ICFF Designers: Karim Rashid

The iconic designer talks about recent work and shares insights about his design process and inspirations.

This week, PSFK will be interviewing a variety of designers — both established and up-and coming, to give a preview of what to look forward to at this year’s International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF), taking place this Friday through Monday in New York. This year, the majority of designers will be displaying their work at the Jacob K. Javits center, and we’ve asked them to give us some insights into what they will be displaying, their design process, where to find them in the center, and which booths they’ll be checking out in their free time.

We asked Karim Rashid to share some thoughts and images about his work and the work of others with us.

What are you preparing to show at this year’s ICFF?

I am showing 20 pieces never before seen in the US, from 11 different clients as an homage to 2011 and that I LOVE NY. I don’t want to give the whole show away, but I’m particularly excited about the collection designed for B-Line. I really respect B-Line as a company and the beautiful products they’ve produced for Rodolfo Bonetto (whom I worked for in Milano in 1984) and Joe Colombo. I think the Cross Lamp I designed for Freedom of Creation is unlike anything you’ve seen from me before, and my Highroller chair from Punkalive is a really interesting piece due to its sustainably. The special finish wood comes form a forest and the chair is made right at the forest factory. Everything selected for the show is from my various clients around the world.

How would you briefly describe your design process?

I think, observe, and sketch profusely. I frequently design when I’m traveling, as the plane offers the perfect escape from distraction and any outside influences. I’m inspired by every new city, site, sound, and experience, so the development of new ideas comes fluidly to me. Technology, organic shapes, emotive color, and stimulating surfaces influence the form my design takes, as I want everything to be sensual, intuitive, immersive, and beautiful. I fill sketch books weekly, and then I bring my designs back to the studio. My team creates 3D renders of my ideas, does research with me on materials, production processes, and then we refine the concepts based on all the plethora of criteria, be it social , economic, or technological issues until my vision is realized.

Have any recent design trends influenced your current work?

I don’t follow trends; I design using contemporary criteria and in turn, shape the future. Too many trends are just evocations or derivations from vaults of the past, nostalgia, or arbitrary embellishment. I am interested in developing products that are accessible to everyone and I believe design is democratic. Good design can also shift and change human behavior and create new social conditions. Design has evolved based on a plethora of complex criteria – human experience; social, global, economic and political issues; physical and mental interaction, form, vision, and a rigorous understanding of contemporary culture. However, manufacturing is based on another collective group of criteria: capital investment, market share, production ease, dissemination, growth, distribution, maintenance and service, performance, quality, ecological issues and sustainability. The combination of all of these components has come to shape our interiors, inform our aesthetic, our physical culture, and our human experiences.Who is the one designer whose work you will definitely be checking out at the show?I’m excited to attend the Fluorescent Ball for Mad Museum. They will display beautiful work by Kenzo Minami, Jeff Muhs, Bliss Lau.

Do you feel the ICFF show is evolving in a way which keeps pace with the design industry?

It is difficult going to the ICFF right after the Milan Salone. Everyone always complains about the ICFF and that it is nothing like the Saloni Milano but NY was never a design city, it was an art city and a commerce city. But I blame the press because Saloni grew in 50 years due to media. Our media here barley mention the ICFF. When they do, they show a few craft-like sophomoric projects, and not ‘real’ design. The whole world covers the saloni one month prior and for the whole year following! So I am doing 3 shows as my contribution to ICFF awareness and help nurture its’ energy. Ironically all the best work and best events are European. There is never the same energy and effort put forth by the Americans (with the exception of Dune).

Where will you be exhibiting during this year’s ICFF?

My solo exhibit is taking place at the duplex studio of the Chelsea Modern. We’ll open the exhibition for the four days of the ICFF with a cocktail reception on Sunday, May 15th with DJ & Cocktails. Im also speaking at Artemide’s Designer Talk on the 14thand having a cocktail event to celebrate new work with Christofle on the 17th. I look forward to it all :)With my Globalove to the ICFF!

Thanks, Karim!

Karim Rashid

As the culmination of all our ICFF coverage, PSFK will be hosting a Salon on the Future of Design featuring the editors of top design websites. The event will take place this Friday the 13th from 8:30 to 11am at Soho House.

Click here for details.

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