The prolific industrial designer, who was in Dubai for Index in May, has won more than 300 awards. His portfolio spans categories and countries, and includes luxury goods for French silverware company Christofle, lighting for Italian design firm Artemide, packaging for Hugo Boss, interiors for restaurants and residences, and even manhole covers for New York City. The author, frequent guest lecturer and sometimes-DJ was born in Cairo, raised in Canada, educated in Italy and lives in New York.
If you could wake up anywhere tomorrow, where would you be?
On another planet.
You’re sitting down to the perfect meal. Where are you, whom are you with and what are you eating?
Well, I’ve only really eaten organic food for the last 20 years. So it would be organic, probably grilled fish with a mixed salad, and I’d be with a beautiful, smart, intelligent woman.
What does your dream home look like?
It has a revolving floor in it.
WHAT’S YOUR Favourite city in the world?
I know this sounds sad, but I don’t really have one. I don’t think any city right now is doing it well. I’m talking about cities, not towns. I spend my life in traffic congestion in every big city in the world. And I hate being stuck in a car. The urban planning of most cities is a disaster.
What is your most treasured possession?
When you are DJ-ing, what is your go-to track?
Honestly, I don’t have one. And that’s because there is so much choice. My go-to track will last a week, and then I’m on to the next one.
What music do you listen to yourself?
Well, I play electronic music, but I listen to more ambient electronic when I’m drawing and things. I don’t like listening to lyrics because it takes me somewhere, and I don’t like listening to nostalgic music because it takes me to places that I don’t necessarily want to go to at that time.
Do you remember the first piece of design that you fell in love with?
Yes, it was a one-piece, all-plastic apartment designed by [Italian industrial designer] Joe Colombo. Like a modular apartment where everything was integrated as one piece. I was maybe 11 years old.
You have designed over 3,000 products, as well as buildings, interiors and fashion items. What drives you at this point in your career?
I feel like I am just starting a lot of the time. I have a perpetual dissatisfaction with the whole physical world, so that’s a big driver. Design goes on forever, so just because I have designed 15 hotels, it doesn’t mean I can’t design another 15, and make those better than the last ones. There’s always something else to do. And there are plenty of things that I haven’t had a chance to do yet – I haven’t had a chance to do a bicycle, and I haven’t really done a car, for example.
What’s the one thing that you haven’t designed yet, but would like to?
I’ve done buildings, but I’ve rarely had a really decent budget for an interior. I have proved already that you can make great interiors with little money, and I’m good at that, but that holds me back from a lot of ideas that I would like to do that just cannot be built within those budgets. I’d like an extravagant budget, to do something that the world hasn’t seen before.
What are your thoughts on design in Dubai?
I think Dubai has some really phenomenal projects, and is an amazing city in many ways. At the same time, there are some buildings here that should probably have never been built. It’s a little bit ad hoc. It’s a phenomenal city, if you think about it. I think moving forward, it maybe needs more radical proposals. I think some of the more recent projects I’ve seen are trying to be historic, which is a shame because at that point, it becomes kitsch and fake, trying to pretend it’s something it’s not.
Read this and more stories in Luxury magazine, out with The National on Thursday, June 23.
Source: art & life