International industrial super-designer Karim Rashid, who has designed over 4,000 creations, is opening on office in Israel through the Amos Bentzur & Co. law firm. Bentzur will be Rashid's representative worldwide in the first such venture for both parties.
Rashid, 56, was born in Egypt and lives in New York. He stayed in the Poli House Hotel in Tel Aviv, which he designed. Rashid, who has won hundreds of prizes, and whose name is linked to brands like Samsung, Audi, Veuve Clicquot champagne, Alessi, and hotels all over the world, says he admires Israel.
"Many of my clients are Jews, and they also include Israeli brands," he says. "I've done a fair number of projects here, and I feel that there's an opportunity to deepen the connections. I like your culture the people, and the innovation."
"Globes": Do you design only products for the luxury niche?
Rashid: "Not necessarily. There are luxury items, and there are also low-priced items. I have designed Hollandia mattresses, Sodastream International Ltd. (Nasdaq: SODA; TASE: SODA) bottles, and a hotel in Tel Aviv. I don't specialize in any particular area; I have no boundaries."
"Service is also design"
Rashid answer candidly when he is asked whether he regards himself as a brand. "I have a love-hate relationship with this definition," he admits. "On the one hand, it's flattering, because I have established myself and my name in the world through companies that affect large groups, from luxury products to bottles of water, vodka, and wine. On the other hand, I work from the soul, and I'm indifferent to trends."
Isn't the world of fashion based on trends?
"No. A trend is something that is limited in time, without vision. It's something that a designer borrows from someone else, as was the case with the baroque trend period, when they put chandeliers everywhere. It's embarrassing. I'm far more than the pink shade identified with me. I design according to the vision of the moment, but something will remain for the long term. In 2001, I designed a hotel in Athens that to this day you have to order three months in advance to get a room in it. I wouldn't change a thing in the design, except for technological improvements.
"A designer has to think functionally, how he is creating a better world, whether it's an office, hotel, postal service, furniture, or an airline. The goal is to think about the space, the experience, and the convenience. To seize the past, and take to the future and mark something in history."
Why does a post office have to be designed by Karim Rashid?
"Because in today's competitive world, if you don't design even an envelope for your brand, you won't win in the competition. For example, a brand like Apple wins in design; not necessarily a product, but an entire experience. Or Samsung - there are 15 companies producing identical television screens, some of them even at the same factory. Why do they eventually choose Samsung? Because the product is designed to be attractive. Service is also design, and what distinguishes companies in competitive fields is design."
There are areas in which the price is probably the design - in aviation, for example, where competition is fierce.
"I don't agree. Consumers are diverse, and there will always be different markets. In aviation, too, there is always a market willing to pay $5,000-10,000 for business class or first class ticket with a comfortable seat, better food served on a plate, and different service.
"But in tourist class or low-cost airlines, there is stronger competition. easyJet or its rival, Ryanair, where you buy a ticket for €40, but here, too, the design is what decides. The ability to do check-in easily on the website, for example, is the design I'm talking about. That's design and identity that it gives to a brand."
"Design your reputation"
According to Adv. Bentzur, the purpose of the agreement is to connect Rashid with big markets with which his firm has commercial ties, such as Turkey and Asian countries, and to develop initiatives in which Rashid's design abilities are combined with the development abilities of the companies in their fields, and with Israel innovation and brains.
"What interests us is Rashid's profound understanding of what is happening in the worlds of consumption and service. In Turkey, for example, we work closely with companies in medicine, retail, and media. When we told them about cooperation, their eyes lit up. He's an icon there, and they're already waiting for us to bring the first cooperation in both product design and a change in image and media.
"Our strong point is the direct connection with decision-makers in giant companies, and we'll take care to maintain our strength in places of production and development in which he can fit in. From the enthusiasm in Turkey alone, I realize how enormous the potential is."
Does Israel also interest you?
Bentzur: "Certainly, from the perspective of different retail business. We're considering opening a concept store for furniture items and home items that he designs. We considered cooperation with a large Israel business, and within two days, he sent a sketch exactly according to what was needed. The speed and ability to analyze the needs of companies are unknown territory for the local market, and you can add his name as a brand in itself to that."
Rashid, who has been visiting Israel for the past 13 years, explains why he chose an Israeli firm. "My expectation is that we'll do important projects for the Israeli market and the global market," he says. "You've got amazing ability here. Sweden, for example, is a country the same size as Israel, and I can name 15 brands from there on a huge global level. Israel can also do it."
In contrast to Sweden, Israel has a problem with its worldwide reputation.
Rashid: "So maybe you need to design and build your reputation. Many of my clients are Israelis and Jews. You have designed culture and art all over the world. You're making the world a better place, and there's not enough publicity and understanding of that.
"You have to get the religion from a lot of things to which Israel is linked. You have brains, high tech, innovation, and development – that's a side that you have to bring out to the world. You have to improve things and strengthen people's culture, and strengthen Tel Aviv as a leading tourist destination. It can be done."
Published by Globes [online], Israel Business News - www.globes-online.com - on March 19, 2017
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