Philippe Starck adds a dash of his clever thinking to traditional Indian lifestyles in his latest project in Mumbai. BY SANHITA SINHA CHOWDHURY
He sits atop a dynasty built on creativity and intelligent design. His name works like the Midas touch in the realm ofinteriors. He can make a celebrity out ofa simple juicer, canonise the ‘ghost’ ofa chair, turn imagination into a weapon with a pistol-shaped lamp and ‘democratise’ mass produced objects at $150. Yet Philippe Starck who has often been christened as the ‘god ofdesign’ says that he disappoints. His latest interior project and what is rumoured to be one ofhis last, is a tie up between the Lodha Group and yoo inspired by Starck. The plum property is ensconced in Mumbai’s upcoming city centre, the New Cuffe Parade and surprises not just with its beauty, which is expected, but with the thoughtful manner in which it has been planned. “I don’t work like an architect or interior designer. I work like a movie director. I make a film where
people are the actors oftheir own life and I give them the best set to create a wonderful story, where people can be more inspired, more in love, more creative and more sparkling,” he states. Instead ofbeing awed by the grandeur ofthe architecture, he concentrates on the “beauty ofemotion” and puts the happiness of the to-be-residents first. He first visited India, 40 years back, as a hippie. “At that time, I was broke and the only asset I had was a solid pair ofMexican boots. When I ran out of money somebody recommended that I trade them in the flea market. But I didn’t find any buyers because the country then was too poor to afford footwear,” he recalls. He solemnly observes how both he and the country have evolved over the years and how India now has the money to splurge on `25 crore flats which he is designing. In a crowded space ofstarchitects, what sets this maverick apart is not the outlandish shaped chairs and gigantic lamps, but the sensible little things which makes one wonder why they hadn’t thought ofit—be it the blackboards which replace the laminate sheets on the cupboards in the kids room,
the hollow cylindrical tin left out to collect the morning paper without waking up the family or the floor plan separating the home office and TV room from the inner sanctum ofthe home. While underscoring his signature style with an Indian stamp, he didn’t go hunting for bling, colours or antiquated craftsmanship, but instead understood the lifestyle ofIndian families and made provisions for a large ladder to cater to our tendency to buy ration in bulk, built a kitchen with a slab ofgranite that is used in mortar and pestles and gave it a door to prevent the oil bearing fumes from entering the rest ofthe house. But while this 63-year-old is wooing the world with these decadent vertical villages, he prefers to lead the life ofa loner hiding far away from city life, in the middle ofnowhere. “I try to bring people together but that doesn’t mean that I live together. Creativity is a very strong thing. The life ofsomebody like me who creates a lot is like the life ofa monk. When you speak a lot, you can’t think, you cannot create. To think you have to be a loner, live by yourself, dig into yourself.