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Updated October 13, 2020

Karim Rashid Biography and Work

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Karim Rashid Biography and Work essay
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Karim Rashid as Designer

Karim Rashid is a 59-year-old successful industrial designer who was born in Cairo, Egypt, but raised in Canada. He went to Carleton University in Ottawa, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Industrial design in1982. Almost immediately, he joined the graduate school in Italy. In the design world, Karim is known as the man who has designed everything. His designs focus on a wide array of products ranging from luxury products, lighting, surface designs, brand identity, and packaging. Currently, Kareem has over 3,000 plans to his name in all of the fields mentioned above (Scott n.p).

Additionally, there are over 300 awards that he has won for his exemplary contribution to the design world. There is no other designer that has successfully worked for most of the famously successful companies as Karim. Sone of the companies that have seen the success of his designs include Samsung, Asus, Sony Ericsson, Alessi, and various hotels across the world. The man is currently based in New York, where he engages in private practice, spending most of the time in his private art studio. Kareem’s achievement list is not about to dwindle as fourteen museums all over the world stock some of his work permanently.

He is also quite a controversial designer due to his criticism of almost everything, including cups. Karim also delivers guest lectures in institutions of higher learning all over the globe in the area of industrial design. He has also worked as an associate professor at the Rhode Island Institute of design. The approach that Karim adopts in design is holistic. The implication of this is that the sum of the parts of the items under the model is more beautiful than the individual sections. Karim believes that a well-designed object not only adds beauty to the place or the thing designed but also those who use the subject of design. Therefore, it is tough to find any of Kareem’s designs with a fault in one component, like lighting. He believes in incorporating all the aspects to bring in one excellent final product.

Kareem Rashid design perspective

Just as his design approach, Kareem believes that design is all about working with modern standards to form the future of people’s experiences (Scott n.p). The general perspective is that a designer has to understand the needs of the people for whom they design before beginning to develop any designs. Designers must have keen attention to detail. Kareem notes that he has a high sensitivity to people’s movements, which is a quality that makes him a better designer who continually innovates.

As a result, the designs that Kareem creates are always innovative. This goes hand in hand with his belief that to be successful in the design world. One has to innovate continuously. Otherwise, they will soon become obsolete for the market. Kareem also believes that designers have the power to create anything. They have to be critical thinkers and willing to take the extra mile. It is this line of thought that has led Karim to re-design even the smallest aspects of life, such as baby bottles.

Another one of his design perspectives is that there ought to be no distinction between high and low design. All designs should culminate to reflect the innovativeness and commitment of the designer to make the user most comfortable and beautiful in that designed space or element. Thus, it should not make a difference whether a designer is doing it for mass markets or small scale markets; they should always be at ease and aim to give the best. Perhaps one of the unique perspectives about Rashid is the way he interprets trends. In the design world, trends are always a thing.

However, Karim believes that if something is a trend, it is over, and people ought to be looking elsewhere. According to him, the design is about focusing on the future. There is no better way to focus on the future than to analyze and appropriate the past to help the designers in shaping future cultural and physical landscapes. Focusing on trends is more of stagnating the endless possibilities of the design world. Karim is also of the perspective that design is not all about forming shapes and drawings. He indicates that it is a collaboration of social, political, and economic life. Thus, modern-day designers should not make the mistake of ignoring design school in the name of having plenty of irrelevant courses such as marketing and sociology. They all culminate in the development of a successful designer.

Design Experience

As earlier mentioned, Rashid has created thousands of designs. Therefore, there is no doubt that he has quite a vast level of experience when it comes to the design world. It is not possible to outline all of his works in this paper. The focus will be on his first interior design project in a hotel in New York, which was at the Nooch Noodle Bar in Philadelphia. In 2004, he created this restaurant whose entire front comprises of a glass façade. The fascinating thing about this design is that the glass is foggy right at the top and at the bottom, making it clear in the middle.

The restaurant is neon green at night, which brings in the atmosphere of another world. This goes to show that Karim understands the client’s needs (importance of ambiance for a better dining experience). Since the restaurant is prone to noise from the surrounding streets, so the design takes care of this by implementing constant dance music as part of the hotel interior design (Huppatz n.p). Rashid designed the chairs to adopt a lime green color and translucent plastic benches all around. The restaurant also has a striking blue, pink, and green noodle mural on one side of the wall depicting Rashid’s ability to explore virtual space.

