Design for Life Phillipe Starck

So Phillipe Starck’s design version of the apprentice kicked off last night on the BBC, the first of 6 episodes.

I was wondering if anybody else watched this and what they thought?

I’ve read damming reviews on it prior to the show and my own personal opinion is one of the same. (although it is only the first episode and probably to soon to judge) The format I think is terrible, It’s too reality TV style and shows only a glimpse of Starck and his madness. I also found elements of him to be a bit of a hippocrit. He had a go (rightfully so) at one contestant who said that her ‘winning entry’ was more of a sculptural piece rather than a functional chair, he commented on about how design is not about sculpture it is about functional artefacts which I agree with but it made me think, hang on a minute, I can think of several of your items that are elitist and not functional in the slightest.

I was also very surprised at the methodology used to select the candidates and the quality of those that are on the show. In the review which was posted on frong page on Core he discusses how he wouldn’t want to hire any of them at one stage and I think this is entirely down to how he shortlisted the contestants, I was screaming at the TV when I saw a mood changing shoe highligted as excellent design. Lets hope they blossom as the series goes on.

I specially hooked up my TV last night to watch this (I dont really watch tv) and was left a bitterly dissapointed. It was only the first show and their first task wasn’t to actually to design anything but rather get into Phillipe’s mind set. I hope as the series goes on we get to see more of the inner workings of Starck, that the contestants are good designers and watch them improve in the latter stages.

One positive was it was nice to see a program making the public aware of just how important designers are and how much bad design there is out there, hopefully others will now realise the importance of what we do.

For those who missed it here is a link to the BBC Iplayer

I spent the whole hour shouting at the screen, it was cringe-worthy and the standard of work of the contestants from what was shown, to put it nicely, was shit. But its ID on the BBC at 9pm. Stark is a hypocrite, what he does and what he says are two totally different things. Though the show seems to deliver the right message. Not sure if I’ll watch the whole series but it’s worth a watch if you haven’t seen it.

Someone needs to rip this for our American friends, welcome to our world and having to wait months for new seasons of everything!

I’m scouring the web for a site playable in the States. If you find one, post it here!

Saw the eagerly awaited show and I think there’s only going to be one winner and that is Stark himself. It feels as though it’s going to be a bit of a publicity stunt to get his message to a slightly wider audience than those in the design field. I agree that the quality of the contestants was really poor. I did get the impression that despite what was said, they didn’t get that many applicants. I also felt (based only on the first episode) that despite this being billed as the dream chance for 1 person to break into the design world, this is being tailored to make good TV, my concern is that when they leave the show at whatever stage, they may still lack many core skills - ie, sketching ability etc etc and then will have to get a job having already been judged on the show. I hope that the experience will be a help, not a hinderance.

The word ‘tribe’ - must be the buzz word of the moment in the Stark agency.

saw it last night too… here’s an upload for you guys: Free large file hosting. Send big files the easy way!

I liked hearing Stark, he’s entertaining and maybe it’ll offer insights into his way of working - but I think the premise of the show is flawed. I think he will pick the student that thinks most like himself, if any of them can come close

I also thought the students were selected for more than just their design skills. There is the arrogant guy, the older guyr, the very young sophomore guy, etc… seems like a group that was partially picked for their entertainment value, not solely for what they could do. I especially thought this when it showed the preview of the next episode where they were discussing their strategies - arrogant guy decided to stay in bed all day because he didn’t have any competition.

I’d probably watch it again, not for the show but just to see what Stark will say

Vimeo stream just came through on Twitter - Design for Life on Vimeo

Thanks for the links, will watch when I get back home.

Here’s a link to an article with Starck’s comments on the show:

I saw the show and was most angered by the lad giving his description of the female plug sockets and male joystick
To me it stunk of some half arsed student (I know he is a student) turning up pissed to a morning lecture and standing up to do a presentation and throwing together a bunch of buzz words that he has overheard the lecturers using, fair dos if you are trying to impress someone like starck arrogance probably is the best way of doing it
I imagine that he is going to produce designs that do not sucessfully perform any function presented as an unmanufacturable photoshop rendering acompanied by bullshit, which come to think of it could well make him the next phillipe stark.

for those in the US (and anywhere non uk in the world) try it lets you make it appear that you are anywhere in the world to access bbc i player, 4 on demand etc and for expats it means you can watch the 6nations, FA cup etc live

I feel the lack of student talent is down to three major points which the tv producers didn’t really think about before the show.

