Thursday, 18 February 2016

A Very Disillusioned Philippe Starck

The German magazine Die Zeit recently published a very interesting interview with famous french designer Philippe Starck on the heels of his much quoted speech at the TED conference last year. In it he proclaims that his sort of design – is dead. Not only does he say it's dead, he actually feels ashamed for being a producer of materiality, and is pondering retirement for a life with more meaning.

For all young start-up designers out there, being Philippe Starck, or becoming the Philippe Starck of the 21st century sounds like a beautiful dream. He's famous, he's wealthy, his tastes are trusted and sought out, he's designed some of the most beautiful, interesting and simple objects. He's designed for Microsoft, Aprilia and Target. He's published, he's quoted, his speaking fees are astronomical... He's done it all.

But... Is that enough nowadays? We are now in the midst of a backlash against excessive and unnecessary design, and the interesting thing is that it is mostly coming from the design world itself. Designers are starting to realize that their jobs are, well, unnecessary. We are tired of ourselves. Tired of creating useless things that will pollute our planet, tired of selling lies so some giant company can become even richer. We're tired of intentionally confusing consumers, and purposefully distracting them with shiny colors, eye-candy and slogans.

Designers seem to be looking for meaning. They are trying to make the word design less synonymous with websites and products, and more synonymous with innovation and ideas. Ideas that will help society, organize poorly designed experiences, inform consumers properly, and give the people the tools they need to create their own experiences.

If even Philippe Starck can't find meaning in his job anymore, it's time to re-think what design really means, and how we can use it for good.

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