Just when I think I'm getting a handle on my world and the design culture in which I live, a person comes along who turns my thinking inside out and upside down. That person is Karim Rashid.
I attended Karim's lecture and philosophical oration at the final instarllment of the AIGA San Francisco's 2007 Design Lecture Series and went from dumbfounded to just plain feeling dumb. No really, at first I thought he was talking way over my head and that I couldn't relate to him whatsoever. But, after hearing how he thinks and seeing some astounding work he has done on the big screen behind him, I left the lecture feeling stimulated and inspired (and dumb). Also, I felt like a little person who could never attain the status and levels of reputation and design that he has. Do I really have to, though?
Many people say that Karim is "in the future" - Karim says that there really is no future, we are in it now and that designers are in that future. Our clients, audience, and public are in the past and we are the folks bringing them to the present/future. Does that make sense?
Anyway, his thoughts and ideas on so-called simple things, such as wine glasses in airplanes or doorhandles, stress the need for an experience - something that we all can have - in otherwise mundane, daily interactions. Design and functionality can be intertwined and all people can (and should) experience and appreciate the beauty of it.
Mr. Rashid also pointed out some very common things that we don't necessarily think about. He discussed the notion that most city buildings are colored in the gray and beige "Earth tones". That doesn't make sense, he muses, because the colors of the Earth are all spectrums of color and include many brilliant hues. Why do we choose to have the "Earth tones" of the cityscape in such a boring fashion? It causes me pause and a little angst.
Karim Rashid talked practically non-stop on an apparantly unrehearsed script for over an hour - and it was enthralling and thought-provoking. Many slides of his work and ideas were shown simultaneously (there is too much work to talk about on an individual basis). The crowd was pleased and I think mostly everyone left the theatre with some new ideas - and I'm sure many opinions.
Whatever we all do in this world of design, I think it would be a good thing to get a dose of Karim Rashid at some point in our careers. Sure, he may come across as a little arrogant, but really intelligent people sometimes do exude that sort of pretense - either on purpose or just because it's part of them. He's a smart man, brilliant designer, and a great addition to the creative profession. I just don't think I could ever have an intelligent conversation with him, though. I'm working on it - my mind and thinking are still being stretched right now.