PROFILEmiami had the exclusive opportunity to tour with Paraiso Bayviews with Karim Rashid, the newest Miami condo in Edgewater by the design and interior icon who has designed projects throughout the world. Karim’s mark on a project is evident throughout the property, morphing straight lines with contemporary shape, mixed with color to make his designs some of the most progressive with livability. Throughout the tour, Karim’s attention to detail was evident with everything from the high-design furniture from his collections, to the layout of the space to the execution of construction. Get inside scoop on what drives Karim’s style, inspiration and working with Related Group and Jorge Perez.
PM: Lets start with your background. How did you get started in design? What early project do you think helped shape your career and style to where you are today?
KR: My father encouraged me to explore the arts and be a pluralist! He was a creative renaissance man – I saw him create furniture, make dresses for my mother, paint canvases, design sets for television and film, etc. We were brought up in an extremely inspiring context that gave me great respect for all of the arts.
I was torn between studying architecture, interior design and fashion but ended up studying in Industrial Design at Carleton University in Ottawa Canada. After university I went to a one year graduate program in design in Italy studying with Gaetano Pesce and Ettore Sottsass. Then I did a one year internship in Milano and I also took night classes with Achille Castiglione at the Polytechnic and I interned with Rodolfo Bonetto over a year, designing TVs for Brionvega, task lamps for i-guzzini coffee machine for La Cimbali, dashboards for Fiat. These projects really helped me enter the world of design.
On my return to Canada I worked in the best design office in Toronto for Kuypers Adamson Norton. There I really learned my craft. I designed X-ray machinery, train interiors, electric tools, exhibitions, products and interiors.
Then I went into being a full-time Academic and stopped designing for 2 years because I was frustrated creatively with industrial design. I was part time teaching at University of Toronto furniture design and teaching interior design at OCAD then I loved to the USA to Rhode Island school of Design (RISD) to be a full time associate professor. Then I was going to quit the profession in 1992 when I was fired from RISD. I was told I was teaching ‘philosophy and theory’, not design.
Then in 1993 I found myself in New York City penniless and started drawing objects romanticizing about the beautiful world I always wanted to shape. When I started my office, after approaching about 100 companies from Lazy boy to Gillette, I only got one client. That was 25 years ago!
PM: What drives your inspiration?
KR: Beautifying the world. I always found myself having more ideas, than companies could ever produce. I perpetually observe and analysis and dissect everything around me in our built environments. I am most creative when I meet and talk to a client that is determined to do something new or original or inspiring. I'm contributing as much as I can while I am on this planet. Any work I do must have a least some nuance of originality in it. So I strive for that in a collaboration. It is important to me that the result of my work, and my collaboration with a client, manifest into something that will connect with the user, and sustain relationships with the consumer. By being my own consumer I can stay connected to that essence.
PM: How did you get started designing real estate? What were some of your first projects?
KR: The first realized interior I designed was for Morimoto the Iron Chef in 2001 (Philadelphia) which fortunately won many awards. Being a successful restaurant interior afforded me many more interior projects including the Semiramis hotel in Athens in 2002. I moved on to do many more hotels for NH Hotels, Prizeotel, Radisson, and retail and restaurants for MGM, Shops for Agatha Ruiz de la Prada, Fun Factory, Bosco di Ciliegi, and many more. My first condominium projects were with HAP investments in NYC. The projects were my philosophy about creating democratic affordable yet highly designed progressive habitats for contemporary living.
Twenty years later it’s still a challenge to be recognized as a designer that can create condominiums. I am perceived as an industrial designer and someone who has worked in hospitality design – but MyBrickell and my relationship with Related and HAP has been a breakthrough for me. Now I am designing a shopping mall in Saudi Arabia and a hospital in Israel , a condominium in Moscow as well as other global projects.
PM: How do you like designing in Miami as opposed to other American cities? What about on a global scale?
KR: The core of the Miami lifestyle is a positive sprit and energetic yet relaxing feeling. The city has such a beautiful color palate full of lightness, with amazing climate, and progressive clientele. There is such a sense of freedom in Miami. When I’m in that space I feel free. I love designing in Miami and in countries that love design, color, and contemporaneity
PM: You mentioned that you designed MyBrickell at the end of the past cycle. Tell us the story behind that job.
KR: I see MyBrickell as a statement for more democratic buildings with accessible price points for the mass, and yet super designed, energetic, and very positive, that afford great elevated experiences for domestic life. Design is for everybody, not just the elite and in that respect I believe MyBrickell was a first in North America.
Of course after the real estate bubble everyone was nervous about opening the first Miami tower in 7 years. I think the design and renderings that were launched at the opening party sold the building out in 22 days. After that the ground was broken 4 months later. The presale being so quick was a guarantee and Related then believed in me that my name, my work, and my passion could shape success together.
