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The World According to Karim
Karim Rashid is designing the Deutsche Bank VIP Lounge at the Art Cologne




Draft by Karim Rashid for Deutsche Bank's VIP-Lounge
at Art Cologne 2006
©Karim Rashid


Karim Rashid’s goal is to improve the world through brightness and comfort. And the designer knows enough to begin at home: "I am only interested in completely contemporary living. For example, I only wear micro-fibers. It’s all grey, silver, and white stuff, it’s smart," as he confided to the internet magazine designboom.com after donating every black article of clothing he owned to a charity auction in 2000. Since that time, he has only worn light colors. Whoever finds that too radical hasn’t perhaps come into contact with Rashid’s thoroughly styled world of design yet – or just didn’t know it until now. Probably everyone has thrown garbage into one of his designs at least once – because Rashid had his breakthrough with a garbage bin, a round trash can with an erect handle that he designed in plastic for the Canadian firm Umbra. He personalized it with the name Garbo and wound up with a huge hit. Since 1995, almost 10 million copies of the colorful bin have been sold at 12 dollars each. That made Umbra an internationally known brand, and Rashid a star and prophet for a new design philosophy called Blobism: the design of round and organic forms in brash pop colors.




Draft by Karim Rashid for Deutsche Bank's VIP-Lounge
at Art Cologne 2006
©Karim Rashid

Since that time, he has been designing everything from bags, mousepads, credit cards, ballpoint pens, and fabrics to "cyber-clothes" – indeed, everything to entire seating landscapes. For Alessi, he developed the watch Kaj; for Miyake the flask for Eau d’Issey; for Toshiba he designed a stereo system. Firms like Coca Cola, Estée Lauder , and Sony count among his clients. And as of late, Deutsche Bank does, too – even though the bank values the 46 year-old as an "artist designer." From November 1–5, the bank’s guests can become acquainted with Rashid’s fluorescent-colored, streamlined futurist world in the VIP Lounge at the coming Art Cologne.


Draft by Karim Rashid for Deutsche Bank's VIP-Lounge
at Art Cologne 2006
©Karim Rashid

It’s become one of the bank’s traditions to present pioneering design in the lounge; last year, in cooperation with Deutsche Bank Art, the renowned AD Magazine presented an extraordinary environment at the Cologne fair under the motto Living with Art. The living environment, designed especially by AD, created an unusual site of experimentation combining a show of international contemporary art from the Deutsche Bank Collection with examples of exclusive living culture. While last year works by Richard Prince, Rosemarie Trockel, and Richard Artschwager were juxtaposed with select pieces by various designers, this time the lounge will be transformed into a vision of Rashid’s.

Visitors to the lounge will find themselves in a sequence of silver-white, pink, and blue rooms steeped in an ambience of mirrored floors, organically flowing walls, and computer-generated net ornaments. And Rashid’s weakness for the Gesamtkunstwerk makes total sense. The son of Egyptian and British parents already knew at the age of four that he wanted to become a designer. And, as the Zurich paper Weltwoche has reported, he wanted to "touch everything, design everything." Maybe it runs in the family; his brother Hani is also a successful designer and architect who developed the virtual New York Stock Exchange, the American Pavilion for the 7th Architecture Biennial in Venice, and the Virtual Guggenheim project. On the other hand, Rashid has set out to become a lifestyle guru. In his recently published book Design Your Self, he offers readers tips on how to pack a suitcase properly, use color to accentuate a room, and carve free time out of a busy schedule. This product will sell splendidly too, of course – and the world will improve just a little bit more again, in accordance with Rashid’s ideas.