Philippe Starck : “Tara allies elegance and integrity”

© Mattias Ormestad/Tara Oceans

The renowned French designer – architect of many pioneering creations, reveals his visionary’s spirit, his love for the ocean, and his support for Tara. Confessions in a state of emergency.

What does Tara mean to you?

Every human action naturally has a negative and a positive side. We’ve become accustomed to this idea, and accept it as if there must always be a price to pay. I’m looking for projects that escape this unfortunate balance. Tara is one of the rare examples where everything is positive; everything is beneficial to humanity, with no negative counterpart. Such a situation is rare enough that Tara deserves to exist just for that. Tara’s work as discoverer, pioneer, analyzer, synthesizer, whistleblower and leader is vital. Every human action should be of this order. Tara functions beautifully, with a form of discreet elegance that manifests strength. If all human projects were of this quality, and were structured like Tara, we would no longer be in a state of emergency.

You are a member of the Tara support committee. You say that Tara is « working to save us », that « Tara is vital ». You get hundreds of requests and solicitations every day. Why did you decide to support Tara?

Indeed, from my personal observation tower I get to see a wide variety of projects and actions. If I reject 95% of these, it’s because they’re primarily motivated by greed and lack of consciousness. This appalling reality obliges us to support – in whatever ways we can – actions like Tara. Also, it’s always nice when actions are not punishments, when we can combine necessity and passion. Being amphibian in nature, living on the water all the time, and being a man – or rather a couple of sea buffs – my wife Jasmine and I could only be attracted to the Tara herself – a beautiful and intelligent boat. At a time when 90 % of boat production is focused on showing off peoples’ social status, it’s great to see that Tara combines elegance with integrity.

Do you see a link between your desires in design and architecture, and the need to protect the oceans – their biodiversity and ecosystems?

You don’t have to be a designer or architect to understand the absolute urgency and necessity of safeguarding the oceans and everything they comprise. In fact, it was Etienne Bourgois who gave me the key that opened the door to this awareness: « One out of every two breaths comes from the ocean. » Being somewhat claustrophobic, that really spoke to me.

Tara will travel to Asia and the Pacific in 2015 and 2016. You are familiar with that part of the world. Do you think Tara can help transmit the crucial messages?

Asia is vast and diverse. Some countries have entered a post-emergent phase and have officially recognized the problem and taken action towards the survival of the oceans. Others are still involved in the dazzle and incoherence of development. Obviously these countries will someday take action, but for the health of the planet, every minute counts. Tara’s message is clear enough to make some people accelerate their understanding, and save what still remains to be saved.

Have the forms of plankton discovered by Tara’s scientific teams inspired you as a designer?

The infinite variety and fabulous richness of plankton is certainly a lesson for a producer of forms and colors like me. Plankton is a master at creating. But beyond this, I realized – thanks to Tara – my responsibility as a producer of objects, mostly plastic, and the harmfulness of this plastic for the survival of plankton. I would like to be in a position to pass laws requiring plastic to be biocompatible. Plastic could even become food for plankton.  From what I know, nothing is unrealistic about this proposal. Some of the most interesting bio-plastics are made from algae.  The link seems obvious and easy, but only an obligation by governments would make it feasible. This may be part of the solution. The real solution, the one and only question, which is becoming increasingly vital: Should we adopt a negative level of economic growth? Would this be positive or negative for the planet?

Interview by Michel Temman

 

 A lucid creator

Maybe it’s because his father–an engineer and inventor–designed airplanes that the young Philippe Starck sprouted wings to fly towards new horizons, both physical and metaphysical. Winner of countless awards and honors, this master of contemporary change, author of thousands of projects and iconic objects, never hesitates to shake people up to raise their awareness. He likes to « open the doors of the human brain » with the hope of making life more beautiful for the greatest number of people. « Subversive, ethical, ecological, political, fun: That’s how I see my job as designer. » This enthusiastic and lucid earthling, lover of the sea, today more than ever believes in « democratic ecology.»

 

Related items:

- “Plastic? No thank you!” An interview of agnès b. during the Tara Mediterranean expedition. 

- Exhibition “The Secret World of Plankton”.

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