Bruce Sterling on Tue, 5 Jan 1999 12:34:42 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Viridian Note 00039: Starck's New Catalog

     [orig to Viridian List <>]

Key concepts:  Philippe Starck, eco-design, merchandising, 
tribal futurism, Bruce Sterling promotional tour

Attention Conservation Notice:  Contains design manifesto 
originally written in French.


Entries in the Viridian "Fungal Typography" Contest:

From:^^^^* (Warren Ellis)  

Warren Ellis remarks:  Noted French designer Philippe 
Starck is offering a new manifesto and an accompanying 
design catalogue.  Starck declares that he wants to design  
an ethical future for his children. This may be tangential 
to core Viridian concerns, but (it seems to me) it's of 
vast interest to see this famed designer attacking 
environmental concerns in the commercial arena, and with 
great energy and industry.

Starck's "GoodGoods" catalog is not online, but can be 
ordered free from the website. Below, some excerpts from 
Philippe Starck's introduction.

"Non-products for non-consumers"

by Philippe Starck

    "One fine day, several million years ago, Mrs 
Cromignonne and Mr Abominet fell in love with their 
offspring.  A new era dawned.  Madame strove to protect 
her infant, Monsieur, to improve posterity.  Together, the 
two of them == the pragmatic mother and the idealistic, 
visionary father == invented the naive concept of 
progress, which was to be expressed chiefly by the 
creation and manufacture of tools supposed to make our 
life easier and even contribute to our happiness.  Much, 
much later == that is to say, in our times == it became 
evident that the most generous ideals tend to be the first 
to degenerate.

     "Man found himself many a time a slave to the tools 
he created to serve him.  Although there are a few rare 
objects whose integrity, practicality and sense of purpose 
have remained intact, a plethora of others exist only for 
themselves, without humour, love or fancy.  Farewell, 
dreams of happiness...

     "As I matured, I realised I could try to correct an 
injustice to which I was myself probably an accomplice.

     "Because I am neither a philosopher, nor a 
sociologist, nor a statesman; because I lack the 
intelligence to grapple with the problem on theoretical 
grounds, I decided to be pragmatic.

     "Grasping the wills and won'ts, the needs and desires 
of the citizen I would like to have as a friend and 
neighbour, I have attempted to describe the equipment he 
or she is likely to carry and maybe, through him or her, 
catch a glimpse of the society in which I'd like to see my 
children and those of my friends growing up.

     "What a vast, pretentious and naive programme this 

      "I therefore tried to find, collect, correct or 
create (when necessary) objects which are honest, 
responsible and respectful to people.

      "Not necessarily beautiful objects, but good 

     "I soon realised I was facing an impossible task.  
After research and selection, very few products could meet 
my stringent standards.  Yet, although the ones I approved 
were still far from my ideal of perfection, they did 
convey a certain spirit; an alternative direction, a new 
way of being.

   "Today, I am able to offer you a catalogue of these
objects, a compendium I would like to call a catalogue
of 'non-products for non-consumers.' (...)"

Warren Ellis remarks:.  What follows are: organic foods, 
organic clothes (organic cotton, no chemical treatments, 
some grown on former coca land in Peru), a series of t-
shirts depicting the growth of a foetus to term ("Pride 
becomes didactic"), slogan t-shirts ("Tomorrow will be 
less", "Nous Sommes Les Mutants", "Moral Market"), shades 
("governed by a commitment to non-fashion"), bed linen, 
lamps, respirator masks ("to be safely equipped for any 
possible technological, chemical, bacteriological or 
radioactive mishap is neither a symptom of paranoia nor 
the sign of an excessively pessimistic nature").

   Starck again:   "Non-products are confronted with a 
grid of requirements based on such criteria as: 
justification of existence, integrity of purpose, 
longevity, moral elaboration, didacticism, political 
significance, symbolic social significance, sexual 
significance, human responsibility, fair cost, fair price, 
creativity, and, sometimes, humour, poetry and respect."

    GoodGoods is not an essentially Viridian enterprise.  
But it does provide lessons.  Starck exerts himself in the 
attempt to make living the GoodGoods way *desirable*.  He 
does his damnedest  (it's probably more convincing in the 
original French, but GoodGoods is solidly bilingual 
throughout) to make GoodGoods a club, a tribe he's 
inviting you to join.  He's spent two years on this, and 
now he's providing you the chance to get in on the ground 
floor with him.

    In a year's time, Pope-Emperor, you and yours will be 
faced with real-world application to that same problem.  
Starck seems to me to be bench-testing his solutions to 
that problem right now.

Warren Ellis

(((Well, see, that's the advantage of being an actual 
designer like Philippe Starck, as opposed to being a lame, 
English-speaking, sociophilosophical sci-fi guy who 
intelligently grapples with this crap on theoretical 
grounds.  I spent a couple days inside a Philippe Starck 
hotel once.  It was a very swank joint, but  it was like 
living in somebody's Filofax.  Nevertheless, I heartily 
concur with M. Starck that this is an excellent time to 
make fools of ourselves with vast, pretentious and naive 
programs.  He couldn't be more right about that.  
Absolutely, Philippe!  With you all the way, mon frere!  
And this is no mere tepid theoretical agreement, either.  
I'm gonna *buy* something of yours == probably that Starck 
lemon juicer that looks like a rocketship.)))

    (((The Viridian List will now enjoy a brief hiatus 
while my publisher sends me out on the road to sign my new 
novel.  If you're on the West Coast of the USA and you 
feel some urge to press the papal flesh, drop on by.)))

 Bruce Sterling's  "Distraction Tour"

 Wednesday Jan 6, 1999
 University Bookstore, 4326 University Way, NE,
 Seattle, 7-8PM

 Thursday, Jan 7
 Powell's. 1005 West Burnside, Portland
 7:30 - 8:30 PM

 Friday Jan 8
 Stacey's, 581 Market Street SF CA, 12:30-1:30PM
 Dark Carnival 3086 Claremont Berkeley, 6-7PM

 Saturday Jan 9
 Dangerous Visions, Sherman Oaks    2-4pm

 Sunday Jan 10
 Mysterious Galaxy 3904 Convoy Street #107
 Burbank 2-3:30 PM
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