'Design is about moving us forward - we don't need to go back': Karim Rashid


Design is about moving us forward - we dont need  to go back: Karim Rashid

Designer Karim Rashid on the importance of creating products that function - and that "speak about the time we live in"


Nilanjana Gupta

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Published: Thu 31 Oct 2019, 7:00 PM

Last updated: Thu 31 Oct 2019, 9:53 PM

International designer Karim Rashid was recently in town for the launch of premium bath décor and accessories brand Casa Milano, the debut venture of entrepreneur Azhar Sajan. WKND caught up with the flamboyant designer for a quick chat on what's happening in the world of design.
Tell us something about the interior design trends in the UAE.
I think interior design trends are a bit global, not just [confined to] the UAE. What's going on (hopefully) is a bit of a reduction... things are becoming a bit more minimal, a little more human; so, the luxury is more about the human experience, not necessarily about the materials. A lot of colour is being introduced. I've been trying to put colour into my projects for 30 years and we're finally realising how important it is to our everyday wellbeing.
What do you keep in mind when creating pieces?
There are three things I usually chase after. One is to do something that hasn't been done in history - which is very difficult. I also try to use technology on many levels. The third is to try and speak about the time in which we live. We're caught between the physical age and the digital, and the latter is more seductive for us. So, if we spend 7-8 hours a day on a screen, what is the physical world like? Is it moving as fast? Is it as innovative, as experiential, as pleasurable as the digital world? As I work, I try to bring those two closer together.
Why is it key for your work to be both beautiful and practical?
Because I think that's what design is. You could argue that something that's only beautiful is style or decoration. But something that functions really well and is beautiful is design. That's the definition of design. It's about the industrial revolution it came from, and the idea behind industrial products is that it has to be smartly made, with good craftsmanship. It's about producing in large amounts, so it's not just craft - it has to work. If you're going to put something on the market that touches one million people (like a mobile phone) or a chair that sells 100,000 pieces, these things have to function. They have to make our lives better. When things function really well, our lives are always much more pleasurable.
What inspires you?
One, observation of social behaviour, the way we live. Two, technologies. Three, from nature, because I think we are nature, so we should design things that are an extension of us. Lastly, every project has its own subject matter, so I try to let that inspire me. For example, if I'm designing a faucet, I don't really think about the object; I think about the experience of it. If I can work with the experience, inevitably, I may be able to do something that's a little better than what's already on the market or something that progresses or evolves us - because, don't forget: design is about moving us forward. It's not about taking us back; we've been there - we don't need to go back.
How has tech changed the world of design and home interiors?
First off, design is inseparable from tech, because it started with the mechanisation of the 20th century. The difference now is that a lot of products are robotically made and there's a lot less 'hand' involved. Because machines can produce more precisely, cost-effectively and faster, you could argue that the way design has evolved is that we've now got better products that are more democratic, accessible to more people.
What is your favourite space in Dubai from a design viewpoint?
Standing at the bottom of the Burj Khalifa - it's a phenomenon. It's amazing we can build this high. It speaks of humanity, that if we have a dream, we can reach it.

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