I’ve always loved French designer Emmanuelle Khanh, but also the creations of her husband Quasar.
There is actually an interesting connection not many people remember about between them and Ottavio and Rosita Missoni.
In 1964 Tai and Rosita went to Paris where they asked Emmanuelle Khanh (whom they had already met in New York) to do a collection together.
The French designer saw this opportunity as a chance to inject her fresh and young ideas into Missoni’s advanced knitwear and very gladly accepted it.
The results of this collection were presented in 1966 at the Gerolamo Theatre in Milan with a fun catwalk show.
Rather than sashaying down the runway models walked around the stage, drawing on a sort of transparent paper curtain behind which more models moved, undressed and dressed again before reappearing on the stage.
At the very last minute, Rosita realised the models’ underwear didn’t match with their futuristic and thin lame knits, so she sent the girls out without anything underneath, causing a little scandal (though the design duo had just anticipated in this way the “nude look”…).
The organisers decided therefore not to invite the couple at the next Pitti.
Yet this temporary ban allowed the husband and wife team to present the Spring/Summer collection with a special event organised in December at the Solari swimming pool in Milan.
The furniture pieces used for the occasion were designed by Quasar Khanh, who, clad in a futuristic tuxedo with silver lapels, greeted the audience from a gigantic floating house.
The show closed with a collective swim in the pool, led by a 25-year-old German model called Silvia, and it sort of marked Missoni’s success (after this event, Elle dedicated to the fashion house for the first time the cover of a following issue), but also the beginning of a new trend in fashion, catwalk shows turned into proper performance events.
What I found really interesting in this specific catwalk show was the connection between fashion and interior design.
This presentation was one of the very few in the history of fashion in which pieces of interior design were used during a fashion show.
Obviously in this case the pieces employed really fitted the atmosphere and the mood of the catwalk show, but it's strange that, in more recent years, there hasn't been such a fun and original interpretation of fashion and interior design.
One of the main reasons why interior designs is usually not incorporated into catwalk show is indeed the fact that pieces of furniture are static, while models walk down the runway at a fast pace.
This makes extremely tricky to combine interior design pieces and fashion creations.
The interior design/fashion connection also came to my mind while preparing an interview with Philippe Starck.
The French designer born in Paris in 1949, started creating inflatable furniture in 1968 and, the following year, he was appointed artistic director of the Pierre Cardin fashion house, designing for it also an interior design line.
So the main exercise for fashion design students for today would be to try and think about how to integrate fashion and interior design together in a fashion show.
In the meantime, to get further ideas and inspirations, you can read the following interview I did with Philippe Starck (or you can read it on Dazed Digital where you will also be able to find further images relating to the Starck-Dedon collaboration as all the images in this post regard the Missoni-Emmanuelle/Quasar Khanh collaborations).Playing with Philippe Starck
Philippe Starck talks to Dazed Digital about his latest project for Dedon, democratising design and a designer's role in contemporary society.
Try to find just one definition to describe Philippe Starck and you will probably spend an entire day without managing to come up with a proper answer. So far Starck has been an architect, interior, accessory and clothes designer, an eclectic citizen of the world and among the first supporters of the currently ever so trendy ethical and ecological lifestyle.
Starck presented last month at Milan’s International Furniture Fair a project he designed for Dedon, the producer of hand-woven indoor and outdoor furniture. “Play with Dedon” includes the lightweight and stackable “Play” chair-armchair, that can be redesigned to achieve a personal fit, ordered online or produced upon request, the tables “Bistro”, in porcelain ceramic and moulded polypropylene, and “Dining”, in mirror-finish aluminium, and the lamps “Superarchimoon Outdoor” and “Romeo 3 Outdoor”, developed in collaboration with Flos. The main concept behind this new collaboration is very simple: liberating design while creating pieces that can make people happy.
What prompted this collaboration with Dedon?
