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A KARIM RASHID FUTURESPECTIVE @ TOTEM GALLERY
January 18 March 4, 2001
Totem Gallery, one of the country's primary showcases for the dialogue of contemporary
design and art, is proud to present "Futurism", a self-curated exhibition
of Karim Rashid's favorite new creations and artwork. "Futurism" is
sponsored by Bombay Sapphire, Umbra,
Nienkamper, Nambe, Ritzenhoff, Leonardo, Totem,
Elite and Directional. Rashid's furniture and accessories complement ten large
murals, stretching from wall to wall, that testify to the designer's self-termed "sensual
minimalist" style and shows how certain signature elements find it's way
into both his art and his designs. The gallery's interior was designed by Rashid last
year and is his first built interior project: From January 18 it will be a holistic
testament to his art, design and architecture, and visitors can run
off as the first owners of a new Rashid piece.
Call it the art of changing the world with a wastebasket - that's what Karim
Rashid is doing. You know those light, curving, trashcans the Garbo -
with swooping tops in mouthwatering high-gloss mandarin and translucent amethyst
with the curved bottoms that line the walls of two million kitchens? It's the
can that can do what other cans can't, and the Egyptian-Canadian-English designer
made them hover above the realms of design.
He's behind the Oh Chair the curvy, funky-colored plastic chair
so prevalent in every fresh meeting room in America, as well as satellite
guided jogging shoes,
the Con Edison millennial manhole cover, crematorium urns and etched crystal
vases. He introduced "blobject", "sensual minimalism" and "orgonomics" to
design vocabulary. Issey Miyake, Prada and Sony are on his client list. This
all pretty good for a guy who came to New York seven years ago without a single
account. Now he has a staff of more than a dozen and his designs are in large
museums' permanent collections.
"Futurism" marks the official opening of Totem
Gallery, a space that
is dedicated to the many-faceted dialogue between design and art. With a full
schedule of exhibitions planned for the upcoming year, the gallery will feature
a stable of emerging and established designers and artists as the marriage of
art and design is celebrated in many mediums.
Increasingly, artists turn to design for its ability to be relevant; they see
the power it has to be meaningful and speak to the public. Designers and architects
- greats such as Koolhaas and Gehry included - likewise plug into the respected
realm of fine art, loosening further the already faltering dichotomy of art and
design. Karim Rashid's body of work is an excellent example of this phenomenon.
"Design is everything we interface. These things shape our lives," says
Rashid. And how does a wastebasket change our lives? "You?re not going to
change behavior through a wastebasket. It's the nuance of things. If you enjoy
something you live with it longer. It becomes more experiential than a hindrance."
Legend has it that Karim Rashid learned perspective from his father at
the age of two. Seventeen years later, obsessing over the things that play
a role in
our daily experiences, he began molding materials in order to furnish these things
with personality and singularity. Rashid believes that there is no inherent meaning
in an object, but that "if an object is thoughtful we project meaning onto
it in daily life."
And from his West Chelsea studio he has been busy being thoughtful. Charles
Eames believed that good design would create its own market. With more
than 800 products
in production, the 40-year old Rashid has
long since validated this theorem, becoming one of the world's most vendible
designer in the process. He shapes
the stuff that surrounds us: "Design is rooted in everyday life, every tap
you turn, every doorknob you touch." The so-called "sensual minimalism" that
characterizes his style - the feminine curve of a wooden lamp stand or the optical
pleasure embedded in a glass stacking table - is as evident in his polypropylene
Umbra waste basket as it is
in his award-winning line of sleek alloy products
for Nambe, in the Black & Decker workaday snow shovel or his telephone for
Sun Moon Star. His particular brand of modernist elegance had generated international
buzz, earning him contracts from Idee and Issey Miyake, as well as the unofficial
title of the design world's hippest jack-of-all-trades. "Form is much more
seductive when the product's aesthetics are experiential, and not just visual," Rashid says,
declaring the importance of engaging the senses. Objects have to blur experience
with form so that they are inseparable. It means retooling the stuff we live
to suit the way we really live. It means that if we slouch in chairs, we make
the chairs that let us.