Robb Interview: Philipe Starck

It’s easier to perhaps list the things he hasn’t created. From Steve Jobs’ yacht to his famed Louis Ghost chairs, the interiors of the Elysée Palace, luxury residential homes, the world’s most controversial (and recognisable) lemon squeezer, The Mondrian to cars and boats and planes and, well, more. Step inside the mind of the famed French designer.

By Richard Clune 12/01/2023

I spent my late youth staring at Philip Starck’s naked torso.

It was the cover of an eponymous art book – Starck standing proudly and puffed out, a right hand pulling at a belt loop of washed denim jeans, his head twisted 180 degrees to the rear, the back of his head sat atop his doughy body facing outwards.

In hindsight it was a pretty crude Photoshop job (the reverse play informing the book’s back cover) but it also projected an immediate sense of fun and whimsy – two tenets often found in his wide output, and surely, an insight into the man himself.

The book stood tall on the bookshelf of the share house bedroom I bunked down in – a peculiar image that would prove my final sight each day.

Cut to a here and 11pm one recent Wednesday and a slightly blurred image of an older Philipe Starck — thoughtful as he speaks, a permanent smirk etched across his gentle, bearded face – presents itself through the Macbook.

Our conversation is wide-ranging and far removed from expectation. Here there is indeed whimsy and fun, zero ego or even any appreciation for all he has achieved.

Starck will admit that his is a “lonely” existence through choice, a life devoid of people (save his wife, Jasmine) and time spent lost to his mind and its constant, swirling whir of creation.

Read the following as it is. Let his words play out as they do. It is at times rambling, contradictory and arguably lined by eccentricity. And some is muddled by translation, sure.
But read this and also hear the genius that walks a sharpened edge; the wonder of his mind; the love and creativity that drives all Philipe Starck does.

Starck’s iconic Louis Ghost, inspired by armchairs popular during King Louis XVI’s reign.

Mr Stark, good evening. I wanted to say, as someone who’s long admired and directly engaged your work at times, what a privilege it is to speak with you.

Oh, you will be disappointed – you will see [laughs].


Am I right in thinking that you’re in Portugal?
We are in the mist, we are in the fog, atop of the mountain in Sintra, near the sea.


You like to live remotely – it’s my understanding that most of your global properties are somewhat removed?  

There is a technical reason, which is, I live somewhere else in my head. And I basically don’t need a city, I don’t need to go to dinner, to cocktails, to movie theatres, exhibitions and things like that. I have a collection [of houses] in the middle of nowhere with different levels of loneliness… And these different levels of loneliness make for different levels of concentration and that’s where I go to find the level of concentration I need for the type of project I am doing. Here I am in front of the sea at the western point of Europe and I live in the forests with trees, trees, trees. Or I live in the dunes with sand, sand, sand. Or I live in the mud like in my oyster farm in southwest of France or Venice.


Is there inspiration in such surrounds?

No. For me, nature – the sea and trees – is neutral. And I’m not intelligent enough to ask for inspiration … I am also not stupid enough or egoist [sic] enough to judge the quality of my work – but we can see the quantity of my work. At this level of creativity [I make] minimum one big complex project a day, sometimes more. Today I shall make one, two, three, four complex and completely different projects. My wife says it’s not really human – I have a mental sickness and it is true, because I have my life and my fantastic wife and everything, but I have no ‘real’ life … To speak frankly, I’m not interested by ‘real’ life. I’m a drug addict of creativity and inside my metal sickness I’m absolutely normal. Everything that I do is absolutely logical inside the crystal bubble of my mental sickness – I don’t regret it.


Your mind is forever restless is what I take from this – which explains your incredible output over the years.

Yes that is so. This idea of holidays and relaxation – it’s an obscenity because I don’t see why you would do that; why have holidays when you have the opportunity to live by passion?  I actually can’t make anything other than three things: I can love definitively and I’m very happy and very proud of that, I live for the love of my wife. And then, after that, ha ha, I don’t remember, I have no memory… [laughs]


I recall you like sailing …

Yes, YES — it was this, you are very good. The other thing I know well after love, I’m very good at piloting a sailing boat and also motorcycles and a very good pilot of planes – except when I crash, I did this one time.