Rashid considers the Garbo waste can design in 1995 as his greatest success in his career spanning over three decades. He states that this is the project which proved to him that the market is ready for design but at prices affordable to the ordinary citizen. Despite the project being one of his greatest successes, Karim states that it posed quite a significant challenge as the focus groups denied production for quite a while. The argument was that the product was too radical, and perhaps the market was not ready for it.

Architecture VS Industrial Design

The question of architecture versus industrial design is quite complicated. Even the architects themselves find it hard to quantify the differences. However, industrial designers tend to understand more the differences in these fields. The two areas have several similarities in that the practitioners need to envisage, draw, extract, shape models, drafts, and exercise critical thinking. The differences are a bit hard to explain as they are intangible. Below is an attempt at explaining the imminent but hidden differences. One of the differences lies in the project iteration. The projects that architects undertake are usually for the long term. The reason for this is the complexity of these projects. They take years to execute.

On the other hand, industrial designers usually enjoy the privilege of short-lived projects. These projects typically take months to market, and they move very quickly. They, therefore, have the opportunity to come up with more plans in their lifetime than architects can. The advantage here is that industrial designers can then gain extensive experience and become experts in the field as opposed to what architects can gain. Too often, the industry will have old industrial designers who are also young architects, which is the case of Karim Rashid due to this difference.

The other difference between the two fields is the outlook. Both areas tend to analyze the design process and end product from diverse perspectives. Industrial designers tend to have a significant objective of having a beautiful end product. They, therefore, focus more on the form rather than the functionality of the element under design. They also look at the target market to determine where their wants at that particular time lie. Resultantly, there is quite little that they use to act as the driving force of design.

The field of architecture, on the other hand, tends to have an intellectual starting point for every model. Thus, it is easier to develop the building’s narrative. It is almost as If the building designs itself in this case since there is a criterion for evaluating the design decisions. With these differences in mind, it is imperative to note that these two fields interlock. The industrial design needs architecture and vice versa. There is no element here that could work alone to create a masterpiece.

Designing the future: Society’s perspective VS Karim Creativity (critical)

So often, Karim has come under fire for his analytical approach towards everything. Some articles have even mentioned that Karim finds fault in everything that he sets his eyes on. Some people in society believe that he is egoistic and attempts to attract attention out of the controversial stances that he takes on various designs. How true is this? Does it mean that Karim is merely an attention seeker? The first thing while addressing these questions is to acknowledge that people generally hate change. It is uncomfortable and takes them out of their comfort zones. Therefore, it is doubtful that the greater society would accept the changes that Karim brings into perspective.

It is essential to recognize that Karim takes on a design approach that emphasizes on the importance of innovation. Karim does not believe in the utilization of trends as part of the design, which is one major point of conflict with society in general. Some think that in living for the moment. This is not the best approach to having an innovative and quite developed future. Having society criticize his design approach is killing the industry altogether. For the design world to exist, there have to be people who have to question the existence of a different phenomenon continually. Being comfortable with the status quo only leads to stagnation, which kills creativity and design. Karim also came under fire from writing his book, ‘I want to change the world’ (The Guardian n.p). The title in itself is a product of industrial design. It is quite catchy and a particular product of a creative genius mind.
Additionally, the fact that it attracted many critics proves this. It is quite hard to understand why such an interesting book would be the subject of so much criticism. Karim’s designs are a game-changer in the industrial design field.

What’s more interesting is the fact that fellow industrial designers are on the front line to criticize and have a negative view of the designs. It depicts the kind of societal perspective that we have in terms of accepting growth and difference from the norm is concerned. Instead of seizing the opportunity for growth from such a successful industrial designer, the first automatic measure is criticism. Opponents of Karim’s design perspectives and approaches may argue that the criticism is also created on the part of the critics. They identify various elements in his plans and then disagree with it, illustrating their ability to exercise critical thinking.

Nevertheless, these critics should try and do something more original rather than offering negative criticism all the time. It is high time that designers understood that they could not be successful without implementing the critical approach that Karim utilizes. However, they should adopt positive criticism, such as Karim’s, which leads to the development of better products.

