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Totem Design
Tel: 212-925-5506
Fax: 212-925-5082
Main / 2003 / 2002 / 2001 / 2000 / 1999 / 1998
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, Pure, Zeritalia, Kovacs, Elite and Directional. Rashid's furniture and accessories complement ten large digital 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 is 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.
Copyright © 2008 David Shearer   
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