"Timeless design is not a cliché"
- Philippe Starck


French designer Philippe Starck argues that consumers should be buying products that will last for generations rather than following passing trends, in this movie filmed by Dezeen in New York.

"Timeless seems like a cliché," says Starck, who was speaking at the launch of his new Organic tap for Axor. "It's not."

"If I take the example of fashion, today a girl will buy a new dress every year. If she has a little more money, every six months. If she has [a lot of] money, every two months. This is a little crazy, because we know that the world cannot afford so much material, so much lost energy."

"Timeless is the only way that is really ecological," Starck continues. "We don't need recycling if we just buy less."

Philippe Starck
Philippe Starck

Starck believes a product must have both an enduring design and be sufficiently well-made to be considered timeless.

"If we are obliged to buy something, we have to buy something intelligent, which has longevity, so that you don't put it in the trash five years later because it is no longer a good look," he says. "And [it must have] longevity of materiality because five years later if you still like the look, but the quality was bad, it goes in the trash."

"It's a new way of thinking," he concludes. "You don't buy [a product] for six months. You buy for you, for your life and for your children and your grandchildren."

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  • Hallelujah to that! The young-girl-buying-dress example says it all.

  • Buy less, pay more. That seems to be the motto.

    Give me an economic aerated tap Ikea style affordable for the masses and we’ll talk ecology. Hey, there are tap aerators you can buy for less than 10 euros for those who care.

    “Timeless” is just a synonym for expensive and exclusive. No thanks.

  • I think our desire to change goes beyond just fashion. All of the stimuli in our environment (clothes, furniture, music, fragrance) attach themselves to a period of time. They store memories.

    Often we want to move beyond those memories. Either they have negative associations or we have progressed from that time, and we want to match that progression with new stimuli.

    If I put on an old jacket, I think of the things I was doing when I bought it – where I was in my life and my career. But I want to move beyond that. I want to be in the now. And so I need something new.

  • It takes a wile for Mr. Starck to realise this. We have to make good stuff. Not cheap trash out of shitty materials.

  • Dieter Rams has technically been saying this for years. But yes, Monsieur Starck is right. Timeless design is 'good design'. We have a long way to go in appreciating this concept in the UK especially.

  • I’d love to see this jokers closet! And how many fruitless products he owns. Besides, didn’t he denounce the whole design industry and say he was going into retirement about 5 years ago? Hypocrite.

  • Timeless design is something that is discovered with the passing of time by future generations. Until then it is no more than good fashionable design.

    Design’s that are functional, aesthetically pleasing and evoke a joyful emotional response are likely to endure the passing of fashionable changes, however these are rare and they often require an historical reference. Arrogance and fashion are often good bedfellows.

  • mrwill

    I guess he’s just talking to the elite, as 95% of people can’t afford to make this choice. Timeless design has to last the test of time.

  • timefull

    I love the guy. How can he express such common sense after years of producing timeless products? Beside, timeless or not, he would be advised to pay closer attention to ergonomics. Have you try using one of his timeless pieces of organic faucet?

    Beside, sorry for the French accent ;)

  • Coleman Horn

    I like Starck, but “timeless” is the antonym of his design practice. I think he might be confusing “quality” with “timeless”. Nothing looks more dated than some of the interiors he did in the 1990s.

  • Sameold Sameold

    “It’s a new way of thinking,” he concludes. “You don’t buy [a product] for six months. You buy for you, for your life and for your children and your grandchildren.”

    New way of thinking? Buy products that are built to last and can be handed down through the generations? That’s the thought process my grandparents used their whole lives.

  • Katherine Beatrice

    I agree with Starck but this is not a new way of thinking. In fact it is an old pre-industrialisation way of thinking. When all things were made by hand they were precious due to the resources required to make them, and thus were often made with quality and design in mind.

    One couldn’t afford to have it not last generations or at least for one’s own life. I find what Starck says to be idealistic in a world where quick and cheap will always make it too easy to make a change. However, I do admire his hope to change the way people think about their material reality.