The distinctive 142-metre Starck- designed Sailing Yacht A, with 90-metre masts.


The sense of sole focus when piloting – that must appeal in ways given your mind?

I work at a range of 200 – 250 projects at the same time. When I make shoes, I think at the same time about something else, this is my mental sickness … When you pilot a plane you have a need to think only of one thing – to pilot. I like to sail in bad seas and large waves – if you make a mistake that can be a disaster, you turn and break your mast and then you and dead.


You like the extremes Mr Starck – there is no fear there. I dare say your fear lives in the framework of conformity – and is perhaps a driving force?

Oh no, I never react to anything. I never make a protestation to something else …


Are you very critical of yourself?
I hate what I do and have the highest level of despise [sic] – I am sorry for my English — of myself and when I finish something my only reaction is to insult myself. I do this all the time, because I see in everything that I do how I was lazy, a coward, dishonest, stupid and I am ashamed of myself when I see what I do.


But what of the positivity your work brings to so many others others – wjo atre in wonder at what you’ve achieved at times.  They love what you do.

I don’t know because I never read magazines or interviews and I have almost no contact with people. This is why I have no reflection of myself and no reflection of what I do … Sometimes my wife tells me how a project is appreciated. ‘Oh good’, I will say, and that’ all … I don’t care, I just care for the engagement with myself; I do it for me and I think it’s a good process if you do it for yourself and at the highest level of creativity, the highest level of honesty.


Yours is a pure creativity – devoid of conscious and direct reflection?

It is pure and stupid creativity [laughs]. To be more clear, consciously I don’t think about it, but subconsciously I, well, sometimes I realise I’ve worked on a project for 50 years. [Gesticulates to his mind operating as an archaic computer processing ] “Schtroomf, schtroomf, schtroomf” and then one day it’s cooked and it’s finished and I take it out. Sometimes it’s not well cooked or finished and I reject it. Subconsciously I work on all things all the time – it’s a profit of this mental sickness. And it’s why people don’t believe me when I say I’ve designed the yacht of Steve Jobs in just three hours. Tomorrow I go to Iceland to make a polar station and I have [already] designed all the project without knowing the program elements and parametres of the design … In 20 minutes it’s all done.


You still design with pen and paper.

Yes, here is my international company [holds up pen and Stack monogrammed notepad]. And I have music too. Almost everyday I listen to the ‘Starck Mix’ – like that I always have the right music for concentration at the right time of the day. This is by the best sound designer in the world, Stephan Crasneanscki of Soundwalk [Collective]. He did it for me 20 years ago. I have other music too – for me the number one to work for concentration is Brian Eno – a perfect balance between intelligence and richness. I feel very close to Brian.


Let’s talk about this notion of art informing design, can they co-exist, do they need to …

Let’s separate the things here. I am not interested by the concept of art. To me it is an old bourgeois concept of the 17, -18-, 19th centuries. And everybody can be an artist – they write a business card: ‘Phillipe Stark, artist’. And there are artists who are creative and there are artists who are not creative. And I don’t like this part – because the artists who are not creative hide other creatives because they create things everywhere and in everything. To me it is not art that makes our animal species evolve – it’s creativity… I try to be a creator, I don’t care to be an artist.


Of all you continue to do, a standout is surely this shift into space with the AXIOM project  [world’s first commercial space station]. This is completely new to you and to all – it involves completely new thought about use, space and living. How wonderful.

My father had a company that built planes. I am a pilot and I work and travel a lot and live in the air more than on earth. And when I am on earth, I don’t touch the ground [laughs]. I am in the air and I am in this space. And so the thing to understand when you work on a new beautiful project like the new ISS and more – it’s not very complicated. You have to understand how very beautiful and special the people who live here are. Incredible. And you have to deeply understand what zero gravity life is. And life without gravity is very interesting – it’s a multidirectional life. We are mainly vertical, when you are dead horizontal, but mainly vertical and it’s not enough. And because we live vertical and sometimes horizontal [sic] our thinking and our dreams are only bi-directional. It is not enough. I love the idea of the zero-gravity life because it’s a higher self. I am proud of this project. For someone who only lives though future and science and intuition and freedom – it’s almost an intimate [project] and we will continue on others.

