Imagine feeling sexy while vacuuming in a completely non-June Cleaver kind of way. Cairo-born and New York-based designer Karim Rashid – with his streamlined cordless cone-shaped design for Dirt Devil- has made that possible. With the clean lines and smooth curves of this minimalist metallic design, vacuuming suddenly seems appealing.

A well-respected and award-winning designer in the fields of product, interior, fashion, furniture, lighting design and art, Rashid has brought his distinctly futuristic vision to more than 2,500 products and venues. Beyond Dirt Devil, Rashid has designed for a wide array of companies including Prada, Alessi, Lacoste, Timex, Yahoo, Umbra, Target and Toyota. In addition to his product designs, Rashid has written design books and his noncommercial work is currently on display in museums worldwide, including the Museum of Modern Art and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

For Prada, Rashid created packaging for its latest skincare line that appears bright and sterile – for Alessi bold color blocked plastic watches, for Lacoste a limited edition version of its classic cotton polo featuring a large neon gator and jagged trim. For Umbra, Rashid designed bestselling and award-winning black-and-white plastic office chairs for comfort and style. Named “the poet of plastic” by Time Magazine, Rashid takes what could be a mundane item-such as a chair or a vacuum and makes it art pushing companies to the future of appearance.

His designs are playful featuring bold colors and geometric shapes toying with mod and space age themes. Rashid proves that you can be innovative as an artist while still maintaining a business sensibility. His works are sleek and functional reflecting the need for convenience while never failing to appeal to contemporary fashion sense.

“This is the business of beauty. Every business should be completely concerned with beauty – it is after all a collective human need,” Rashid writes in the “Karimanifesto” featured in his website.

In this manifesto, Rashid also expresses a disdain for all things nostalgic, wishing that all people would accept and live in the “modus of our time, to participate in the contemporary world.”

Today at the College for Creative Studies, in collaboration with Detroit-based fashion and design magazine Clear, Rashid will speak on his design philosophy and vision in an open lecture sponsored by a grant from the Toyota Foundation. Rashid’s experience is especially relevant to students interested in becoming involved in the design, fashion or entertainment.

More than a designer, Rashid markets himself as an engaging and flamboyant personality. Following the lecture, Rashid will take on his alter ego “DJ Kreemy” and spin beats at the MOCAD for a night of drinking, dancing and conversing that is also open to the public.

While Detroit may not seem like a great draw for a designer of Rashid’s caliber, Clear magazine events manager Dan Soryl explained that while often overlooked, Detroit is a design capitol with a hold on one thing that no other city truly has: the auto industry,

“Detroit is the epicenter for automotive design and we’re trying to hold on to that title,” Soryl said. “There are a lot of forces going against that these days and we’re trying to bring more designers here.”

Aware that Karim Rashid is sure to draw quite a crowd, Soryl said he expected the throng of attendees to reflect the reputation associated with CCS, Clear magazine and MOCAD – “a pretty artsy and polished crowd,” while bringing in new designers.

Toyota Lecture on Design with Karim Rashid
Today at 4 p.m.

At the College for Creative Studies in Detroit


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