  1. The actual application and filming of the show was completely wrong if they were wanting the best candidates for the program, as filming took part between September and December any real ‘good candidate’ for the show wouldn’t apply as it would conflict with either returning to university or starting a new career/job, as most of this happens around September time.
    If the filming would have been over the summer break i.e starting directly after graduation, this would have made it a viable option to many uk students and recent graduates for their summer break or to take the place of early job hunting as this time is normally used by students to take on internships or holidays. Aa applications for the show didn’t finish until mid August this really didn’t give much option for contestants (there were only around 230 application and it doesn’t take a genious to figure out the percentage of applicants who would even be considered).

This is easily shown by the caliber of the contestants who when listening to the back stories have not been able to find employment after graduation for up to 3years, are naive and unskilled, have recently been laid off or are currently “freelancing”.

  1. The concept of the show was completely off and should have been more like a project runway style of show rather than an Apprentice. The judges being Starck and his friends and family show an extremely single minded view of ID and emphasize how subjective the discipline is.

  2. The show is aimed at creating a signature designer. Which I feel is wrong. Even if that were the case it requires years of skill, practice and respect and a certain confidence and cockiness a TV show can never forge to become a top celebrity designer, (From what I see signature designers don’t necessarily mean Good design, especially in ID). Any winning ‘Design for life’ designer will never be know for their work after this show be be know for being a reality TV show winner because of the shows format, and who really wants that in the small world of design.


  • I agree with the problem of Starcks constant contradiction and hypocrisy. A case in point being his vision of minimizing the amount of products int he future when he picks out the Guys Lamp shade speaker, when in his interview with the guardian

An object must function in myriad ways, says Starck, and an innovative design won’t always satisfy every requirement: “If you really want to squeeze a lemon, you buy for 10 euros an electric lemon squeezer and that will do the job perfectly.” Juicy Salif, on the other hand, is an aesthetic statement, a minimal accessory, a conversation starter, and now a design classic. “I still use mine. It’s a very good object. But I also have an electrical one.”

I think the show will be funny to watch but a the same time extremely cringe worthy Starck is funny man to watch and I hope he doesn’t take himself too seriously in reality as that would be the biggest shame.

I great quote I heard from a top US designer was that in design there are Stars and great designers, stars rise and fall but great designers live forever.


Rob (the old one) graduated from my uni in the same year as me. (he did furniture, me product) he’s a proper nice guy in real life and is an incredibly talented furniture designer and maker.

Apart from that i have one major issue with the show. Why, when the show is looking for a new ‘star designer’ is the prize a 6 month internship with Mr Ego himself, Phillipe Stark? Its stupid. do you think stark went for a 6 month internship with Deiter Rams? Thats why i think the quality of students is low, no one who has self belief in their abilities would apply.

Also, i think for a design program, its incredibly badly designed.

But its a darn site more interesting than anything else on ‘TV’ and will pass the time until top gear comes back

I watched this show (thank you bit torrent) with a grain of salt. I was surprisingly impressed with Starck’s TED talk but he does pander to the “look at meee I am ze craaazeee dezin-eerrr” image he has created for himself.

You have to bear in mind it is a reality show with all the trappings (the cocky one, the young one, the bitchy one, all living in a house together, they will focus on interpersonal relationships and conflict rather than design issues etc.). Starck has already distanced himself from the show in the Guardian article.

I will watch to catch the few tidbits of information that will fall out. It will be interesting to see inside a famous studio and see how it actually works (based on the example of the photo wall of his ‘tribe’, with a fair dose of wank).

In regards to what happened on the show, I thought he was quite unfair to the girl who offerred the example of the packaging. He focused on the product inside the package rather than her point that one package was a better use of resources, the product was irrelevant to her argument. An interesting insight to working with him.