Starck imagined the interior of Axiom Space, the world’s first commercial space station.

Again love shines through Mr Starck.

For me it is the only thing that exists. I am still not convinced I am alive – I still don’t know what life can be but that means I’m not scared of death … The only thing I know, I see my wife and I see this very strong energy and this is very serious for me – the only hook I have with anything is this tube made of love between my wife and myself.


What a lovely way to see things …

Well, without it, without love, I think I’d be in an asylum.


I doubt that somehow. While you’ll never read this – thankyou for your time, merci mille fois, et j’espere a bientot.

Merci a vous. 


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Timeless Glamour & Music Aboard The Venice Simplon-Orient Express

Lose yourself in a luxury journey, aboard an Art Deco train from Paris

By Belinda Aucott 03/11/2023

Watching the unseen corners of Europe unfold gently outside your train, window can be thirsty work, right? That’s why Belmond Hotels is once again staging a culinary train journey from Paris to Venice, aboard the glittering Art Deco carriages of the Venice Simplon-Orient Express.

To celebrate diversity and inclusion in the LBTQ+ community, another unforgettable train ride is slated for 2 November.

On the journey, ample servings of decadent cuisine will be served and live entertainment will play looooong into the night. Trans-DJ Honey Dijon and Dresden’s Purple Disco Machine are both part of the disco-house line-up.

Passengers are encouraged to dress in black-tie or cocktail attire, before they head to the bar and dining carriages to enjoy their night, where they are promised ‘unapologetic extravagance’,.

Negronis, martinis, spritzes and sours will all be on offer as the sunlight fades.

So-hot-right-now French chef Jean Imbert is also in the kitchen rattling the pans for guests.

Imber puts a garden-green-goodness twist on Gallic traditions. He regularly cooks for the who’s-who. Imbert recently co-created a food concept for Dior in Paris, worked with Pharrell Williams to present a dinner in Miami, and he’s even been invited to Cheval Blanc St-Barth to cater luxe LVMH-owned property.

The young chef is vowing to create no less than ‘culinary perfection’ in motion with his own passion for fresh seasonal produce. There’ll be plenty of Beluga caviar, seared scallops, and lobster vol-au-vents.

“I want to create beautiful moments which complement the train, which is the true star,” says Imbert of his hands-on approach to delectable pastries and twists on elegant Euro classics.

“Its unique legacy is something we take pride in respecting, while evolving a new sense of style and purpose that will captivate a new generation.”

Check the timetable for the itinerary of lush inclusions here.

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Gentlemanly Restraint 

Art and science collide in the the newly released BR03A watch collection by Bell & Ross.

By Belinda Aucott 02/11/2023

In keeping with the brand’s design salute to aviation and military equipment, the pared-back face of the Bell & Ross BR03 Automatic takes its cue from the instrumentation in cockpits. It’s unabashedly minimal and confidently masculine style is set to make it a future classic.

Faithful to the codes that underpin the brand’s identity, the new utilitarian offerings sit within a smaller 41-mm case (a slight departure from the original at 42 mm Diver, Chrono or GMT.) and has a reduced lug width and slimmer hands. The changes extend to the watch movement, which has been updated with a BR-CAL.302 calibre. The watch is waterproof to 300 metres and offers a power reserve of 54 hours.

While the new collection offers an elegant sufficiency of colourways, from a stealthy black to more decorative bronze face with a tan strap, each is a faithful rendition of the stylish “rounded square, four-screw” motif that is Bell & Ross’s calling card.



For extra slickness, the all-black Phantom and Nightlum models have a stealthy, secret-agent appeal, offering up a new take on masculine restraint.

Yet even the more decorative styles, like the black face with contrasting army-green band, feel eminently versatile and easy to wear. The 60’s simplicity and legibility of the face is what makes it so distinctive and functional.

