Philippe Starck – “I hate laziness. We are, before everything else, workers”

Iconoclastic French designer Philippe Starck delivered the D&AD President’s Lecture this week, with a talk covering dreams, the pursuit of happiness and the very meaning of life.

Starck delivered an address that was part self-help session, part stand-up comedy. We pick out some of his choicest quotes.


Philippe StarckOn understanding

When you are born, you sign a contract – this is a contract to be part of the beautiful story of us.

The first piece of work you have to do is understanding. We are in a society where everything is prefabricated – we are becoming more and more lazy. The thing is to try to understand.

All around us there are incredible things: waves, reflections – if you don’t make an effort to understand them you can’t be part of the story of evolution.

The only reason to exist is to understand how we can be part of this story and how we can help our friends and family.

That is why I hate laziness. We are, before everything else, workers.

On youth

Everyone speaks about youth as a beautiful time of life – it’s not true. Youth is the time where you have to be terrified and lost and sad. People who enjoyed their youth will never make anything because they live in the past.

I’m not intelligent – I’m on this stage now because I was obliged to find a way to escape.

If you have children, make sure they aren’t happy. The search for happiness is the most stupid thing – we are not here to be happy; we are here to work and to create.

Juicy Salif, by Philippe Starck

On dreams

At night, when I turn out my light, I say: “Now I go to work!”. When I sleep, I dream. But these are not regular dreams. I start to fly in territories I don’t know.

When I have ideas in the daytime, perhaps it is because of these dreams.

Work on your dreams, prepare your dreams and always have an open subconscious. Help your dreams to help your creativity.

On “over-living”

I didn’t start creating for pleasure, I started because I was obliged to. It’s like the film about the invisible man who only becomes visible when he wears stripes of fabric. I had to create those stripes to become visible.

Now, I have run so hard just to exist that I over-exist. Everything around me is so intense because I started from nothing.

On being an imposter

We are in a society where a guy who makes a toothbrush, or a boat or a pair of glasses is called a genius. It’s ridiculous – you feel like an imposter.

We have to reconsider the value of genius and we have to bring real geniuses to the stage and reject the fake geniuses like me.

Kartell chair, by Philippe Starck
Kartell chair, by Philippe Starck

On forgiveness

I refuse forgiveness. You have to think twice before you make anything. Anyone who makes something good should be rewarded – but anyone who makes something bad should have to pay.

On having a vision

From your vision you build your ethics. From ethics you build the concept and from concept you build products. If at the end the stupid toothbrush is related to the highest vision then it deserves to exist.

On art

Art hides the real thing, which is creativity – anyone can say: “I am an artist.”

On science

Science is the most beautiful symptom of humanity. The way scientists think is beautiful – it’s poetry.

Philippe Starck
LaCie hard drive, by Philippe Starck

On sustainability

There is no solution to create the amount of energy we need – the only solution is to cut our use. But how can we cut our use when we are structurally creative and positive people?

On marketing

I still don’t know the meaning of the word marketing. The only marketing I believe you need is your nose. If you have a vision and you are honest then your nose is enough – you can’t make a mistake.

If you want to get money from the pockets of “target consumers” then you will need marketing. But if you are making things for people you love then all you need is your nose.

Starck Eyes poster, by GBH
Starck Eyes poster, by GBH

On GBH [whose partner, D&AD president Mark Bonner, asked Starck to deliver the talk]

We speak by mail ten times a day, every day. We have an intense relationship. GBH is like my graphic wife.

Hide Comments (4)Show Comments (4)
  • Handy Jay September 23, 2015 at 10:30 am

    What an uneducated, morbid autocratic ideology. Mr Starck, please get with the real world and try not to pretend too much that you’re Iron Man.

  • Mark Bonner September 23, 2015 at 3:21 pm

    I’d work more and comment less if I were you Mr Jay.

  • Kamaljit Singh September 24, 2015 at 1:12 pm

    Interesting- I’m not sure if he is on about life or design! But you have to forgive to go forward in life, I don’t agree with not forgiving, how does one learn then if they are not forgiven. Youth, is meant to be happy or else the rest would
    Be miserable!

  • Ana Kiss September 27, 2015 at 5:27 pm

    Where’s the like button when you need it. +1 for Handy Jay’s comment.

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