Karim Rashid’s story

Intresting interview with Karim Rashid which I found on Design Story website .

Born in Egypt, raised in Canada, educated in Italy, Karim Rashid now resides in New York. Perhaps one of the most high-profile ambassadors of global design, Rashid is startlingly prolific. Products, identity, interiors, exhibits—Rashid takes the same democratic approach to every project. He has applied his signature “sensual minimalism” to work for Samsung, Deutsche Bank, Audi, Method, Dirt Devil, Artemide, CitiBank…oh, the list goes on and on. His Garbo Bin, a bold and colorful reimagining of a lowly garbage pail, is included in MoMA’s permanent collection.

Talking to Karim Rashid

What does “contemporary” mean to you? How does it inform your design?

My real desire is to see people live in the modus of our time, to release themselves from nostalgia, antiquated traditions, old rituals and meaningless kitsch. We should be sensorially attuned with this world in this moment.

That term “sensorially attuned” makes me think of your bold use of color.

Color is one of the most beautiful phenomena of our existence. For me color is life and a way of dealing with and touching our emotions, our psyche and our spiritual being. I always say, “use color to express yourself.” Don’t be afraid of that bright orange chair. Paint your wall lime green. Be brave when it comes to carpets, countertops and tables. Color is beautiful and it’s all about self-expression. Be yourself.

How is your work an expression of yourself?

Work is life. I used to live just a floor above my studio, making my work and personal life inseparable. When my wife, Ivana, was moving to New York City with me, we ran around looking for a new loft so we could start a fresh life together. We love Manhattan and the Chelsea neighborhood, and I did not want to be far from my office. I’m not upstairs anymore, but it only takes me five minutes to walk to work.

If you don’t love the work you’re doing, then quit. I have no hobbies. Beautifying the world one design at a time is my life.

Your passion for your work is evident. How does this passion get expressed in, say, a brand identity for CitiBank as compared to designing a trash bin for Umbra? What makes both Karim Rashid endeavors?

I define my work as “sensual minimalism,” or “sensualism,” where objects communicate, engage and inspire, yet remain fairly minimal. They can speak simply and directly, without superfluousness. My work is a marriage of organic and pure geometry, of technology and materials. I am incredibly frustrated with the mass ugly things that surround us.

Everything needs to be designed. I design objects as experience. Objects play into the conditioning of our behaviors, they dictate they way we live, the way we interact, the modus operandi of our movements. Our lives are elevated when we experience beauty, comfort, luxury, performance and utility seamlessly together.

DesignStory has sold your design through a company called Slice. Could you tell us how you got involved with them?

T.J. Scimone from Slice approached me to create tools that cut using ceramic blades, while maintaining a focus on design. I thought it was a great opportunity to help create a brand that is friendly, well-designed, democratic and functional. Meanwhile, there were little or no competitive products at the time. Because of the safety of the blade and the bulbous easy to hold form and finish of the pen, they can be used by children. We’ve heard so much positive feedback from teachers of kids with developmental difficulties, it was a very fulfilling project for me.

What’s your all-time favorite Karim design?

I am so proud of the Garbo Can for Umbra. Paul Rowan of Umbra asked me to study waste baskets, and I remember drawing about 50 ideas. At the time, the ubiquitous plastic wastebasket on the market was a rectangular black can with absolutely no character. I think banal objects need life, they need presence, but they also need to make awful tasks more pleasant. I immediately thought about a more sensual object, an object that is wider at the top than the bottom, and then raised handles in order to make it function better. I use recycled polypropylene in various colors to give a lightness, an ephemeral quality to the object. Make it casual, to float it, de-stress a chore, to add color, simplicity and sensualness to one’s space.