For example, the BR 03-92 Nightlum, with its black matte case and dial, and bright green indices and hands, offers a great contrast during the day and emits useful luminosity at night.

A watch that begs to be read, the the BR03-A stands up to scrutiny, and looks just as good next to a crisp, white cuff as it does at the end of a matte, black wetsuit.

That’s a claim not many watch collections can make. 

Explore the collection.

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First Drive: The Porsche 911 S/T Is a Feral Beast That Handles the Road Like an Olympic Bobsledder

The commemorative model borrows underpinnings from the GT3 RS and includes a 518 hp engine.

By Basem Wasef 23/10/2023

The soul of any sports car comes down to the alchemy of its tuning—how the engine, suspension, and chassis blend into a chorus of sensations. The secret sauce of the new Porsche 911 S/T, developed as a tribute to the 60th anniversary of the brand’s flagship model, is more potent than most; in fact, it makes a serious case for being the most driver-focused 911 of all time.

Sharing the S/T designation with the homologation special from the 1960s, the (mostly) innocuously styled commemorative model borrows underpinnings from the more visually extroverted GT3 RS. Yet what the S/T, starting at $290,000, lacks in fender cutouts and massive spoilers it makes up for in directness: a flat-six power plant that revs to 9,000 rpm, a motorsport-derived double-wishbone suspension, and a manual gearbox. It’s a delightfully feral combination.

Rossen Gargolov

Whereas the automatic-transmission GT3 RS is ruthlessly configured for maximum downforce and minimum lap times, the S/T is dialed in for the road—particularly the Southern Italian ones on which we’re testing the car, which happen to be the very same used by product manager Uwe Braun, Andreas Preuninger, head of Porsche’s GT line, and racing legend Walter Röhrl to finalize its calibration. The car reacts to throttle pressure with eerie deftness, spinning its 518 hp engine with thrilling immediacy, thanks to shorter gear ratios.

The steering response is similarly transparent, as direct as an unfiltered Marlboro, and the body follows with the agility of an Olympic bobsledder. Some of that purity of feeling is the result of addition through subtraction: Power-sapping elements including a hydraulic clutch and rear-axle steering were ditched, which also enabled the battery to be downsized for even more weight savings. The final result, with its carbon-fiber body panels, thinner glass, magnesium wheels, and reduced sound deadening, is the lightest 992-series variant on record, with roughly the same mass as the esteemed 911 R from 2016.

Driver engagement is further bolstered by the astounding crispness of the short-throw gearbox. The S/T fits hand in glove with narrow twisties and epic sweepers, or really any stretch that rewards mechanical grip and the ability to juke through hairpin corners. The cabin experience is slightly less raucous than the 911 R, but more raw than the wingless 911 GT3 Touring, with an intrusive clatter at idle due to the single-mass flywheel and featherlight clutch. Porsche cognoscenti will no doubt view the disturbance in the same way that hardcore Ducatisti revere the tambourine-like rattle of a traditional dry clutch: as an analog badge of honor.

The main bragging right, though, may just be owning one. In a nod to the year the 911 debuted, only 1,963 examples of the S/T will be built. Considering the seven-year-old 911 R started life at$295,000 and has since fetched upwards of $790,000, this new lightweight could bring proportionately heavy returns—if you can be pried from behind the wheel long enough to sell it, that is.

Images by Rossen Gargolov

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From Electric Surfboards to Biodegradable Golf Balls: 8 Eco-Conscious Yacht Toys for Green and Clean Fun

Just add water and forget the eco-guilt.

By Gemma Harris 18/10/2023

Without toys, yachts would be kind of sedentary. There’s nothing wrong with an alfresco meal, sunsets on the flybridge and daily massages. But toys add zest to life on board, while creating a deeper connection with the water. These days, there are a growing number of options for eco-friendly gadgets and equipment that deliver a greener way to play. These eight toys range from do-it-yourself-propulsion (waterborne fitness bikes) to electric foiling boards, from kayaks made of 100 percent recycled plastics to non-toxic, biodegradable golf balls with fish food inside. Your on-water adrenaline rushes don’t always have to be about noise and gas fumes. They can be fun, silent, and eco-conscious.