One of the contestants should’ve asked him why he ripped off SUCK UK’s gun lamp.

I found the programme dull. Not sure if I will even remember to tune in next week. I think the real problem with the programme is that Strack is looking to find a ‘British designer’ to re-unite a British style. Though I read an article about a month ago in which Starck claimed not to believe in national design as it is confined. British design has come under a lot of stick recently and rightly so. But that isn’t to say its the fault of British designers. The designs which have come under fire are government led; i.e, the London Olympics logo (I am still at this moment in time trying to get compensation from the government. The first time I saw the logo it made me violently sick, I was laid off for 2 weeks).

The British government is rubbish; everyone knows this, how is it that they are expected to have any good taste in design. Did you see that duck pound? It was horrible. I wonder what Starck would have made of that. There is no great British culture anymore, the society has changed in my view for the better. Starck will fail at finding a sole British designer because there are so many different cultures, feelings and emotions within Britain right now. The days of Frank Pick are over for now.

From a designers point of view I found the show magnanimously embarrassing

Oh come on, British design isn’t in that bad of a state. Alice Rawsthorne has caused quite a stir with her recent article and to be quite honest she does my head in. I won’t go there. Lets all stop being so British and moaning about it all, sure the 2012 logo is a bit of a shocker but its not all doom and gloom…

People liked this design so much they stopped spending and started collecting, not exactly what you need during a recession but still, it was liked. Half of the Ojbectified documentary interviewee’s were British, with an American director, surely thats a good thing?

Boogey man (good name), that wasn’t my point. I agree with what Starck said, but since he is hypocritical thats a risky business. I think the future is more about international collaborative design then a national nostalgic design. technology made the world smaller and so every designer is open to far many more visual inspirations. The concept behind the programme has no intellect. It could be worrying as it will be a lot of people’s first introduction to the design process, but the majority of people will know it is ‘reality tv’, not to be taken seriously, I can’t see Starck coming out of this one very well. Your right we shouldn’t be so British. Nor should we be so American, Italian, Japanese, etc etc. But I can’t help but see Starck as a camp Napoleon type. Maybe he is trying to present design’s post-mortem, meanwhile we will all just be getting on with designing.

I’ll quote something I heard on the BBC this morning: “One of the significant mysteries in man’s life and culture is that people’s creations can be so utterly their own and so deeply part of us.” - Clifford Geertz, American anthropologist.

As we are exposed to so much more culture and design from around the world, we can’t expect styles to remain. British design is great today, but invisible. The really good work can’t be distinguished from American, French or Chinese work. It’s only the bad stuff that poorly integrates elements and clumsily applies boxy stereotypes that can still be identified in a national sense.

Totally agree with mr 914’s post, and fantastic example boogey man about the new coins they released, I too have a collected set, I love them! To just agree with (yes im british) but it is far from dead I would sing the praises on many an UK ID company as having great design, massive fan of Sam Hect and the work and industrial facility.

I wrote on a pervious post before I timed out that the problem with this is essentially Starck, I mean it’s great to see him on the tele and understand his madness. However, my main worry\concern\annoying itch is that this isn’t showing what ID really is. Poncing around saying how a joystick is masculin isn’t difficult re tunning yourself to this method of thinking in my mind is pretty easy and is not design. We all know that the mastery of design is having a whole bunch of niggly constraints and STILL being creative and innovative. It is the hard work to acheive this which Is what i feel we wont see and the world wont see how hard, clever and talented we really are as a collective bunch. Furthermore emphasised by seeing contestants staying in bed till 1pm, jeez how about what really happens, the long days, working all the way through the night, functioning on only a few hours sleep during the week.

I do hope that this show continues but the producers change the format and change the ruddy face of it. Swap Starck with Dick Powell and Richard Seymour, listening to those two is just as entertaining!

What are the thoughts from across the pond on this series?

Phillipe Starck is so cute. I love his French accent!

My favorite Stark quote from the show: “the French are know to be a pain in the ass. We are a pain in the ass… When you make something bad, people say : oh, it’s bad! when we make something good, the people say : oh, it’s bad”

One positive that I did take from the first episode is that the show emphasises that design is about a way of thinking.