The Inspiration Issue: Karim Rashid (Part 2/5)
Friday, September 5th, 2014
Images courtesy of Karim Rashid Inc.
When he was just seven years old, Karim Rashid was taken by his father to nearly every day of Quebec’s 1967 International and Universal Exposition, which stirred in the young creator a curiosity about the world and design’s place within it. “There was this sense of a positive collective notion that the future would be the most incredible place,” Rashid says, recalling how captivated he was by a robot-like vacuum cleaner that could clean by itself at the Japanese pavilion. “We went to Expo 1967 constantly to look at the aerospace technology at the Russian pavilion and the furnishings made from plastics at the Italian pavilion. These technological wonders were the beginning for me.”
Today, with more than 3,000 designs in production, 300 awards and counting, and work experience in more than 40 countries, the 54-year-old Rashid is among the most prolific designers in the world. He has dabbled in fashion and music, created interiors of all types (residential, hospitality, commercial, exhibition spaces), and designed lighting, packaging, and products—the latter of which have ubiquitously seeped into our everyday lives whether we’re aware of their origins or not. At the heart of it all lies the Egypt-born and Canada-raised designer’s appreciation for and interest in technology.
“I think that when I was finally mature enough to understand the digital age, I was in university in 1979 studying the now obsolete FORTRAN and COBOLT 80 computer languages in design school,” he says. “I had this overwhelming feeling of excitement and optimism that the Computer Age was going to radically change social human behavior, make our lives better, and be the most pivotal schism in human history.”
"With new technologies and software tools, I can create sensual and organic shapes that have never existed in history."
"I think it's essential that a designer is exposed to as many production methods as possible prior to designing anything."
"I'm very interested in new biodegradable polymers and polymers that are made from other renewable resources instead of depleting our global petroleum supply."
"I'm fortunate to work with [furniture manufacturer] a lot of Brazil, which took on the research to make the Siamese Chair possible. It's made out of a plastic injection of the Amazonian fruit Acai and Ipe Roxo, which is one of the most exported woods in Brazil. The bark is very rich in medicinal nutrients; the removal of the bark, which completely regenerates in two years, happens in the Amazonian region. Forty percent is discarded, as it is excessively moist, and the percentage that is usually elimated is now used to develop liquid wood."
"I purchased my first rapid-prototyping machine in 2001- maybe 2001: A Space Odyssey had something to do with that- so far the past 13 years, I've produced hundreds of rapid prototypes. These models have almost instantaneously give me a realistic 3D design that I can learn from."