The world renowned architect and designer Philippe Starck has blazed a subversive trail over the last five decades. The creator of some of the world’s most iconic hotels, restaurants and furniture, underlying Starck’s work is a belief in ‘democratic design’ – the idea that high quality, high concept objects are not just for the world’s wealthiest to enjoy.
At last week’s Milan furniture design fair, the 65 year old French creator announced his latest plan for a more democratised approach to how products are developed and manufactured. This summer, he will open a new store in Brazil’s largest city, Sao Paulo. Customers will be able to design their entirely personalised furniture in store, before sharing the design and having it 3D printed.
It connects to Starck’s involvement with TOG (AllCreatorsTOGether), a creative community of furniture designers, which also includes Sebastian Bergne, Nicola Rapetti and Dai Sugasawa. The group aims to involve the customer with the production of objects at the earliest stages of development, shifting the creative landscape and subverting how we perceive the manufacturer/ consumer relationship.
How Starck’s Sao Paulo store fits into this philosophy is pretty clear. The customer is involved from the beginning of the furniture’s creation, choosing exactly the pattern, material and colour for their piece. Once they have decided upon the version they like, it can either be printed by a manufacturer from the TOG network or taken home as a file and printed by the customer themselves.
The entire process is open sourced, so you can download an app to personalise and print your own furniture as much as you like. This opens the door for customers from every economic background and qualification level to take part in the creative process.
As Starck puts it:
The only trend that is acceptable is freedom, freedom to be different, freedom to choose what you want.