Born to English – Egyptian parents in Egypt in 1960 and raised in Canada, Karim Rashid is the third famous kid out of three siblings. Rashid has several noble titles attached to his name, such as “the king of plastic”, “popstar among designers” and “designer of the future”. Rashid has successfully designed over four thousand products and is actively designing homes and interior spaces for buildings from his New York office. From bank card designs to dish wash soap bottles to wallpapers, Rashid has laid his democratically artistic hands designing products for over forty countries. Rashid has changed the destiny of some few while giving new life to their products. Rashid’s style is termed “sensual minimalism” and has modified some of the most conventional objects and products into contemporary commodities. Rashid strongly believes that design is the future.

“What is left if you take the design away?” – Karim Rashid 

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Karim Rashid_©Yasmina Rasamny

Life

Self-realizing the power of design at the age of five, Rashid has now won over 300 international awards for furniture, product, lighting and interior designs. Drawing as a hobby and means of exploring has been his foremost pursuit since childhood. Rashid’s father was an abstract artist who inspired him to draw more to express himself rather than using words. Rashid graduated with a degree in Industrial Design in 1982 from Ontario, Canada. Later, he stayed in Milan, Italy, for a year to pursue graduate design studies. Rashid made sure to get adequate exposure for his ideas and also learn from the established designers. Rashid has associated with Ettore Sottsass, Rodolfo Bonetto and Marco Nussbaum for diverse projects. Rashid decidedly learnt from each of them and worked hard to foster their design ideals in his design, only to create wonders. For example, Rashid learnt to design empathetically towards human needs from architect Sottsass. Later, Rashid started to employ colours in his design that would actuate the emotions in the receiver of designs. For example, Rashid uses the colour pink a lot as he believes that pink colour gives a sense of belongingness and brings peace to mind. Owing to his love for pink, Rashid was called “the pink designer” by Lines Hub magazine. Rashid usually dresses up in white or pink. One of Rashid’s famous responses to an interviewer who enquires about his recurring use of pink in his products is, “Men all over the world are not into pink. I guess I’m the pioneer in it.” 

Rashid’s unvaried use of pink colour in his furniture designs is shown in the pictures below. 

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Zag Bookcase by Karim Rashid_©karimrashid.com
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Kandor Chair by Karim Rashid_©karimrashid.com

Today, Rashid’s products have made a permanent place in twenty internal exhibitions. 

Philosophy

The future inspires Rashid’s designs. Rashid strongly believes that there could be a better world, one designed with positive energies that could connect to people emotionally and yet represent technological advancements. Rashid explains that design should no longer be perceived as problem-solving but as beautifying built environments. Rashid dreams that every human being contributes to contemporary living and is true to the changing times letting go of the old traditions and rituals that might not be purposeful in the current times. Rashid says, “If human nature is to live in the past – to change the world is to change human nature.” 

Rashid’s design philosophies are coined in three terms. One is democratic design, meaning a design that will convince and suit every person. Second is creating icons, meaning the product must touch every person’s soul and should speak for the brand it belongs to. The third is capabilities, meaning perceiving the client’s expectations holistically. 

Important Architecture and Interior Design Works

Matisse Beach Club, Australia – Right from the dining chairs to the bold wall colours, the whole setup flows like poetry. With a modern design and contemporary setting, the beach club is a perfect picture frame. 

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Beach Club indoor area design_©karimrashid.com

Semiramis Hotel, Athens – A 52-room boutique hotel that shouts of Rashid’s design philosophy in each corner. Rashid was involved in designing every minute detail, from shampoo bottles to the bar area. The interiors and exteriors are a blending play of bright colours and signature pinks. The lobby area of the hotel in the picture also has a rotating art collection display. 

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Beach Club indoor area design_©karimrashid.com

Kismet, US – A hotel concept released in 2019. This project is the ambassador of future design. Also, the design serves the purpose of connecting to individuals emotionally. 

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Kismet Hotel, US_©karimrashid.com

Kollekte, US – A multipurpose building concept housing condos, hotels, offices, spas and retail. Sensitive to the context and the requirements of the client, this building’s façade is an eye-catcher yet subtle. 

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Facade of Kollekte, US_©karimrashid.com

NHOW Hotel, Berlin – This hotel brings Berlin to the map of the hippest hotels. Built in 2010, this hotel bridges the spirituality and calmness of the east and the modernness of West Berlin. The hotel is one of the smart hotel chains and Rashid uses the best technology flowing with exemplary designs in each corner of the hotel. The vibrant colours and textures produce sensual diversity in the physical world. 

Dining Area of NHOW Hotel, Berlin_©Architizer

References

  1. Online sources

Rasamny, Y. (2021). “What is left if you take the design away?” – Interview with Karim Rashid. [online]. Available at: https://designwanted.com/interview-karim-rashid/ [Accessed date: 17/09/2022].

Abdelbary, M. (2022). Karim Rashid: The Pink Designer. [online]. Available at: 

https://lines-hub.com/karim-rashid-the-pink-designer/ [Accessed date: 17/09/2022].

Rashid, K. (2022). Overview. [online]. Available at: http://www.karimrashid.com/downloads/presspak/KarimRashid_Overview.pdf [Accessed date: 17/09/2022].

Knott, O. Matisse Beach Club Australia. [online]. Available at: https://trends.archiexpo.com/vondom/project-58370-234375.html [Accessed date: 17/09/2022].

Architizer. (2010). NHOW Hotel Berlin. [online]. Available at: https://architizer.com/projects/nhow-hotel-berlin/ [Accessed date: 17/09/2022].

  1. Images/visual mediums

Rasamny, Y. (2021). “What is left if you take the design away?” – Interview with Karim Rashid. [Photograph].

Brabbu. (2016). Famous Interior Designers: Karim Rashid Design Projects. [Photograph].

Senatus. (2022). Semiramis Hotel by Karim Rashid. [Photograph].

Rashid, K. Projects. [Photograph].

Architizer. (2010). NHOW Hotel Berlin. [Photograph].

Author

Shikha is an urban planner whose work is focused on climate responsive planning and ecosystems in neighbourhood planning. She has a keen interest in comprehending human connections in city spaces through ways of engaging with the community. Her passion for books, travelling, fiction and research writing keeps her motivated.

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