A game of golf isn’t just for land. Guests can play their best handicap from the deck with Albus Golf’s eco-friendly golf balls. The ecological and biodegradable golf balls are 100 percent safe for marine flora and fauna, and manufactured with non-contaminating materials. The balls will biodegrade within 48 hours after hitting the ocean and release the fish food contained in their core. For a complete golfing experience, add a floating FunAir green. From $3100 (FunAir Yacht Golf) and $315 a box (golf balls).

Fliteboard Series 2.0

The future of surf is electric, and Fliteboard offers an emissions-free and environmentally friendly electric hydrofoil. Flying over the water has never been as efficient and low impact, using new technologies with less than 750 watts of electric power. This second series boasts various performance factors for all riding styles. It also features an increased trigger range from 20 to 40 degrees for more precision and control. Fliteboard designed this series for every possible foiling ability, from newbies to wave-carvers. From $22,000.

Manta 5 Hydrofoiler XE-1

Hailing from New Zealand and using America’s Cup technology, Manta 5 offers the first hydrofoil bike. The Hydrofoiler XE-1 replicates the cycling experience on the water. Powered by fitness-level pedaling and assisted by the onboard battery, top speeds can reach up to 19 km per hour. The two hydrofoils are carbon fibre, and the frame is aircraft-grade aluminium. The onboard Garmin computer will relay all the stats. The effortless gliding sensation will accompany you through a workout, exploration or just circling the boat. From $950.

Mo-Jet’s Jet Board

Imagine five toys in one: The Mo Jet delivers just that. From jet surfing, bodyboarding, and e-foiling to scooter diving. This versatile, German-built toy is perfect for those who cannot decide. The Mo-jet uses a cool modular system allowing you to switch between activities. Whether you want to stand, be dragged around or dive, you can have it all. It even has a life-saving module and a 2.8m rescue electric surfboard. Made from environmentally friendly and recyclable polyethene, it also ticks the eco-conscious boxes. Complete with an 11kW electric water jet, it charges in 75 mins, offering up to 30 mins of fun. Adrenaline junkies will also not be disappointed, since speed surges from 0 to 27 knots in 3 seconds. From $18,000.

Silent Yachts Tender ST400

Driven by innovation and solar energy, Silent Yachts recently launched its first electric tender, the ST400. The 13-footer has clean-cut lines and is built with either an electric jet drive or a conventional electric outboard engine. The ST400 reaches speeds above 20 knots. From $110,000.

Osiris Outdoor ‘Reprisal’ Kayak

Kayaks are ideal for preserving and protecting nature, but they’re usually manufactured with materials that will last decades longer than we will and therefore not too eco-friendly. Founded by US outdoor enthusiasts, Osiris Outdoor has created a new type of personal boat. “The Reprisal” kayak is manufactured in the US entirely from recycled plastics (around 27 kgs) that are purchased from recycling facilities. The sustainable manufacturing process isn’t its only selling point; the lightweight Reprisals have spacious storage compartments, rod holders and a watertight hatch for gadgets. Complete with a matte-black finish for a stylish look. From $1100.

The Fanatic Ray Eco SUP Paddleboard

Declared as the most sustainable SUP, the Ray Eco is the brainchild of the Zero Emissions Project and BoardLab, supported by Fanatic. Glass and carbon fibre have been replaced with sustainable Kiri tree wood. And you can forget toxic varnishes and resins; organic linseed oil has been used to seal the board and maintain its durability. This fast, light, and stable board is truly one of a kind, not available off the rack. This craftsman’s love for detail and preservation is another first-class quality of the board. From $10,000

Northern Light Composite X Clean Sailors EcoOptimist

One of the most popular, single-handed dinghies in sailing’s history, the tiny Optimist has undergone a sustainable revival. Northern Light Composites and not-for-profit Clean Sailors have teamed up to launch the first sustainable and recyclable Optimist. Using natural fibres and eco-sustainable resins, The EcoOptimist supports a new circular economy in yachting. OneSail also produces the sail with a low-carbon-footprint manufacturing process. From $6000.

