March 27, 2017 by Laura Gomez


Karim Rashid is one of the most prolific designers of his generation. Over 3000 designs in production, over 300 awards and working in over 40 countries attest to Karim’s legend of design.

His award winning designs include luxury goods for Christofle, Veuve Clicquot, and Alessi, democratic products for Umbra, Bobble, and 3M, furniture for Bonaldo and Vondom, lighting for Artemide and Fabbian, high tech products for Asus and Samsung, surface design for Marburg and Abet Laminati, brand identity for Citibank and Sony Ericsson and packaging for Method, Paris Baguette, Kenzo and Hugo Boss.

Karim’s touch expands beyond product to interiors such as the Morimoto restaurant, Philadelphia; Semiramis hotel, Athens; nhow hotel, Berlin; Universita Metro Station, Naples as well as exhibition design for Deutsche Bank and Audi.

Karim’s work is featured in 20 permanent collections and he exhibits art in galleries world wide. Karim is a perennial winner of the Red Dot award, Chicago Athenaeum Good Design award, I. D. Magazine Annual Design Review, IDSA Industrial Design Excellence award.

Karim is a frequent guest lecturer at universities and conferences globally disseminating the importance of design in everyday life. He holds Honorary Doctorates from the OCAD, Toronto and Corcoran College of Art & Design, Washington. Karim has been featured in magazines and books including Time, Vogue, Esquire, GQ, Wallpaper, and countless more.

Karim’s latest monograph, XX (Design Media Publishing, 2015), features 400 pages of work selected from the last 20 years. Other books include From The Beginning, an oral history of Karim’s life and inspiration (Forma, 2014); Sketch, featuring 300 hand drawings (Frame Publishing, 2011); KarimSpace, featuring 36 of Karim’s interior designs (Rizzoli, 2009); Design Your Self, Karim’s guide to living (Harper Collins, 2006); Digipop, a digital exploration of computer graphics (Taschen, 2005); Compact Design Portfolio (Chronicle Books 2004); as well as two monographs, titled Evolution (Universe, 2004) and I Want to Change the World (Rizzoli, 2001).

In his spare time Karim’s pluralism flirts with art, fashion, and music and is determined to creatively touch every aspect of our physical and virtual landscape.


Industrial Designer Interview

Name: Karim Rashid

Age: 55

Birthday: Sept, 18th, 1960

College: Carlton University

Favorite Color: Pink

Favorite Book: The Transparency of Evil: Essays on Extreme Phenomena (Radical Thinkers) – Jean Baudrillard. I have been an avid fan of Baudrillard since I started teaching in the late 80’s. I loved the way he dissects contemporary culture and this my favorite book. The essays beautifully and seamlessly probe deep in the bowels of post- sixties orgies, hi and low art, deep culture to pop culture, and the socio-centric politics of Europe and the demise of communism. He was our 20th century Nietzsche. Who is the 21st?

Favorite Movie: The Man Who Fell to Earth with David Bowie

Favorite Food: For the last 20 years I eat almost only organic food. My favorite food is organic salads. When in New York I make them almost every day consisting of arugula, spinach, kale, carrots, avocado, tomatoes, red peppers, beans, red onion, beets, with either grilled organic chicken or tuna. Once a week I eat grass fed filet mignon. Also my favorite food and drink are definitely dark chocolate and dark roasted espresso coffee.

Favorite Quote: Designers don’t see the future. We see the present. It is just that everyone else sees the past.

What do industrial designers do?
Industrial Designers desing products that are industrially produced. But I am much broader than that. I work form micro to macro, form jewlery to buildigns, from high tehc products to interiors, from branding to packaging, and onward. Design has the power to shape a better, smarter world, to simplify yet inspire every individual, to make well-made and beautiful products accessible to all. Good design can shift and change human behavior and create new social conditions. I preach about how design shapes the future and culture.

What determined your passion for design? Tell us about the moment when you decided this is the way to go. I had accelerated high school so I was 16 when applying to university and was torn between architecture, fine art, and fashion. I originally applied to study architecture at Carleton which was much too late and the program was full. They told me they could accept me in the ‘architectural stream’ of Industrial Design. So I went to Carleton university expecting to study architecture, but fate had it, that the second I took some industrial design courses I knew that that it is what I wanted to do. I assumed that one had to be an architect to design a chair or coffee machine or a product. I loved the Italian product design landscape and all those products that I admired for years that were in our house were designed by architects. In fact Italy did not have an industrial design school until 1984. The Carleton program was only in its second year so in turn, and not enough faculty or courses in industrial design, so the greatest experience I had was to study engineering, architecture, philosophy, languages, and have such a broad diversity of courses.

Were you always interested in design? I don’t think I became a designer, I think I always was a designer. I realized my life’s mission at the age of 5 in London. I went sketching with my father in England drawing churches. He taught me to see – he taught me perspective at that age – he taught me that I could design anything and touch all aspects of our physical landscape. I remember drawing a cathedral facade and deciding I did not like the shape of the gothic windows so I redesigned them. I drew them as ovals. I also remember winning a drawing competition for children – I drew luggage (my own ideas of how to travel).

What has been your key (or keys) to success? Talent, hard work, perseverance, and consistency is the way to succeed. I have always been driven to create and speak about design and the world we live in. In fact I think it happened because I am so passionate and this comes through in my writing, my interviews, my lectures, my press conferences and my projects. I’m contributing as much as I can while I am on this planet. I have learned that many designers do a great deal of work but it remains in concept form only because the key to putting designs on the market is to make sure it is a collaboration. If you work closely with a client and understand their needs you can be much more productive. I have had too many failures and have learned that design is a collaboration between one brand and my brand and one must listen, and work within that culture or nothing will go to market or get built. Design is for people, not for museums. The highlight now is to see that 530,000 people on Facebook like me because I always saw design as a populist act, not an elitist act.

Do you suffer for your art? I think dissatisfaction leads to creativity. But not suffering. I believe that sadness is an old cliché of the suffering artist and I don’t believe an artist needs to be sad depressed, starving, or otherwise to be creative in fact an artist can be in a positive happy environment and be far more creative. I am constantly looking at the world around me and critiquing objects, seeing how they could be redesigned. I am motivated by my desire to beautify the world through design. Design is about progress, about moving us forward, about challenging and elevating the human spirit. We should be conscious and sensorially attune with this world in this moment.

Do you have any rules? I don’t have any rules. But I think it is constraints that create the most creativity. I cannot create in a vacuum. I always believed that constraints or problems should be viewed as opportunities. I am most creative with the greatest amount of constraints. I have become an expert at working to meet and even supersede clients expectations within their constraints. It is a myth that designers have an idea and a company produces it, the real work is this collaborative merging of minds, vision, and ideology.