Projects examples: The connection between art and design

Both art and design are in such a way that they communicate and remain interrelated to one another despite their different ideas. The similarity between these two concepts is that they require a particular medium to manifest themselves. They cannot remain innate and become art or design.

The person with the idea has to let it out on a medium or platform that showcases it to the world. Karim states that art reflects life, and it is selfish (Art Premium n.p). This is quite true as art expresses the inner feelings and thoughts of humans. Everyone has a different form of art within themselves. Design, on the other hand, is a collaboration of social, political, and economic acts making it less selfish and more democratic. It lets in ideas from separate quarters before the designer can manifest it through a medium.

While art depends solely on creativity, it is impossible to design from the point of creativity alone. The essential thing in these two aspects is to allow architecture to be designed appropriately and also have the best designs to keep art in mind.

Shaping the culture and creating a different experience

Culture comprises the norms and behaviors common to particular people. The design that people learn to create can become their culture. For instance, traditionally, some communities lived in mud houses. That was the design then and was part of their culture. However, religion has a way of evolving. Karim states that the driving factors for designers should be the need to produce and disseminate beauty (Art Premium n.p). That way, they can develop a culture of continually creating. The world has not yet reached this stage of adopting design as part of our culture, but the day is coming when this is all the society will be about.

Color

Color brings in the vibrancy that is required for a design component. The digital world especially is more visual and requires popular colors, consequently emanating a sense of vitality. Karim indicates that it is ridiculous for people to have favorite colors with the variety around (Tran n.p). Thus, the designer should not be rigid and focus on one color. They should think about the intention of the design. What are they trying to communicate? Through this, they can develop a wide array of vibrant colors for various models that interact beautifully.

Kareem unique principle of design

Karim indicates that he is interested in creating a ‘rapture of experience.’ This means that his intentions lie within bringing in a breath of fresh air into the design world. The focus should be on cutting wastes where designs that formerly failed to work are scraped off and replaced by more efficient ones. The plans that he creates aim at elevating people to higher levels of luxurious experiences, performance, and utility.

Design Dialect

There is the issue of Kitsch and art. Kitsch is the concept of common but popular elements in society. These are usually a result of inauthenticity in design and the lack of creativity. Karim distances himself from this type of dialect. Instead, he indicates that there is a need to develop authenticity when it comes to art (Buding et al. n.p). The lack of this is detrimental to the advancement of the design world.

Technology and good design

Proper design in the current world has to take heed of technological advancements. The best designers recognize the opportunity to create masterpieces and make their work more accessible through the use of technology such as rapid prototyping, parametric software, interface design, user experience design, biodegradable, and technological materials (Denman n.p). Technology also ensures that the market is full of new elements every time. This is a tool that industrial designers need to hold close as it can disrupt the entire industry.

Works Cited

  • Art Premium. “Karim Rashid: Designing the Future.” 2016. Retrieved from https://www.artpremium.com/karim-rashid-designing-the-future/
  • Buding, J., Rosenberg, z. And Syrkett, A. “Karim Rashid wants you to realize how poorly designed everything you own is.” 2016. Available at: https://www.curbed.com/2016/9/15/12916918/karim-rashid-interview-podcast [Accessed 27 Nov. 2019]
  • Denman, Selina. “Karim Rashid: ‘Technology makes good design accessible.” 2011. Retrieved from https://www.thenational.ae/lifestyle/home/karim-rashid-technology-makes-good-design-accessible-1.402672
  • Huppatz, D. “Karim Rashid: Nooch, Kurve.” Djhuppatz.blogspot.com. 2003. Available at: https://djhuppatz.blogspot.com/2009/09/karim-rashid-nooch-kurve.html [Accessed 27 Nov. 2019].
  • Scott, v. “Karim Rashid: Reshaping Culture One Design at a Time.” 2018. Retrieved from https://dolcemag.com/celebrity/karim-rashid-designer-home/31263
  • Tran, Long. “Not Afraid of Color, Interview with Karim Rashid.” 2011. Retrieved from https://www.yankodesign.com/2011/04/04/not-afraid-of-color-interview-with-karim-rashid/

Karim Rashid Biography and Work essay

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