Design for the 99%, 1% of the Time

At the largest furniture fair in the world, industrial design icon Philippe Starck gushed about his philosophy of democratic design and its buoyancy during an economic undertoe. “People are intelligent. They want quality. They want a high level of creativity, but everyone will have less money,” he told the Boston Globe. Which is an excellent sentiment, but a peculiar one. Democratic design is all relative; while Michael Graves has been creating objects for Target that range a little more or less than $20 for the past several decades, Starck’s collaboration with Kartell is decidedly more pricey. His Louis Ghost chair easily fetches upwards of $400, and goodness knows you can’t properly set a table with just one.

The recently unveiled Miss Less chairs

He’s certainly doing quite well for himself, but is it due to his purported democritization of design as much as his station as an established designer who has the 1% knocking on his door? Living proof: that rumored Apple product he’s been working on turns out to be the family yacht for the Jobses. While we’re well aware that the cost of well-designed furniture easily reaches into the thousands, statement like this reveal a designer out of touch with the realities of furnishing a living space. When I see Subway ads for Starck for Target, then we’ll talk.

— Janelle Zara