Philippe Starck: You are right to wonder ‘Why another chair?’ Well, it’s about love. To have beautiful children, parents must be in love. There is no successful project without strong human component. The only goal of a project must be the profit for people, the human dimension. To be successful you must wonder how a project can help our friends, our tribe, to have a better life. This project is about intelligence, generosity, respect, tenderness, visions, humour, love, poetry, it’s about all these immaterial parameters. I met Dedon founder and chairman Bobby Dekeyser through Nicolas Rapetti. Bobby created a complete universe, really modern and human. “Play with Dedon” reflects this as it combines the best technology, for the moulded polypropylene and fibreglass frame, added to the best craftsmanship for what regards the weaving. The manufacturing process is also based on ethical principles. The idea was to have a base, with or without armrest, and then play with it, so that people can be able to create their own item. I guess the most challenging part of this process was making sure the balance of technology and craftsmanship resulted in a good product. Other than that, the entire process was a real good journey, with everybody in the team working in the same direction to create a playful collection.
Freedom is at the core of your philosophy: do you feel that freedom has changed also our habits concerning interior design as companies trying to impose a product on consumers often failed, while the offer multiplied and consumers started making their own choices?
Philippe Starck: Freedom is the only style. That is why I never speak about beauty or beautiful products but “good products” that are not the ones marketed by very smart marketing departments of companies whose goal is to steal the money of what they call target consumers. Nowadays, we have to face so many challenges: economic, religious, political and also ecological, so it is not really a priority to care for beauty. The only way for us is to focus on an ethic and ecological behaviour, because we don’t have any further choices. Fifteen years ago, I developed the Good Goods Catalogue in collaboration with La Redoute, conceiving it as the catalogue of the non-products for the non-consumer of the future moral market. Hopefully, people will start understanding what they are offered and asking themselves ‘Do I need to buy this product?’ I think refusal is the first good act.
Can design be political?
Philippe Starck: I do not know why I design, somehow design chose me. But I think design is a very weak tool: a politician can change the world with one law, a journalist with one article, but what can you do with design? This is why I created object after object and place after place, trying to come up with something more than just design. There has always been a strong political statement in all my creations: from the Good Goods catalogue I already mentioned you to the mail order wooden house meant to show the terrible law in France that allowed construction companies to sell houses without architects under a certain cost, ruining in this way the landscape. Of course there is also the democratisation of design I started 30 years ago: I’ve always fought to give the best to people by striving to reduce the price while increasing quality. When I started working, the price of a designer chair hovered around the equivalent of 1,000 Euros, now you can find very good ones at less that 100 Euros. I recently continued along these lines with the personal wind-turbine “Democratic Ecology” and I’m currently developing Democratic Ecological Architecture to offer good affordable wooden houses.
Throughout your career you developed very different projects, from furniture to clothing and accessories: is there a product you would like to develop that may change and improve our lives?
Philippe Starck: I strictly have no desire to develop more products. Future is about dematerialisation. Dematerialisation is in fact one of my main focuses: you can see it in the Louis Ghost chair, in the elegance of minimalism in my watches, in the yacht I created. Ideally, I’d like to create useful things without using materiality as all materiality is vulgar. As far as interior design is concerned, everything will disappear slowly: curtains shall be replaced by liquid crystal windows, while the natural evolution regarding mankind will be bionism.
In your opinion, what’s a designer’s role in the current economic climate?
Philippe Starck: To serve and offer a better life to its tribe by being political and ecological.
A while back you launched the research consultancy The Key: has it proved a useful tool for Asian entrepreneurs?
Philippe Starck: The research consultancy was first started to teach Asian subcontractors to become creators and set up their own brands in order to stop being the slaves of the West. Success was quick to come, but the thing is that in the end, each client wanted to develop a Starck brand! The project was launched over ten years ago, I guess I was too early and now we have a lot of famous Asian brands.
What are you working on at the moment and what future projects do you have on your agenda?
Philippe Starck: To continue democratic ecology with solar boats and implement democratic ecological architecture with the first prototype that will be ready in early 2011. This week we are also opening the renovated Alhóndiga, an amazing centre for life and culture in the heart of Bilbao. We’re also working on a port in Palma and we’re opening the new Royal Monceau in Paris in a couple of months’ time.
The new spaces of the Alhóndiga de Bilbao designed by Philippe Starck opened on 20th May 2010.