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Home Front: Take Four With Karim Rashid, Poet of Plastic


HS: You've said you want people to love industrial design as much as they love clothes. What's one thing about industrial design you wish "civilians" were more aware of? What gets most overlooked in your work?

I just feel that I need to exist and be alive in a contemporary world — one that is poetic, beautiful, experiential, exotic, intelligent, pure, smart, peaceful and highly energetic and inspiring. To live in a contemporary context is to be alive at this moment.

Who and what inspires you?

Cultures, politics, society, factories, technologies, machinery, people, behavior, philosophy, artÿmovements and artistic endeavors, all the creative disciplines inspire me. I am also very inspired from my travels. The best way to see any place is to work there. Design for me is like being a cultural editor — I absorb information like a sponge and have a great memory to retain and dissect that information. I observe and memorize a map, then I read every bit of literature on the area, then I try to see and film everything. I smell, listen, touch and taste as much as I can in the shortest amount of time. Every place inspires me — 44 years of living inspires me. I love and get inspired usually by the unfamiliar, so even the lost local places of industrial parks, airports, hotels in small towns, alleyways in big cities, a party in Belgrade, a conversation in Holland, taxis in London, a gym in Hong Kong, a bathroom in Paris, a prop plane in Norway, a cinema in Milan, a Renault in Sweden, a restaurant in Hong Kong, food in Qatar, shantytowns in South Africa — anything that is new to my senses, unusual, odd, inspires me. Beauty is in everything.

Richmond is full of history nuts. What kind of advice would you give to people interested in integrating contemporary pieces in spaces with historical detail?

I think we should actually ignore the historical details and just make very contemporary installations, additions, spaces and objects that are touching this milieu. The past is the past. There is absolutely no reason to imitate or simulate it — or try to marry it. It is our history to respect, and admire, but to let it go —almost as the historic stage sets our props of life — and allow it to exist as monuments of our past, and only that. We must evolve the world and everyday life.

How a piece works all together is important, but when people look at a piece, what element of design should they pay most attention to? Texture, color, structure?

I think that eachÿobject, each typology has its own hierarchy of presence. Each thing has a semantic communication, and it is the semantic message that is firstly received and we pay attention to. The semantic of a thing is what triggers our emotions — so in fact it is our emotions that need to be fulfilled firstly. The language of the object, the space, the art.

Karim Rashid will be at La Différence Saturday, May 7, from 4 to 6 p.m. For more information, call (804) 648-6210.


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