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French designer Philippe Starck poses on the eve of the opening of the Salone del Mobile furniture fair in Milan with models of “Miss Dior” Medallion chairs he designed for Dior. Photo: AFP

Unveiling new Dior chair, Philippe Starck predicts end of design: ‘Look at your iPhone – the number of products it replaces, it’s extraordinary’

  • Philippe Starck sees a time when technology will make design skills like his redundant, but for now is full of ideas, and this week presented a chair for Dior
  • The Miss Dior chair is all-aluminium and, the celebrated minimalist says on the sidelines of Milan Furniture Fair, ‘very ecological and totally recyclable’

Philippe Starck made his name making everyday objects extraordinary, but the French designer and architect believes the “dematerialisation” of modern life will soon make such talents redundant.

“What is the future of design? Well, there isn’t one, because you must understand that everything has a birth, a life and a death and for design it is the same,” he says on the sidelines of the Milan Furniture Fair.

He is there to present a new chair created for fashion house Dior, an update on the iconic version of the Louis XVI medallion chair that featured in the first boutique founded by Christian Dior in Paris in 1947.

Starck, 73, is one of the most prolific inventors of his generation, designing everything from top hotels, luxury yachts and best-selling furniture to juicers and toothbrushes.
“Miss Dior” Medallion chairs designed by French designer Philippe Starck for Dior are displayed on the eve of the opening of the Salone del Mobile furniture fair in Milan. Photo: AFP

He believes, however, that the advance of technology means talents such as his may one day become redundant.

“We make everything disappear,” he says, adding: “Look at your iPhone – the number of products it replaces, it’s extraordinary. Before, the size of a computer – it was a building, a suburban house, now it is embedded under the skin.”

The new Miss Dior chair is made entirely in aluminium, available in black chrome, pink copper or gold, while one of the three models rather whimsically has just one armrest.

The Miss Dior costs between €1,700 and €5,000.

“Chairs are an interesting exercise because they are very difficult, despite appearances... slightly easier than going to the moon but not far off,” Starck quipped.

I have an idea every 16 seconds
Philippe Starck

He wanted to ensure his new creation would last, so chose an “extremely solid, extremely technical material, a very ecological and totally recyclable aluminium”.

Starck is a keen advocate of ecological design, dreaming up electric bikes, intelligent thermostats and personal wind turbines among his many creations.

“Ecology, above all, is saying: I want to buy this, but do I need it? If you are honest with yourself, 80 per cent of the time you would say no,” he says.

It also means buying something “for always – it must last”.

A “Miss Dior” Medallion chair designed by French designer Philippe Starck for Dior is displayed as part of the “Dior by Starck” exhibition at the Salone del Mobile fair in Milan. Photo: AFP

Starck traces his pursuit of industrial minimalism to his father, who designed airplanes.

“To make a plane fly, it must be light, you have to remove everything that serves no use,” he says.

He adds: “All my life I’ve tried to find the centre of things, the sense of things, the soul of things.”

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He says concern for the environment can be met “by not producing” – but he is not giving up yet. “I have an idea every 16 seconds,” he says.

He justifies making something by asking “if the object is right, if it deserves to exist, if it was made with the minimum of material and energy, if it is accessible to the maximum number of people, if it brings ... happiness, laughter”.

If it also allows someone to “sit down, wash, eat, then in that case it is useful and I am proud of it”, he says.