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The 50 Best Cocktail Bars in the World, According to a New Ranking

The World’s 50 Best organisation gave the Spanish bar Sips top honours during an awards ceremony in Singapore.

By Tori Latham 18/10/2023

If you’re looking for the best bar in the world, you better head to Barcelona.
Sips, from the industry luminaries Simone Caporale and Marc Álvarez, was named the No. 1 bar on the planet in the latest World’s 50 Best Bars ranking. The organisation held its annual awards ceremony on Tuesday in Singapore, the first time it hosted the gathering in Asia. Sips, which only opened two years ago, moved up to the top spot from No. 3 last year.
“Sips was destined for greatness even before it rocketed into the list at No. 37 just a few short months after opening in 2021,” William Drew, the director of content for 50 Best, said in a statement.
“The bar seamlessly translates contemporary innovation and technical precision into a playful cocktail programme, accompanied by the warmest hospitality, making it a worthy winner of The World’s Best Bar 2023 title.”
Coming in second was North America’s best bar: New York City’s Double Chicken Please. The top five was rounded out by Mexico City’s Handshake Speakeasy, Barcelona’s Paradiso (last year’s No. 1), and London’s Connaught Bar. The highest new entry was Seoul’s Zest at No. 18, while the highest climber was Oslo’s Himkok, which moved up to No. 10 from No. 43 last year.
Barcelona may be home to two of the top five bars, but London has cemented its status as the cocktail capital of the world: The English city had five bars make the list, more than any other town represented. Along with Connaught Bar in the top five, Tayēr + Elementary came in at No. 8, and Satan’s Whiskers (No. 28), A Bar With Shapes for a Name (No. 35), and Scarfes Bar (No. 41) all made the grade too.
The United States similarly had a good showing this year. New York City, in particular, is home to a number of the best bars: Overstory (No. 17) and Katana Kitten (No. 27) joined Double Chicken Please on the list.
Elsewhere, Miami’s Café La Trova hit No. 24 and New Orleans’s Jewel of the South snuck in at No. 49, bringing the Big Easy back to the ranking for the first time since 2014.
To celebrate their accomplishments, all of this year’s winners deserve a drink—made by somebody else at least just this once.
Check out the full list of the 50 best bars in the world below.
1. Sips, Barcelona
2. Double Chicken Please, New York
3. Handshake Speakeasy, Mexico City
4. Paradiso, Barcelona
5. Connaught Bar, London
6. Little Red Door, Paris
7. Licorería Limantour, Mexico City
8. Tayēr + Elementary, London
9. Alquímico, Cartagena
10. Himkok, Oslo
11. Tres Monos, Buenos Aires
12. Line, Athens
13. BKK Social Club, Bangkok
14. Jigger & Pony, Singapore
15. Maybe Sammy, Sydney
16. Salmon Guru, Madrid
17. Overstory, New York
18. Zest, Seoul
19. Mahaniyom Cocktail Bar, Bangkok
20. Coa, Hong Kong
21. Drink Kong, Rome
22. Hanky Panky, Mexico City
23. Caretaker’s Cottage, Melbourne
24. Café La Trova, Miami
25. Baba au Rum, Athens
26. CoChinChina, Buenos Aires
27. Katana Kitten, New York
28. Satan’s Whiskers, London
29. Wax On, Berlin
30. Florería Atlántico, Buenos Aires
31. Röda Huset, Stockholm
32. Sago House, Singapore
33. Freni e Frizioni, Rome
34. Argo, Hong Kong
35. A Bar With Shapes for a Name, London
36. The SG Club, Tokyo
37. Bar Benfiddich, Tokyo
38. The Cambridge Public House, Paris
39. Panda & Sons, Edinburgh
40. Mimi Kakushi, Dubai
41. Scarfes Bar, London
42. 1930, Milan
43. Carnaval, Lima
44. L’Antiquario, Naples
45. Baltra Bar, Mexico City
46. Locale Firenze, Florence
47. The Clumsies, Athens
48. Atlas, Singapore
49. Jewel of the South, New Orleans
50. Galaxy Bar, Dubai

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