Philippe Starck (1949 – ) the artist-designer

Phillippe Starck featured image
Phillippe Starck featured image

Phillippe Starck is one of the most widely known artist‐designer ‘names’ in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, Starck is one of France’s most fĂȘted designers who has worked across a wide range of media. His work epitomises the intersection of art and design, its often fanciful qualities attracting both critical approbation and criticism, particularly in such commissions as pasta for Panzani (1987). 


His clients have included many leading international companies with a commitment to extending the visual syntax of design in Europe, the United States, and East Asia. These have included; AlessiCassinaDriadeFlosVitraKartellBaccarat, and Magis


Starck attended the École Nissim de Camondo in Paris in the 1960s.


Starck established a company to produce inflatable products in 1968. In the following decade, he designed a series of nightclubs, establishing the Starck Product Company in 1979. Starck’s celebrity status owed much to the French state’s design policies, following the VIA’s establishment (Valorisation pour l’Innovation dans l’Ameublement) in 1980 and its involvement with designers such as Martin Szekely, Garouste and Bonetti, and Starck himself. 

He also designed a suite of rooms for President Mitterrand at the ElysĂ©e Palace in Paris in 1982, a commission that led to considerable media attention. 

Interior design

His interest in interior design continued during the rest of the decade with commissions in Japan, Spain, and France, including the CafĂ© Costes in Paris in 1984 with a three‐legged chair put into production by the Italian furniture manufacturer Driade. His collaboration with Driade had commenced in 1984 and, in addition to the Costes Chair, included the Ubik range (1985), the Lord Yo chair (1994), and, later, the Pipe Armless chair (2010).

Café Costes, Paris

“That’s the chair of CafĂ© Costes, I can say that I’m proud of it because it’s a huge success, a deserved success because it’s a small, intelligent, light, cheap object in which we live. he has won 14 Oscars, it does not try to be too demonstrative, it has a certain form of discretion, it is a real success of contemporary furniture.

Alessi Company

Another significant collaboration with Italian manufacturing industry was with the Alessi company, commencing in 1986 and incorporating such iconic products as the Hot Bertaa kettle and the Juicy Salif lemon squeezer (1990). Much of Starck’s work was highly individualistic, with strong artistic leanings. His work was experimental, as in his competition design of a plastic bottle for the mineral water company Vittel in 1986. 

Alessi PSJS Juicy Salif Citrus Squeezer (Design Classic) – Encyclopedia of Design

designed by Philippe Starck Philippe Starck designed the Juicy Salif citrous squeezer in aluminium in 1990. Iconic design of the twentieth century that gracefully combines form and function, with a sense of humour.

Homage to fine arts

On other occasions, he paid homage to the fine arts, typified by his celebrated toothbrush (1990) for Fluocaril, a brand name of Goupil Laboratories, its sinuous form paying tribute to the work of the sculptor Brancusi.

Reference to other creativity fields embraced the film, acknowledging the work of a fashionable director in his design of the Wim Wenders stool (1992) for Vitra. Lighting designs ranged from the intimate to the large-scale, such as the playful Miss Sissi table lamp (1991), the Romeo Babe pendant light (1996) and Chapo (2014) for Flos, and distinctive street lamps (1992) for Decaux. 

Industrial designs

Industrial designs have also, since 1990, culminated in audio‐visual products for Thomson such as the Rock’n’Rock CD player, the Lux Lux television for Telefunken (1996), and the To Yoo mobile phone for Thomson/Alessi (1996), as well as the Moto 6.5 motorcycle for Aprilia (1996). 

Amongst other notable commissions were an imaginary house for Les 3 Suisses and the Good Goods catalogue for La Redoute in which, in 1998, he presented over 200 product ideas. He also designed several ‘designer’ hotel interiors, such as those of the New York Royalton (1988) and Paramount (1990) hotels for the entrepreneur Ian Schrager, providing competitively priced accommodation. 

Affordable designer

This notion of affordable ‘designer’ boutique hotels was also followed through in the 2000s in France and Turkey in the Mama Shelter brand of hotels, for which Starck was the chief designer. He was also involved in the design of more luxurious hotels, most notably as the SLS brand’s creative director, and restaurants such as the Katsuya (2006) in Los Angeles and the A’trego (2011) Cap-d’Ail. 


Starck’s work has been the subject of numerous articles and books ranging from professional and critical journals to glossy fashion magazines and coffee-table books. 

His work is held in the permanent collections of museums around the world, including the Design Museum, London, the MusĂ©e National d’Art Moderne and the MusĂ©e des Arts DĂ©coratifs in Paris, the Vitra Museum in Basle, and the Museum of Modern Art, New York. 

He has also been recognised officially through the mounting of a one-person show of his work at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1993, and at the Pompidou Centre in Paris in 2003. 


He has received many awards and honours over the past three decades including the Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres, France (1980), the Grand Prix National de la CrĂ©ation Industrielle, France (1988), the Officier des Arts et des Letters, France (1991), and the Chevalier de l’Ordre National de la LĂ©gion d’Honneur (2000). He was also the first recipient of the Harvard Excellence in Design Award in 1997, winner of the Red Dot (Best of the Best) Award (2001), as well as the recipient of other Red Dot Awards in 1998, 2000, 2005, and 2006, the Compasso d’Oro (2001), the IF Design Award (1998, 2002), the German Design Prize (2011), and other awards in Spain, Switzerland, the USA, and Japan.


Cafe Costes chair by Philippe Starck

Cafe Costes is a smart cafe in Paris. Its interior designer, Philippe Starck, designed this chair especially for it in 1982.The Costes chair has become a symbol of Starck’s much publicised style – simple, elegant and functional. This example was made in Italy in 1985 by Driade.

Philippe Starck. Excalibur Toilet Brush. 1993 | MoMA

Philippe Starck. Excalibur Toilet Brush. 1993. Heller, New York, NY. Polypropylene and nylon. overall: 16 1/2 x 4 3/4″ (41.9 x 12 cm) .a (brush): 16 x 4 1/2″ (40.6 x 11.4 cm) .b (holder): 14 3/4 x 4 3/4″ (37.5 x 12 cm). David Whitney Collection, Gift of David Whitney.

Philippe Starck. Hot Fredo Thermos. 1993 | MoMA

If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

Hans Maier-Aichen, Authentics artipresent GmbH, Germany. LIP Wastepaper Baskets. 1993 | MoMA

Hans Maier-Aichen, Authentics artipresent GmbH, Germany. LIP Wastepaper Baskets. 1993. Authentics artipresent GmbH, Germany. Injection-molded polypropylene. .1: 9 1/2 x 9 1/8 x 5 1/4″ (24.1 x 23.2 x 13.3 cm) .2-.3: 13 1/4 x 12 x 6″ (33.7 x 30.5 x 15.2 cm). Gift of the manufacturer. 216.1998.1-3.

Philippe Starck. Hot Bertaa Kettle. 1987 | MoMA

Manufacturer: Officina Alessi, Italy Medium: Cast aluminum, silicone resin and polyamide Dimensions: 10 x 12 1/2 x 6 5/8″ (25.4 x 31.7 x 16.8 cm) Credit: David Whitney Collection, Gift of David Whitney

PHILIPPE STARCK, a set of 14 ‘Lord Yo’ chairs for Driade, 1994. – Bukowskis

Seat height ca 44, height 94 cm each. Wear. Scratches. Marks. Dirt.


Woodham, J. Starck, Philippe. In A Dictionary of Modern Design. : Oxford University Press. Retrieved 27 Jan. 2021, from

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