Philippe Starck (b.1949) is a French designer known since the start of his career in the 1980s for his interior, product, industrial and architectural design including furniture. The son of an aeronautical engineer, Starck studied at the École Camondo in Paris. An inflatable structure he imagined in 1969 was a first incursion into questions of materiality, and an early indicator of Starck's interest in where and how people live. In the same year, Pierre Cardin appointed Starck as the art director of his furniture sector.
While working for Adidas, Starck set up his first industrial design company, Starck Product, which he later renamed Ubik and began working with manufacturers in Italy ( Driade), Alessi, Kartell and internationally, including Austria's Drimmer, Vitra in Switzerland and Spain's Disform. His concept of democratic design led him to focus on mass-produced consumer goods rather than one-off pieces, seeking ways to reduce cost and improve quality in mass-market goods.
In 1983, French President François Mitterrand, on the recommendation of his Minister of Culture, Jack Lang, chose Starck to refurbish the president's private apartments at the Élysée. The following year he designed the Café Costes.
Starck's output expanded to include furniture, decoration, architecture, street furniture, industry (wind turbines, photo booths), bathroom fittings, kitchens, floor and wall coverings, lighting, domestic appliances, office equipment such as staplers, utensils (including a juice squeezer and a toothbrush), tableware, clothing, accessories (shoes, eyewear, luggage, watches) toys, glassware (perfume bottles, mirrors), graphic design and publishing, even food (Panzani pasta, Lenôtre Yule log), and vehicles for land, sea, air and space (bikes, motorbikes, yachts, planes).
In November 2012, Starck published his first book of interviews, Impression d'Ailleurs, with Gilles Vanderpooten. In it, he expresses his view of the challenges facing the world to come – ecology, solidarity, youth, science – and, as a humanist, suggests ways we can make a difference.
His work is seen in the collections of European and American museums, including the Musée National d'Art Moderne (to which he has donated several pieces, in particular prototypes) the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, the MOMA and the Brooklyn Museum in New York City, the Vitra Design Museum in Basel and the Design Museum in London. More than 660 of his designs were inventoried in French public collections in 2011.