Starck (2006) in: "Starck Ting: March 2006" at, 2006-03-01
  • My idea is to bring happiness, respect, vision. poetry, surrealism and magic [to design]. We have to replace beauty, which is a cultural concept, with goodness, which is a humanist concept'.
    • Starck as cited in: David Barlex (2007) Design & technology. p. 33
  • You must have your own responsibility, your own consciousness.
    • Starck (2007) "Starck speaks: Politics, Pleasure and Play" in: The New Architectural Pragmatism William S. Saunders ed. p. 36
  • I am just a copier, an impostor. I wait, I read magazines. After a while my brains send me a product... I am my brain's publisher.
    • Attributed to Starck in: Wichert van Engelen (2007) Ideeėn genoeg. p. 25
  • D'un point de vue structurel, le design est totalement inutile... J'ai essayé de donner à mes produits un peu de sens et d'énergie. Mais même quand j'ai donné le meilleur de moi-même, c'était absurde.
    • From a structural point of view, design is totally useless... I tried to give my products a little sense and energy. But even when I gave the best of myself, it was absurd.
    • Starck (2008) in: "Les doutes existentiels de Philippe Starck", Marie-Douce Albert, Le Figaro, March 28, 2008, p. 32

Starck, 2000

Philippe Starck, Simone Philippi (eds.) (2000) Starck. Taschen
  • I'm trying to move towards making objects which are honest, objects for non-consumers, for "modern rebels". Look, there are already millions of excellent chairs which are very comfortable, lamps which provide light, and so on. Is it necessary to create any more? The only question is: what will it bring to the human being who is going to use it? The urgent thing today is not to create a car or a chair which is more beautiful than another; what is urgent is for us all to fight with every means at our disposal against the fact that something is becoming extinct: love.
  • Today, the problem is not to produce more so you can sell more. The fundamental question is that of the product's right to exist. And it is the designer's right and duty, in the first place, to question the legitimacy of the product, and that is how he too comes to exist. Depending on what answer he comes up with, one of the most positive things a designer can do is refuse to do anything,
  • I outlawed the word 'user' in all company meetings, and insisted it be replaced by the words 'my friend', 'my wife', 'my daughter', 'my mother' or 'myself'. It doesn't sound the same at all, if you say: 'It doesn't matter, it's shit, but the user will make do with it', or if you start over and say; 'It's shit, but it doesn't matter, my daughter will make do with it.' All of a sudden, you can't get away with it anymore. All of a sudden, you can't get away with it anymore. There is an enormous task to be done with this kind of symbolic repositioning.
  • [M]y main task when I was artistic director at Thomson for four years: to make the company virtuous. Not because there was a desire there to do evil, but because they had simply forgotten their purpose in life - to be of service, to use their skills to be of service. It is essential to try to play the role of a friendly "enemy within". That is, to catch the interest of these big companies so that they make money available, and research facilities, and distribution networks, for this return to what is the origin of all their activities - to serve others. It even means changing the words they use. One of the things I did at Thomson was to change their name. Thomson used to be called TCE, Thomson Consumer Electronic, and I asked them: who wants to be a "consumer of electronics?"
  • [At Thomson] the other important thing I did was that I outlawed the word "consumer" in all company meetings, and insisted it be replaced by the words "my friend", "my wife", "my daughter", "my mother", or "myself." It doesn't sound the same at all, if you say: "It doesn't matter, it's shit, but the consumers will make do with it," or if you start over again and say: "It's shit, but it doesn't matter, my daughter will make do with it. All of a sudden, you can’t get away with it anymore. There is an enormous task to be done with this kind of symbolic repositioning.

Design and destiny, 2007

Philippe Starck (2007) "Design and destiny" TED talk, March 2007 (online)
  • In perhaps 50 years, 60 years, we can finish completely this civilization, and offer to our children the possibility to invent a new story, a new poetry, a new romanticism.”
  • Nobody is obliged to be genious but everybody is obliged to participate.
  • God is the answer when we don't know the answer.

Life’s Work: Philippe Starck (2013)

Starck, Alison Beard (2013) "Life’s Work: Philippe Starck: An Interview with Philippe Starck by Alison Beard" in: Harvard Business Review, April 2013 (parts online)
  • I am sort of a modern monk. My wife and I have a collection of cabins in the middle of nowhere, and we stay out of everything. We don’t go to dinners. We don’t go to cocktails. We don’t go to movies. We don’t watch TV. I don’t use my energy on other people. I just work and read. I live with myself in front of my white page. Of course, for much of the year I have to travel, speak to journalists, engineers, things like that, and it’s the worst. But from the 15th of June to the 15th of September, I live completely secluded, locked in one of my houses, working from 8 in the morning to 8 at night, or making my own biorhythm: work three hours, sleep 45 minutes, work three hours, sleep 45 minutes, for 24 hours, without eating. It’s a little sick. But I’m like Dr. Faust. I signed a contract with the devil to sell my life for creativity.
    • Starck answer to the question: "What’s the secret to working so quickly and productively?"
  • I manage by absence. I go to the office two, three days a month, and those are the worst days for me. So the people on my team do what they want, when they want, but the results have to be perfect, crystal perfect. I cannot accept laziness or something that is not intelligent or any type of delay. If we say we will deliver a project on the 20th at 5 PM, on the 20th at 5 PM we shall blow the minds of the people we’re presenting to.
    • Starck answer to the question: "Are you a good boss?"

Quotes about Philippe Starck

  • The enduring influence of Memphis can be seen in the groundbreaking work of French designer Philippe Starck. His prescient 1984 Café Costes interior combines futurism and nostalgia—a mix which resonates in subsequent projects like the 1988 Royalton Hotel in New York, and the long-legged lemon juicer he designed in 1990.
    • LLC Pantone, Leatrice Eiseman, Keith Recker (2011) Pantone: The Twentieth Century in Color
  • Philippe Starck has said that he can design a chair in two minutes and a hotel in a day and a half. Preferring to work alone, sometimes “naked in the bedroom,” the Frenchman has devised thousands of products, interiors, and buildings for clients ranging from Microsoft to Baccarat.
    • Alison Beard (2013) "Life’s Work: Philippe Starck" in: Harvard Business Review, April 2013
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