3 Indispensable Design Lessons from Karim Rashid

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Karim Rashid is undoubtedly one of the most prolific designers of his generation. His resume includes 3,000 designs in production, more than 300 awards, seven published books and more than 100 global exhibitions of his work. Plus, he has worked in more than 40 countries and counting.


We recently examined this impressive body of work to get to the heart of what makes Rashid so universally embraced. Three themes emerged:

1. Design principles transcend disciplines.

Rashid’s touch expands beyond products to interiors such as the Morimoto restaurant in Philadelphia, the Semiramis hotel in Athens and the nhow hotel in Berlin, as well as exhibition design for Deutsche Bank and Audi. In addition, he’s done brand identity for Citibank and Sony Ericsson, and packaging for Method, Paris Baguette, Kenzo and Hugo Boss.

Rashid picked up on the idea that good design is good design, no matter the medium, long before his rise to stardom. In a recent New York Post article, he shares: “I remember being 13 or 14 and looking at a book of Le Corbusier and thinking what an amazing architect he was, but he also designed clothes and painted—he was a pluralist. And my father, he was not only a painter and a set designer for film and TV, but he also designed every piece of furniture in our house and built it.”

Seems the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

2. Good design knows no economic boundaries.

Rather than typecasting himself as either the high-end or everyman’s designer, Rashid applies his design sensibilities to everything from luxury goods for Christofle, Veuve Clicquot and Alessi to democratic products for Umbra, Bobble and 3M.

Perhaps casting himself as the ultimate client helps keep him grounded—and challenged. “I live with all my work,” he told the Post. “I’ve designed everything in my home, down to the forks and knives. I like to use the products, to see their problems and how I can make them better.”

3. Beautiful design should be ubiquitous.

Rashid is passionate about design serving a purpose beyond utility, a philosophy that can be seen in everything he designs, from hotels to hand-soap packaging.

In his Karimanifesto, Rashid writes: “Every business should be completely concerned with beauty—it is after all a collective human need. I believe that we could be living in an entirely different world—one that is full of real contemporary inspiring objects, spaces, places, worlds, spirits and experiences. Design has been the cultural shaper of our world from the start. We have designed systems, cities and commodities. We have addressed the world’s problems. Now design is not about solving problems, but about a rigorous beautification of our built environments.”

Don’t miss the chance to be inspired by Karim Rashid at HOW Design Live, where he will deliver a keynote address.