The first project Philippe Starck ever designed was a detailed plan for a torture chamber to use on his teacher. "I was 6 or 7," he says. "Sadly, I still have not used it."
Clearly, the prolific French designer has managed to make up for those early missteps. Since then, Starck, 58, has masterminded everything from flyswatters to hotels to teddy bears. But he is disenchanted with products. "Today we have too many products," he says. "I have the ambition to create less product and more direct action."
Starck's goals are not exactly modest. First he'd like to democratize space. He's designing the space station, suits, interior cabins and logo for Virgin Galactic, the space-tourism company founded by Richard Branson of the Virgin Group. While $200,000 for a couple of hours in space may not feel very democratic, it's one of the first opportunities civilian travelers will have to visit there. He'd also like to make ecologically responsible products accessible to a broader public. In the works are a small hydrogen-powered car and moped and an affordably priced windmill. Then there's a new chain of luxury hotelstouted as a Four Seasons for a new generation, with organic snacks in the mini-fridgeslated to launch in Los Angeles next spring.
"Twenty-five years ago, we made a revolution in the hotel business with what people call now the boutique hotel," he says, referring to his work with Ian Schrager. "Now, I'm making another revolution in the hotel business with a lot of new ecological parameters." All the talk of revolution might sound like bravado, but given Starck's track record, he may just be the man for the jobeven if he did have a rocky start.
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