Digital Renaissance

Karim Rashid

words by Marcello Taioli

Special guest lecturer at INDEX design exhibition of Dubai, successful product and interior designer, artist and dj Karim Rashid shows up in his iconic white outfit, a perfect balance between elegance and hi-tech.

Purveyor of a style he calls himself “sensual minimalism”, he has received over 300 awards, worked in over 40 countries and has his work in 20 permanent collections. Open minded, focused, concise but eloquent, Karim is definitely a man who loves his job.

When asked for a photo, he takes his smoked glasses off, smiles and welcomes us with a “ciao”.

After the seminar session, he stops at Talenti’s stand, sits on a Float armchair of his own design and releases a couple of interviews. Many are the Italian furniture brands he has designed for, ranging from Riva 1920 to Luca Boffi, Tonelli, B-Line, Cizeta, Bonaldo, Gufram, Casamania, Frighetto, Valdichienti, Della Rovere, Chateau d’Ax.

Rashid has conquered and improved on every aspect of the product design world. His expertise knows no boundaries, allowing him to deal with any type of material, whether it is experimental synthetic resin or timeless natural wood. From concept kitchens to cola bottles, smartphones and paper holders, lamps and rugs, Karim believes that his designs can enhance every aspect of life.

His touch expands beyond products to interiors at every scale, from the private residences to the towering mixed use buildings, from the retail shops to the public spaces, from the exhibition booths to the hotels and resorts.

We live in a very special time for humanity, where technology, through the digital revolution, has afforded us new tools to design better spaces in ways never before conceived. Our multidisciplinary studio reflects this digital renaissance, where all departments work together for a holistic final product, be it a hotel, a sofa, a pen or a logo. Diversity affords us the ability to cross-pollinate ideas, materials, behaviors, aesthetics and language from one typology to the next.

Among the latest interior design works bearing the signature of Karim’s Hell’s Kitchen studio: the Pegasus Hotel in Kuala Lumpur, the Karim Kado apartments in Riga, the Università Metro Station in Naples, the new branch office in Shenzhen, the Fun Factory sex shop in Munich.

For the Fun Factory store I was determined to create a retail environment filled with desire, emotion, and passion. Although the physical architecture of the existing building was difficult to soften, I succeeded in designing a sensual space. The fine line for me was to do something tasteful, not too literal and a bit abstract, since the objects they sell are so animated. The interior needed to be inviting and visually provocative.

FUN FACTORY Sex Shop, Munich

FIRST FLOOR PLAN

(showing new interior intervention in purple)

On the occasion of Venice Architecture Biennale, Karim has designed and presented Digital Nature, a conceptual living space produced in collaboration with Abet Laminati and De Rosso. The installation – fitted inside Palazzo Michiel on the Grand Canal – captures the essence of multisensorial living in our digital age.

Digital Nature depicts biomorphic geometry that straddles both the natural world and the constructs of mathematics. The patterns are a breath of life that has come from the universe, complex forms that are between the earth, the artificial, mistery and harmony. I want the space to have a pulse, to sing and come alive around you, so that visitors feel inspired and revitalized. People aren’t just looking at the space. They are physically immersing themselves inside of my concepts. Hopefully I am transcending Time, Space, and Existence, bringing people into another experience and inspiring them to live more progressively. It is exhibitions such as this that keep humanity positive and allow us to envision the future.

DIGITAL NATURE installation, Venice

PALAZZO MICHIEL on the Grand Canal, Venice

Digital Nature will be open until November 27th, 2016

If during the Renaissance nature is precluded from any supernatural meaning and becomes a “regnum hominis”, a pure environment where mankind lives free, in Karim’s vision nature transforms itself and hybridises with technology. Perspectives no longer follow a geometric vanishing point, but spread out into the hyperspace. Former citizen of the world, Rashid’s man becomes citizen of the cosmos, a universe where the spaces are blunt, the shapes are fluid, liquid, rounded and the atmospheres are antigravity so as to match a universal, multimedia man, a traveller of the digital space, a “hyper-trotter”.

I believe that we could be living in an entirely different world – continues Karim – one that is full of real contemporary inspiring objects, spaces, places, worlds, spirits and experiences. Design has been the cultural shaper of our world from the start. We have designed systems, cities, and commodities. We have addressed the world’s problems. Now design is not about solving problems, but about a rigorous beautification of our built environments. Design is about the betterment of our lives poetically, aesthetically, experientially, sensorially, and emotionally. My real desire is to see people live in the modus of our time, to participate in the contemporary world, and to release themselves from nostalgia, antiquated traditions, old rituals, kitsch and the meaningless. If human nature is to live in the past, to change the world is to change human nature.

photo © Bando E&C Co. Ltd.