A few months ago, prolific product design star Philippe Starck shocked the world with his proclamation ‘Design is Dead’, and the announcement of his pending retirement due to his frustration with the ethical/consumption issues inherent to product design:
While we completely understand the sentiment, we were a bit frustrated about this pessimistic proclamation and subsequent retirement from the world of design. One would think that the most helpful and sensible approach to the realization that one has been wasting one’s time producing useless crap (like uncomfortable see-through plastic chairs and scarily alien looking lemon-juicers that can’t actually be used) – would be to STOP producing useless crap and start putting one’s talent to use to try to make a positive difference in the world.
And despite the melodramatic announcement this spring, perhaps this is where Starck is headed after all, despite the threats of giving up entirely. Recently Philippe Starck has brought an amazing idea for renewable wind energy to life through a sleek new mini wind turbine called ‘Democratic Ecology’.
Philippe Starck’s personal invisible windmill ‘Democratic Ecology’ was introduced at Milan’s Greenergy Design show earlier this year in a vibrant display relaying the intent to enable every man, woman and child on Earth to generate their own power in designer style. The transparent mini-turbine will be available to all in September 2008 and, in typical Starck style, if everyone’s going to have one he’s going to make sure they all look great.
The turbine was on display in an twisted cube decorated with ecologically motivated statements, clearly designed to maximize the turbine’s aesthetic potential. Inhabitat was on the green scene in Milan, and can attest that the text and images looked fabulous viewed through the polycarbonate as it spun round. Presumably the transparency is a metaphor for the way Starck wants us to live: “Do we need so much materiality? The more materiality there is, the less humanity.”
The windmill can generate 20-60% of the energy needed to power a home, at a price point of around 400 Euros ($633). Not realistically within everyone’s budget, but by combining creativity and elegance with ecology Starck will hopefully encourage more people to take greener steps. And for those who don’t want their conservation pieces to be conversation pieces, a subtler version has been proposed.
The project was realized with the help of Pramac, a company better known for its petrol and diesel generator sets but one which has recently entered the renewable technology field. We can’t help but think that Starck’s latest design is a sign of his own transformation, marking the start of his new career as an advocate of sustainable design.