Paris people

Philippe Starck's Wake-Up Call

he simply is himself, Philippe Starck. A phenomenon. A machine. An inventor.

A few months  ago, Starck, 61 years old but still displaying the aura of a shiny young boy, was standing in Paris on the stage of the private cinema of the famous Hotel Royal Monceau. He himself had just remodelled the building and he had done again what he knows best: he surprised.

It was just a press conference but Starck turned it into yet another performance. He talked about life, about poetry, he spoke without a script, as if he continuously invents whatever he’s doing, he was charming the audience he was reaching far: “I wanted to do something that wakes you up”, Starck said. “I want you to change your life once you quit this hotel.”

Nothing less. Yet if you listen to someone like Starck, when you’re confronted with his work, you feel ready to follow him instantly. Yes, why not reinventing yourself? Changing the codes like he’s doing it all the time? Starck claims that he wants to improve our lifes. Yet in fact, he wants to improve the life of the people belonging to his own tribe, the smart tribe, as he puts it, the people who are in the know. He’s the guru of those who are always on the go. Who have money, but no time. Who are exigent, but unable to put a nail in the wall. People like you and me?

After designing chairs and juice presses, whisky glasses and tea kettles, alarm clocks and couches, Starck is going bigger and bigger: Hotels, gated communities, properties, yachts, factories, windmills, trains – there seems to be nothing he hasn’t done yet. And each time, of course, he’s not just selling a design but is promising happiness.

Rich enough to despise money

Re-inventing the codes of luxury hostelry is not an easy task. But Starck has done it with elegance and imagination. He himself, who is travelling everyday in his private jet around the world, knows all about what the Hungarian thinker Georg Lukász once called the “transcendental homelessness”. How is he dealing with it? Starck replies: “My wife and me we are the queen and the king of room service. And we are enjoying everything: the hardest bed, the worst Club Sandwich!” In other words: they just love life, and living.

A life at ease, as everybody can imagine. How much money he makes? Starck answers with the elegance of the very rich: “I’m rich enough to despise money”, he says with a smile. In other words: He has too much to know exactly. Marianne magazine estimates his yearly earnings to exceed 20 million dollars a year, just a bit less than Karl Lagerfeld. He’s owning 12 houses or so around the world, 27 Aprilia motorbikes all with the same key – so he can use the same everywhere.

Too much Starck kills the Starck

To tell you the truth, there was a time when I couldn’t stand Starck anymore. He and his works were everywhere. No wedding without his juice press Juicy Salif on the gift shelf (It was, as you all know, only an object of social distinction. All people who have it I know used it only once. And after cleaning up the whole kitchen they never touched it again). His chairs were all over, many restaurants went Starck and he even gave toilets his final touch. Too much Starck killed the Starck, as the French say.

But with his redesign of Hotel Royal Monceau and his way to talk about it, Starck converted me. He converted me with his energy, his intelligence, his esprit. It’s true, he’s definitely neither a designer nor an architect. He’s more like a visionary, a prophet. He’s preaching happiness. And we just like to believe him. That does the trick.Photos:
Guru Starck on stage                 © Mad about Paris
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