Starck on design: Acqua Iguazu, Manila

News - Starck on design: Acqua Iguazu, Manila

The Philippine Star Newspaper in Manila interviews Philippe Starck about Acqua Iguazu, YOO Inspired by Starck's residential project in Manila.

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What convinced you to design the common areas/amenities of Acqua Iguazu in Manila? In a way, this riverfront development can be seen as a great opportunity to gentrify the area. Did this play at all in the decision to accept the project/commission?

Designing a new building represents an opportunity to bring people together, to create a community. Common areas of a building are the places where neighbours meet and socialize. They are the modern village meeting places. I wanted to create a space that sparks people’s imaginations, enlivens their conversations and brings them together.

Can you describe the dynamics at YOO, between you and John Hitchcox?

When I met John about 15 years ago, I thought to myself, “who is this crazy Englishman talking about setting up a company?” He was passionate and persistent in his vision to create a company with the best design and development capabilities. And after a lot of conversations in mixed languages and in different places around the world, we created a company in 1999, that was all about you, so we called it YOO.  It’s been a great friendship between an Englishman and a Frenchman that has resulted in some of the most beautiful homes around the world. 

How do you approach design of condominiums and hotels, or a renovation project like Le Merideinn at Beverly Hills? Do you think design should be city- or market-specific?

Hotels or homes are not about places – not cities or markets. They are about people. I design for people. If the design does not make people’s lives better, what is the point? I look for solutions.

How do your think your design will impact the residents of Acqua Iguazu and Manila in general?

A man’s home is his castle. It’s the place you raise your children, where you have dinner with your family and talk with your friends. The design for Acqua Iguazu is about creating a place where you can bring people together. We want to create excuses for people to meet, to talk, to inspire each other, love each other. I hope the residents will talk more, laugh more, love more.

Numerous Filipinos are huge fans of your chairs and other products for Kartell and Alessi. Are you creating new furniture pieces specifically for Iguazu that may be mass-produced later on?

The YOO inspired by Starck design for Acqua Iguazu’s amenity areas will be exclusive to the development. This is what will make Iguazu a very unique living experience. The world does not need more tables and chairs.

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What inspires your designs? Can you tell the story behind one of your designs, whether for a chair or the interiors of a hotel, a restaurant, or the windmills for Pramac energy group, or the Eurostar train?

Nothing inspires me.  I observe the world and I find solutions to different types of problems. It is not just design for design sake.  I want to open people’s minds. I read a lot about the universe and politics, but these are not as much about inspiration as the pursuit of knowledge and the enhancement of life.  

You work in four different cities — London, New York, Burano and Paris — could you please describe your favorite studio where everything starts and you get the most inspiration.

I work everywhere. I travel with my wife and she is my constant companion, my constant muse.

Is there an architect or designer or company you want to collaborate with and why?

At YOO we collaborate with the best developers in the world. We only work with the best. That is why we are working with Century Properties in Manila.

What direction is design moving to? Have we finally left the militant minimalism of the ‘90s and going towards soft and playful elegance (like the use of chandeliers over a swimming pool for a YOO project in Istanbul)?

Design should always have injections of humour and playfulness. We are social creatures, we like to laugh. Our environments should encourage that. Minimalism is a style palette but I would not describe my designs as minimal. I design for the project, for the solution. And in order to do that, you cannot have a single style.

What city inspires you the most?

I live everywhere. Wherever I am, I love. 


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