PM: How did you become involved at Paraiso Bayviews?
KR: After the success of Mybrickell Jorge Pérez asked me to design another condominium for Related. I was ecstatic. The collaboration with Architectonica is also a seamless one.
PM: I love the curves throughout the property from the lobby when you walk in to the spa, you even changed the shapes of the pools, what feel were you trying to evoke?
KR: Well thank you. I define my work as Fluid, Organic, Sensual, Human yet Essential. All objects and spaces have semantic language. They speak to us. Certain organic forms, line’s, colors, textures, functions, all touch and communicate to our senses and our daily experiences. I believe that it is important to not necessarily over-embellish- to keep a certain truth to a product or space, but I also believe that objects and spaces need to touch our sensual side, touch our emotions, they need to elevate a certain experience, and they need to be human.
PM: What do you want residents to experience as they use their condo and common areas?
KR: I hope they will experience the luxury of good democratic design, and by that I mean free time, seamless experiences, less hassle, less waiting. We must let go of old ideas of luxury and really create new aesthetics, new forms, new material, new languages that are more seamless and attune with the world we live in now. I believe that everything physical that is new should comment or reflect and embrace the Digital age in one way or another, be it a production method, a new material, or a Digital language, a new way of living. Our homes should embrace new beautiful forms, colors, and finishes, the latest technology, highest safety, the best comfort, the greatest efficiency, and a language and sensibility of the time in which I live.
The project is designed to embrace two major factors of our contemporary world; one is nature, and I am using its' inspiration in a fluid organic yet abstract way to ’shape’ the spaces and human experiences. Second is the 'digital age' where the individual is empowered creatively and politically. The digital age has created a new global democracy, increased and elevated our sensibilities, our aesthetics, and our experiences. The price points of edge water are super high designed luxury for democratic prices. I want the sense of the apartments in general to be elevated, at the same time I want people to feel inspired. It will be a sustainable and ecological project but still speaks about digital time in which we live. Related gave up the idea of building penthouses to create a space for everyone which is quite democratic with several pools and fantastic amenities. No matter where you live in building you have fantastic pool on roof and great facilities, hence a more elevated pleasurable domestic life.
PM: You are very meticulous down to even the TV's, what is the process you take when designing a project?
KR: I am very attentive to all details of a project. Maybe because I started designing at a human scale in industrial design so it taught me to worry about the human experience. Every project is different and usually the design process is different as well. It is my diversity that affords me the ability to cross-pollinate ideas, materials, behaviors, aesthetics and language from one typology to the other. I fill sketch books with my concepts and then I bring my designs back to the studio. It is imperative to start with the concept then develop a form around it. One can think sculpturally and conceptually of the idea. My team creates 3D renders of my ideas, as well as research materials, production processes and I never forget that the end result must be some improvement on the architype.
PM: What are your signature elements that you leave as the mark of a Karim Rashid design?
KR: I don’t think of trying to leave signature elements. I just see every project with similar aspirations. Firstly to create an elevated human experience, secondly to connect our digital age with the physical world, thirdly to trigger our emotions and make more seamless humanized spaces and objects, lastly to inspire people, to try and make life better, to improve our world and shape a better life. Hence it could be a hair dryer I am designing or a building or a pair of shoes or an airplane, the agenda is always the same. Shape a more interesting better world for humankind.
PM: What do you have in store for Miami in the future?
KR: Right now I do not have any projects in Miami to my regret. I would love to do a building in Miami, a hotel (maybe even a crazy progressive budget hotel) another condominium or an art piece to sit on the city or a retail shop, the list is endless. I am even contemplating opening up my office in Miami.
About Karim Rashid:
Karim Rashid is one of the most prolific designers of his generation over 3000 designs in production, over 300 awards and having worked in over 40 countries. His award winning designs include luxury goods for Christofle, Veuve Clicquot, and Alessi, democratic products for Umbra, Bobble, and 3M, furniture for Bonaldo and Vondom, lighting for Artemide and Fontana Arte, high tech products for Asus and Samsung, surface design for Marburg and Abet Laminati, brand identity for Citibank and Sony Ericsson and packaging for Method, Paris Baguette, Kenzo and Hugo Boss.
Karim’s has also designed interiors for projects such as such as the Morimoto restaurant, Philadelphia; Semiramis hotel, Athens; nhow hotel, Berlin; Universita Metro Station, Naples; Paraiso Bayviews, Miami; MyBrickell, Miami, Temptation Resort & Spa, Mexico; and Switch Abu Dhabi; amongst others.
Karim’s work is featured in 20 permanent collections and he exhibits art in galleries world wide. Karim is a perennial winner of the Red Dot award, Chicago Athenaeum Good Design award, I. D. Magazine Annual Design Review, IDSA Industrial Design Excellence award.