the new millennial
French designer Philippe Starck is known as many things to many people. Some view him as a master of product design (he crafted Microsoft’s first designer mouse), while others see him as a Willy Wonka of exteriors and hotels.
The multi-faceted designer has dreamed up one a many iconic building. In 1989, he designed the trapezoid Asahi Beer Hall in Tokyo, complete with an outlandish golden flame that now serves as a modern landmark. Last year, the Le Nuage building made headlines. Dubbed the ‘inflatable’ fitness and wellness bubble, its façade featured extensive use of curved slabs of plastic. Then, there’s the eagerly awaited hotel in Metz, France that’s slated for delivery in 2018. The 90-room and 9-suite hotel with neo-Gothic windows and Art Noveau-inspired lines lead one to imagine what it’s like living in a 19th-century European mansion, which it has been modelled after. The architectural feat? The monolithic mansion will be perched atop a square concrete block.
Regardless, one thing that many can agree on is that Starck’s straight talking, humorous personality, along with a lack of self-censorship results in one too many print-worthy quotes. Just earlier this month, Starck made an appearance at the newly-opened, 293-room M Social Singapore hotel along the Robertson Quay enclave to speak of his latest avant-garde, chapel-like hotel design. True to his eclectic personality, the rooms are named as such: The Nice Room, The Nicer Room, The Big Room and The Bigger Room.
On the inspiration for M Social
When I first arrived, I saw Singapore as something unique. It has one of the most beautiful cultural developments in our society. As it got cleaner, it became more serious. It’s a very serious city. But when [the] chairman (Kwek Leng Beng of CDL, developer M Social) brought me here and showed me the [Singapore] river, I had a dream. I had a dream of an urban resort, a place where you go with friends, a sort of love shack.
On his dream for M Social
This hotel isn’t for young people. It is for people who are young at heart, who are still able to love, create and dream. This place has life. I hope this will be a place where people are creative. Creative is M Social.
On M Social’s rooms
When the chairman showed me the room, I thought, “So small! I cannot do it," but I realised it was very interesting and challenging. A small footprint can be interesting. It shows that a small volume can be incredibly sexy. [It’s] even more sexy than a big room, where energy is diluted. The room took me four times the amount of time [I usually spend on a room], because everything had to be perfect. And the rooms here are perfect. I love it. It’s the best I ever made in my life.
Trends are out. The only trend today is longevity, along with durability and heritage. Before a place like that (M Social), hotels were just a trendy place. When trends go, your hotel will be dead. You would have to change the décor once every two years. Now it’s forever. Everything you see here is real. Concrete, wood, stone and steel. And it’s forever.
I don’t care about aesthetics or trends. I care about how I can make a place where both young and creative locals and foreigners will come here, to meet, speak, hate and love, and create what they want.
On coming up with ‘pretty’ designs
I don’t try to please everybody. Don’t prostitute yourself [and your design]. Just please yourself. I can say [that] all my hotels are successful because I designed it for myself.
On the mystery of love
At the hotel’s entrance, you’ll see two peanuts. It’s a mystery. There’s something inside. I’ll never tell you what it is. It’s your job to find out to find out what the mystery is. Remember, when you fall in love with somebody, you don’t fall in love with the person, you fall in love with the mystery that’s inside the person. Mystery is a beauty because it’s a door that opens your visions, dreams, and desires.
On his marriage
A lot of people wonder how this old grumpy fat guy can be married to a beautiful young woman. It’s the secret of a woman. She can love just the brain, and not the body. Men are stupid. Men love the body, and don’t care about the brain. It’s a big mistake.
Interior designer and architect
You can't help but marvel at the French designer's work. From accidental landmarks to futuristic buildings, Starck's eye for design has certainly set the bar high for others intending to follow in his footsteps.