Philippe Starck, french designer, is one of my favorite designer/architects. We all know Starck‘s work. He’s globally famous and a household name, but when you list some of the items he’s created in the past like his watch, toothbrush, chair, shoes, even high-tech windmills… one comes to realize that it’s all fairly utilitarian, albiet with flair.
Whereas he works to establish “Democratic Design,” attainable everyday objects in a better way, Starck has been designing some ultra high-end super yachts as of late, such as his Giga Yacht ‘A’ for 39 year-old Russian billionaire, Andrey Melnichenko. The 394-foot, $350 Million “A” has become the most talked-about yacht on the seas.
With its radical shape—more sleek and stealthy warship than boxy pleasure boat—and reams of custom parts and finishes (including bath knobs costing $40,000 apiece), “A” is a conspicuous marker of an ocean-going plutocracy that’s largely been untouched by the recession.
Working with shipbuilder Feadship out of the Netherlands, Starck and team also worked to create a classic reinterpretation of sailings glory days – The Wedge Too. At 215 feet, the ship includes a complete owner’s deck, three VIP cabins, 4 guest rooms and facilities for 20 staff members.
“I am an environmentalist and a left winger: yachts are among the most daftest capitalist toys imaginable… I decided I might as well at least help the wealthy create something different: yachts that are not just a mountain of gold. So I designed something timeless and elegant…”
Indeed, Starck has hit upon success with a classic and a futuristic effort. Starck designed not only the ships and their hulls but also the entire interiors, where nearly every item and fitting — from sofas and chairs, to lights and textiles, to dinnerware and glassware — is a Starck design.
Let’s take a look first at “Wedge Too” and then “A.”
Click on images for large views
The Tenders (The smaller vessels carried aboard “A” and used as “limos” to ferry owner and guests to/from ship and shore)
I crave the designs of Philippe Starck and have many of his furnishings in my own home, and I salivate at these impressive private ships… But, it must be said that these examples represent the growing disparity between the classes throughout the world and most glaringly in the United States.
Fortunately Starck, a devout leftist, maintains a healthy realism in regard to such work: he has often remarked that the fees from such projects for the wealthy allow him to invest in and create the “Democratic Design” he truly desires be affordable (though certainly not cheap) for the mainstream citizen.