Philippe Starck

Reflecting on 25 years of AXOR Starck

Philippe Starck with his collection AXOR Starck.
Launched in 1994, the AXOR Starck collection forever changed the market for design in the bathroom. With its radical simplicity and deep respect for water as the source of life, AXOR Starck is as relevant and successful today as ever. In celebration of the 25th anniversary of the collection’s launch, Philippe Starck sat down with AXOR to discuss the birth of an icon.
The original way of water transport: a pump.
How did the idea for the AXOR Starck collection arise?

PS// The idea was very simple because, with me, everything is simple. It’s just water, the beauty of water. And it was a great honor for me to speak about water because I love water. I live on water. I’m always close to water. And there is a beauty in water. The more you put things—materiality—around water, the less it’s beautiful. The idea was to make a design that was deeply, structurally respectful of water. And strangely, I had the idea of a farm. It’s very simple on an old farm, the relation with water. You have the water from a source. There is a pipe. You have a bucket. You have a pump [makes pumping gesture] and the water goes in the bucket. And the silhouette of the pump is like this [gestures the outline of a pump and of AXOR Starck]. The first thing to bring water in history was the pump, and everything was to make [the design] as simple as this.
First design mixer: worldwide: AXOR Starck.
Were there any significant challenges which had to be overcome?

PS// Strangely, the biggest challenge was to fight trends. This market, which is a very serious market, had the funny idea at this time that we could change a mixer or sink every two years, like a miniskirt, which is completely ridiculous. When I brought my mixer, it was a big surprise because it was not fancy design. I even remember some people told me, “Yes, it’s nice, but you know, it’s not very Starck.” And I said, “What is Starck?" They said, “You know, things like that [makes an elaborate hand gesture].” I said, ‘Yes, but for water, we don’t need things like that. We just need to have the water, the beauty of the water.” But after [the initial surprise], there was a unanimity, and I think I can say—we can say—that it completely changed the market.
Klaus Grohe who established the connection to Philippe Starck.
Do you remember any memorable stories from the last 25 years related to the product?

PS// The only story I can remember is how it started. I believe deeply that, to have a beautiful baby, parents have to be in love. There is no project, nothing, that isn’t based on love. It was 25 years ago—or more—and I was in Formentera. It was very hot, at noon in August, something like that. And I see a guy riding a bicycle [makes panting noise], almost dying under the sun. And he said, “Uhhh, Mr. Starck? Can we speak?” And I thought, “Speaking at noon, in August?” And he said, “You know, I have a company and we make mixers.” And we started to discuss. We fell in love. It was Klaus Grohe. And this guy is and was incredible. He was full of ideas and passion, and we started this tradition to always make the creativity in this same house, at the same table, at the same time, because we had so many good ideas at this place. He always said, “No, no, no, I don’t want a meeting in Paris. I don’t want a meeting in New York. I want a meeting in Formentera.”
Philippe Starck with AXOR Starck.
25 years since its launch, AXOR Starck is as successful as ever. Why it has achieved this success?

PS// Because there’s nothing useless. Because the clear vision of making a model and collection absolutely timeless—based on the right quality, right intelligence, right vision, right ergonomics—was right.
Inspiration for the AXOR Starck collection.
And looking forward to the next 25 years, how might this collection evolve? What could become of it?

PS// Who knows? Because in 25 years we shall be alive or we shall be dead. During this time, there will be people dying because some have too much water [because of rising oceans], some have no water, some have polluted water. Water is really the center of everything. And how we shall drive this urgent subject? That will be the right question. I repeat: People right now are dying. You know, we have seen beautiful civilizations disappear faster than what [is happening] today. That’s why, in 25 years, what will become of the mixer? I don’t know—because I don’t know what will be [the situation with] the water.
AXOR Starck wash basin mixer
To conclude, could you locate the AXOR Starck collection within your body of work? Does it reflect a general approach?

PS// I am not intelligent. I am not able to think complicated things. But I have an instinct that tells me how to find the heart of the subject—the bone, the spine, the center of the subject. And this collection is all about that. That’s why this collection is perhaps one of the best examples of work which is useful.

Vita // Philippe Starck

Perhaps the best-known and most influential of contemporary designers, Philippe Starck is driven by his concern for the planet and his vision of a better world. A free spirit, he is renowned for the depth and breadth of this talent. From speakers to chandeliers, motorcycles to mega-yachts, Starck seems to have done it all. The hotels he has designed have attained a cult-like status. His everyday objects are, in their way, no less spectacular than his fabulous interiors.

Find out more about Philippe Starck and visit his website.

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