At the Desk Of: Karim Rashid

Known for soft shapes and bright colors, the designer is surrounded
by objects he dreamed up

Jan.January 02, 2015 01:00 PM
Karim Rashid

Karim Rashid (Photo: Max Dworkin)

Karim Rashid is not like other designers. While his colleagues and peers often dress in all black, Rashid prefers all white — reminding him of a blank canvas — or in pink, which he says is “our only controversial color” that exudes “positive energy.” Similarly, Rashid’s sunlight-infused office on West 54th Street is unlike that of other architects. He sits on the second floor mezzanine of one of the city’s most eccentric and colorful workspaces — when he’s in town, at least. Rashid travels often; he works in 44 countries, and is currently designing 11 projects around the world. In New York, he is best known for his work with HAP in Harlem. He said he runs between three and six miles a day as “a way to deal with stress.” And while he loves watching movies, especially science fiction, he abides by one rule while picking out which films to watch: “Don’t watch movies older than you are.” Rashid recently took The Real Deal on a tour.

portraitCoffee mug
Rashid drinks a lot of coffee, and almost always from this cup, which he designed for Danish brand BoConcept. The cup is adorned with a sketch of the Manhattan skyline.

He drew this outline of his wife Ivana’s face for the icing on the birthday cake celebrating her 33rd birthday. “I like to draw,” Rashid said. For her 34th birthday, Rashid designed a new pattern.

This piece, which used to be in Rashid’s living room at home, was made in 1981 by his mentor, designer Ettore Sottsass, part of a collection called “Memphis.” It moved into his office after his daughter, Kiva, was born and it was judged not baby-proof.

As a 19-year-old student in the 1980s, Rashid designed this lamp for a school project. About three years ago, he found the 32-year-old sketch and sent it over to Artemide. The lighting company went for it and the lamp went into production. It wasn’t until the design was accepted that Rashid shared the story of the lamp’s origin.

While most objects in Rashid’s life get replaced by a new version (he has a strict “addition by subtraction” policy), he has used the same wallet, which he designed for Acme, for the last 10 years. The wallet has a white background, which goes well with the vast majority of Rashid’s outfits.

About 120 colored Faber-Castell pencils sit on Rashid’s desk, which he uses every day to draw. Rashid has around 480 additional pencils at his apartment. “I’m fortunate to spend most of my day drawing,” he said.

Pen and business 
card holder
The colorful pen and business card holder are new and about to be brought to market by Acme. If successful, the line may be expanded.

blue-shoesBlue shoes
These shoes, a gift from an Italian designer, are made of wood and metallic leather. “Aren’t they bizarre?” Rashid asked. They’re on display in the office but he has never worn them.

Knowledge in the 
Rashid designed this bookend, one half of a set, for a Danish company in 2011. “I just think it’s a nice sculpture,” Rashid said. “I like having something figurative on my desk.”

Post-it holder
This Post-it holder — two of which are on Rashid’s desk — was designed for 3M. “I like things to remind me of worry stones,” Rashid said.

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