Posted by on February 07, 2011 in Blog

Aside from your clothes, can you name the designer of any other items in your house? If you can, chances are that name would be Karim Rashid, alternately known as the Poet of Plastic, the Prolific Designer, and most notably, the Most Famous Industrial Designer in All the Americas. For those paying attention, Rashid’s work can be found in the countless daily interactions that we often take for granted: from public trash disposals and manhole covers to cheap plastic chairs and wastepaper baskets.

“More and more people are starting to realize just how much of their lives are touched by product design,” claims Rashid, who, standing at 6 foot 4 inches and dressed exclusively in pink and white, is probably the best-known figure in the field of product design. Born in Egypt, raised in Canada, and currently living in New York, Rashid has quickly risen to the apex of product design. Though renowned for his high-end furniture and elegant designs, he claims that his greatest passion is producing items that are efficiently designed and mass-produced, yet surprisingly warm and artistic. Time Magazine described his philosophy as an attempt to “make the banal better so that people notice design more.”

By all accounts, he has succeeded. From Method cleaning products to Black & Decker tools, Rashid has brought new life to seemingly mundane objects, many of which often turn up as modern art showpieces. His work has spanned the globe, encompassing Brazilian high heels, Parisian hard drives, and Korean vacuum cleaners. Straddling countless forms and media, he has even suddenly and unexpectedly signed up for a regular DJ gig at the Guggeinheim.

Much of Rashid’s motivation stems from his father, himself an Egyptian artist who designed sets for Canadian television. The energy and personality his father imbued in common household objects – he would rearrange the family furniture every week – undoubtedly contributed to Rashid’s ability to see beyond conventional form and structure.

Most recently, Karim Rashid was responsible for the design and distribution of the Water Bobble, a clever personal water bottle with a built-in carbon filter for clean water on the go. The Water Bobble comes in a variety of sizes and colors, allowing for the personal expression that as so characterized its inventor’s style. Beyond its countless uses in fact-paced American life, the Water Bobble could be a real resource for billions of people without regular access to clean drinking water.

Rashid draws heavily from the concept of “blobjects,” rounded curvy materials that starkly contrast with the sharp, streamlined modernist look. Looking through his playfully colorful website, one would be hard-pressed to find a single straight line. It’s a testament to his ability that such an unconventional style has found its way into so many conventional objects. And that may well be precisely what Karim Rashid himself represents: an ordinary person with a penchant for the extraordinary.

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