“I am inspired by the world around us. We are all human and need and desire human connections”. Karim Rashid
Karim Rashid is an industrial designer and interior architect. His designs include luxury goods, furniture, lighting, surface design, brand identity, and packaging. Time magazine has described him as the "most famous industrial designer in all the Americas".
Rashid is one of the most productive designers of his generation. With over 3000 designs under his belt and 300 awards, Karim Rashid is the legend in the design world. Le CITY Deluxe had the pleasure to interview Karim Rashid and
learn what inspires, moves and excites the interior design icon.
Tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am who I am. I am because I create. To be is to create. I always saw myself as a pluralist, even when I was a student. I did not like the idea of specialization and admired creative people who touched many different aspects of visual culture. I am interested in shaping a beautiful more seamless, more comfortable and most importantly, more inspiring future.
How did you get into Interior Design?
In 1999 Giorgio Armani asked me to design three shops for NYC, Paris and Tokyo to define the 21st century for his brand. He said he approached me because he saw that my work embraced new technologies and thought I could reinvent shopping. I always wanted to design interior architecture but needed an opportunity. I proposed shops with no clothes. When you enter a full 3D body scanner would scan your body, and then you would see yourself full-scale behind large mirror plasma screens. Then you could drag with your finger all of Armani's 30 years of archives onto your body and see yourself in 3D. The shops also had a runway with models constantly walking on it to show the latest collections only. Obviously, this was all too premature as the technologies were not ubiquitous like today, and the costs were quite prohibitive, unlike today. Then Stephan Starr approached me to design a new Morimoto restaurant in Philadelphia in 2000. That was a turning point for me because it was so successful that it really gave me the opportunity to design about 100 interiors globally since then and have recently begun quite a few full architecture projects, condos in New York, Miami, Tel Aviv, St. Petersburg, Riga, etc. What I love about working with architecture and interior space is that I have the opportunity to really influence human experience beyond an object.
What inspires you?
I am inspired by the world around us. We are all human and need and desire human connections. So we can develop the inanimate world to be an extension of our emotions and our physical being. I am also very inspired by my travels. The best way to see any place is to work there and learn a culture from within. Design for me is like I am a cultural editor, I absorb information like a sponge and have a great memory to retain and dissect that information. I observe and memorize, then I read every bit of literature on the area, then I try to see and film
everything. I smell, listen, touch, and taste as much as I can in the shortest amount of time. Every place inspires me - I love and get inspired usually by the unfamiliar so even the lost local places of industrial parks, airport’s hotels in small towns, alleyways in big cities, taxis in London, a gym in Hong Kong, a bathroom in Paris, a prop plane in Sweden, a cinema in Milan, a Renault in Sweden, food in Qatar, shanty towns in South Africa, anything that is new to my senses, unusual, odd, inspires me. Beauty is in everything if we want to see it.
Ideas are abundant if we want to embrace them.
Tell us about your collaboration with BoConcept? What have you created for them?
I was very flattered to be invited to work with BoConcept because I've respected their brand for so long and even purchased some of their furniture. I always felt they had a similar feeling and climate to one another. I was also inspired by BoConcept’s history of democratic design which is very much in line with my philosophy. I created a dining collection of a modular table, chairs, sideboard, hutch, lamp, tableware, and accessories. My favorite piece is the chair itself. It’s a leaf-like form. The shapes of the legs of the chair, table, and sideboard seem to create a forest of trees; a branchy landscape. The best part of the chair is that it’s comfortable!!! All the detailing of the collection is soft so you feel relaxed and invited into a home.
What are some of the other high profile projects you worked?
I was the design director for Method Home, styling and creating their brand which is now in every home. I created beautiful limited edition objects for Veuve Clicquot. They gave me great freedom because they are not manufacturers with
strict guidelines on what they create. Artemide, Italy has been a long-standing client because they continue to produce magnificent lighting. I’ve also worked with Umbra, Audi, Dirt Devil, Swavorski, Citibank, Nhow Hotels, Related Group to name a few.
What is your style of design? And why?
I call my work sensual minimalism because it is reductive yet human, minimal yet organic and amorphous. I use organic curves to break up an atmosphere
and create strong statements, hopefully achieving a sense of vitality and stunning beauty.
What do you think of minimalist designs and the idea of "less is more"?
I think that as designers we tend to clean up the world – we make order from chaos. Yet 'modernism' and minimalism is sterile and too brutal to live in. I have said this for years. I believe there is a trend away from tired archetypes, and/or
very cold minimalism. I wanted to challenge the boundaries of design, to bring a fulgent vibrancy to an environment.
Have you ever been or worked in Miami?
Yes, I own a home in South Beach in a building designed by Chad Oppenheim. It’s been a joy to get to know Miami Beach. Most people know South Beach, but all Miami Beach and even surrounding areas such as Bal Harbour, Surfside, and Key Biscayne are all really beautiful and quite remote. My first visit was 30 years ago when it was a small retirement village for old people full of small art deco buildings that were decrepit. I then returned 10 years ago for Art Basel and I’ve
been coming back ever since. My wife and I love strolling from 23rd down to the south of fifth, stopping for Cuban food or coffee or working out at Equinox Gym. Also, we like suntanning nude at Haulover Beach Park. I’ve since designed a new condo with the Related Group, called My Brickell, set to open any day now.