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‘Good design is democratic’

Global design legend Karim Rashid was in India to attend india design forum, country’s first major global design summit. He tells us what’s good design, and how it can help us build a better world.

fashion and trends Updated: Mar 16, 2012 02:23 IST

For Karim Rashid, everything from a passport to an aeroplane’s interiors must have some beauty to make you feel great about life. The New York-based design legend was in the Capital to attend India’s first major global design summit — India Design Forum, organised by The Coimbatore Centre for Contemporary Arts (CoCCA), last week. Dressed in a white shirt with pink stripes, white trousers, pink shoes, and tattoos on his arms, the half-Egyptian half-English designer cut a playfully inspiring picture as he sat down to talk to us about what he thinks is good design; his love for everything pink and what he expects from Indian design.

Good design in never elite
Ask him what’s good design and just like his designs, he gives you an almost poetic explanation: “There’s design in everything around you. Good design in always seamless. It’s something that’s, at times, not even noticed.” And design need not be elite, believes the designer. “A good design is democratic. It’s fantastic, and yet available to the majority,” he says. For Rashid, a great example of democratic design in India is Tata’s car Nano. “I always wanted to design a democratic car. The Nano is a fabulous democratic car,” says Rashid.

Create a better world
What irks Rashid is that almost 90% of the planet’s population lives in a poorly designed world. “Design often becomes an obstacle, although it’s meant to make life easier, and elevate the human experience,” he says. The outcome of living in a physical space that’s not exciting enough can mean people getting more and more lost in the virtual world, he says. “You would spend more time on the virtual world if the physical world doesn’t inspire and seduce you from the virtual space. The physical world needs to say we’re also progressive, we’re also evolving, just like the virtual space,” he says.

Designing is not styling
Another fact that upsets Rashid is that people don’t understand the difference between design and style. “When you revive the past, you’re styling and not designing; you are appropriating history. But design, on the other hand, is always contemporary and in connect with today’s world,” he says. Rashid hates replications of the past that are not in sync with the present times. “It doesn’t make sense to do a French bistro for a place that serves funky contemporary fare. Design must have relevance to the present time,” he insists.

Pink stands for positivity
The designer, who’s been telling the world that pink in the new black, says he loves the colour for its positivity and the high energy it exudes. “Pink has an incredibly positive effect on others too. When you wear pink, you’d notice how people around you would say something positive,” he says.

India must innovate
Rashid wonders why he can’t see a single Indian brand making it big globally. “I have designs from Italy and Germany in my room, but nothing from India, although it’s a country of endless possibilities. India has the capability to create a global brand, he says. “All you need is the right product and the right design that needs to be marketed rightly,” he adds.

All about Rashid
Karim Rashid is an internationally celebrated industrial designer based in New York. He has designed everything from garbage cans to hotels and has more than 300 awards and 3000 designs to his credit. His work has found space in the permanent collections of famous museums across the world, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and Centre Pompidou in Paris.

Rashid’s Tantalo bottle opener for Magppie won the Red Dot Best Design Award in 2007.