NEW YORK — Like most industrial designers, Karim Rashid likes nothing better than transforming man-made objects from banal to beautiful.
But Rashid is far from run-of-the-mill. He has designed more than 2,000 pieces so far, including sculptures, chairs, chess sets, sneakers, computers, stores, restaurants and clothing. But the “blobject,” curvy, bright-colored items, is the look he’s best known for.
Tall and lanky, with a warm manner, he described his style as sensuous minimalism and said he is inspired by technology and how we live.
“I think the most inspiring thing for me is to do some work that has some nuance of originality,” he said during an interview before his appearance at the Japan Society’s recent symposium.”
Born in Cairo, raised in the U.K. and Canada, and a New Yorker for almost 12 years, Rashid said he does not feel as if he is from anywhere in particular. He was an early proponent of technology, using computer aided design software to design one of his first commissions in 1985, and has had his own clothing line in Canada. More recently, he collaborated with Pia Myrvold on Cybercouture, a line of clothing that allows online customers to choose the placement of fabric patterns.
“Fashion, first of all, doesn’t know where it can go anymore,’’ he said. “It’s exhausted the standard [building] blocks — jacket, pants, all that kind of stuff — and there’s very little, if any, new original work or creativity. I would love one day to have a fashion line, to do it again. The real future of fashion and of everything is going to be personalized and customized.”
Fashion must roboticize itself, since it is too costly to make pieces individually, he said. Eventually, it will be possible to make one-off goods using any kind of software to direct the machines.
“We will have a say in everything. You will actually probably in some way be able to morph and shift and change your own architecture as a consumer online. You can design your own house. You can go online now and more or less design your own shoes,” he said. “If I buy a car tomorrow, for example, I should be able to have a driver’s seat customized exactly to my body.”A hybrid car, stoves and MP3 players are other objects he would like to design. As much as Rashid embraces technology, aesthetics and human beings come first.
“A carpet you can [tell] to warm up and change color — that’s the kind of technology I’m interested in,” he said.
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