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Philippe Starck Doesn't Want a Trendy Bathroom

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Ever wonder about the origins of what inspires a designer? How does Philippe Starck, the enfant terrible of the design world, and arguably the most internationally recognized product and interior designer, conceive of something new?

Starck has improved a myriad of categories, including now-iconic products for Alessi (Juicy Salif) and Kartell (Louis Ghost Chair) and the interiors of the first boutique hotels -- as well as boats, knives, transit cards and touch-responsive headphones.

So where does it all start? And what does he think of design? We caught up with the French designer in Berlin for the European launch of his latest collection -- his third -- for Axor, the German plumbing company, as he discussed his creative process and the superficiality of the industry. "Design at its best can give you a better life, but first you must have a good life," he says.

Axor Starck Organic commemorates the 20th anniversary of the company's designer collaborations, which premiered with a Starck design (now a best-seller, of course). A collection of 20 pieces will be available in the U.S. in May. The genesis of the creative process, he says, was "I thought the energy of life might be missing. There's nothing more elegant than the body. But what's missing in fixtures is the vegetale reference -- new flowers, trees, the energy of something beginning." The design brings the "on-off" turning mechanism down to the spout, and the water temperature control moves up (remaining at that temperature for the next use), so seemingly intuitive a change that the designer says, "Now I think all other ways to use a faucet are absurd!"

"My work is not to add but to propose the essence of what we need. I stop working when I see it is impossible to make less, when we are at the bone." Apparently that minimal idea carries over to the humble bicycles, which may be replaced soon enough by a hybrid bicycle-scooter, which he just debuted for the city of Bordeaux.

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