Egyptian-born and Canadian-raised international design visionary Karim Rashid is known for applying inspiring touches to luxury goods, furniture, lighting, branding and packaging.
NextHome caught up with him at the recent Interior Design Show in Toronto to… well, to get inspired!
NextHome: How would you describe your ethos?
Karim Rashid: Designers must develop forms that are informed through broader issues of changing cultural, social and political phenomena. When I design something new, I consider emotional qualities, human experience, performance, production efficiency, new materials, new processes. I am concerned with a product’s lifespan, sustainable issues, social behaviours, price points, and on and on.
NH: How do you bring your design philosophy into your living space at home?
KR: I spend half my year traveling and living out of hotel suites. So my home is like my perfect hotel suite – but I’m surrounded by all my designs and inspiring objects. It is a lesson in minimalism in that I only have objects that bring me joy and are contemporary to my life.
NH: Describe your home style in three words.
KR: Colourful, organized and efficient.
NH: What is your greatest source of inspiration?
KR: I don’t take inspiration from any one place, person or thing. I constantly travel and get inspired by the unfamiliar, so even the lost local places of industrial parks, airport hotels, alleyways in big cities, taxis in London, a gym in Hong Kong, a bathroom in Paris, a prop plane in Sweden, a cinema in Milan, a Renault in Sweden, food in Qatar, shanty towns in South Africa. Anything that is new to my senses, unusual and odd, inspires me. Beauty is in everything – if we want to see it.
NH: What is your earliest design memory?
KR: At the age of five in London, I went sketching with my father in England, drawing churches. He taught me to see – he taught me perspective at that age. He taught me that I could design anything and touch all aspects of our physical landscape. I remember drawing a cathedral facade and deciding I did not like the shape of the Gothic windows, so I redesigned them. I drew them as ovals. I also remember winning a drawing competition for children – I drew luggage, my ideas of how to travel.
NH: What’s your design pet peeve?
KR: Uncomfortable chairs. We’ve designed thousands of chairs over thousands of years. There is no reason to have an uncomfortable chair.
NH: Your proudest design moment?
KR: I am very proud of receiving five honorary doctorates, being inducted into the Interior Design Magazine Hall of Fame and receiving more than 400 awards in the last 20 years. It is an honour to receive such awards, but the real accolade is seeing my objects in average people’s homes or seeing people realize, enjoy or experience a space. Design is for people, not for museums. The highlight now is to see that more than one million people on Facebook like me because I always saw design as a populist act, not an elitist act.
NH: What do you do, or where do you go, when you need to recharge or unplug?
KR: I travel so much that when I’m not working and have a holiday, I prefer to stay home. I love to work out, cook, and work on my mental and spiritual health by going to museums and galleries and embracing creativity on every level. I love sketching, watching films, listening to music, deejaying, sleeping and dreaming and thinking about the world, love, people, peace, beauty and about one romantic engaging the fulgent energetic seductive inspiring place we call Earth. I also love spending a few extra days in Miami, Istanbul, Berlin, Cancun and anywhere I am traveling.
NH: Favourite city?
KR: All cities have many amazing things to offer, but at the same time very few cities are well designed, and many have problems such as traffic congestion, too much visual and physical pollution, signage and parking issues… so no city is perfect. But those I like for their energy, culture and progress include Stockholm, Milan, Shanghai, Moscow, Bucharest, Tokyo, London, Miami, Copenhagen and Toronto.
NH: What can we expect from you next?
KR: A new budget hotel I designed in Amsterdam is opening soon. And right now, I’m working on a pop-up store for a French shoe brand, a line of eyewear for a Korean brand, new lighting with Axo Light, an electronic bidet, an extension of my Lamborghini furniture collection, some projects for a Milan fair and Venice biennial, a new water bottle, a retail complex in Saudi Arabia, hotel interiors in Norway, Germany and Switzerland, an office interior in India, and a fantastic modern condo in Moscow – among other projects.