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Six degrees

Mark Peters

 

Photo: Bloomberg

 

The Bauhaus art movement (works from which can be seen at the “German Design Standards” exhibition, at the HKDI Gallery, Tseung Kwan O) started in Weimar, Germany in 1919, following the end of the first world war and the abolition of censorship. The school aimed to bring all the visual arts together under one roof and spawned one of the most influential styles in modernist design and architecture, before closing in 1939 under pressure from the Nazi regime. Its last director, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, designed, among other things, Washington DC’s Memorial Library, later named in honour of Martin Luther King Jr …

 

The African-American Nobel Peace Prize-winning clergyman was shot and killed on April 4, 1968, at the age of 39, leaving a legacy of momentous progress towards social justice and civil rights. In 2002, to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr Day, the people of Lauderhill, Florida, presented their guest speaker with a plaque thanking him for “keeping the dream alive”. Unfortunately, its inscription bore the name of James Earl Ray, the man who pleaded guilty to King’s assassination, rather than the deep-voiced actor being honoured, James Earl Jones …

 

Famed for providing the booming voice of Star Wars villain Darth Vader, the star of stage and screen was, as a child, a selective mute. After the traumatic separation from his mother at the age of five, Jones developed a stutter so severe that he refused to speak for eight years, after which, encouragement from a high school English teacher finally gave him the confidence to end his silence. The actor starred as an animated admiral in the educational sci-fi movie Quantum Quest, alongside Canadian actor William Shatner …

 

Shatner played the captain of the USS Enterprise in the original Star Trek and has released three albums featuring his spoken word and musical talents. Seeking Major Tom, from 2011, includes a “stunning” cover of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, the accompanying video for which features a Shatner-faced moon. The former Captain Kirk also performed the role of Boston Legal’s womanising attorney Denny Crane. Most episodes of the show ended with Shatner and his co-star, James Spader, relaxing with an after work cigar on Crane’s balcony. The Bubble Club Chair supporting him in the scenes was designed by Philippe Starck …

 

Starck is widely regarded as one of the world’s foremost and most wide-ranging product designers. He confessed to German newspaper Die Zeit in 2008 that, “Everything I designed was unnecessary … I was a producer of materiality and I am ashamed of this fact”. Another of Starck’s designs was Venus, the €100 million (HK$1 billion) superyacht which was impounded in Amsterdam in December in a dispute over unpaid fees to the designer, the luxury vessel having belonged to the late Steve Jobs …

 

Jobs was once a practitioner of Zen Buddhism and led a deeply spiritual life. The Apple co-founder’s embrace of meditation may well have honed his zenlike ability to focus, as his vision shaped the distinctive look that became the hallmark of his company’s iconic products. His design philosophy was born in 1981, when Jobs was first exposed to the minimalist style of the Bauhaus art movement.

 

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