Laguiole Knife
France, 1986
Philippe Starck

Stainless steel and polished aluminum
½ x 7 x ½"

Phillipe Starck, the son of an aircraft designer, has been designing since the late 1960s when he worked for various companies including Pierre Cardin. He gained notoriety in the early 1980s when he was appointed to design a room in President Francois Mitterand’s quarters in the Élysée Palace. In 1984, he achieved international prominence, virtually overnight, with his design of the Café Costes and the Costes chair produced by Driade. Since then, he has continued to be regarded as a leader of contemporary French design. His works include full interiors, their furnishings, table-top wares in a variety of media, and utilitarian items such as juicers and toothbrushes. —Cooper Hewitt

Starck also worked as an architect, with many commissions in Japan. Although not as well known as his interiors and product design, his buildings also displayed the fluid lines and playful details for which his industrial designs were known. His best-known works are the Asahi Beer Hall (1990) in Tokyo, an austere, blocklike granite building topped with a bulbous orange shape resembling a flame, and the Unhex Nani-Nani office building (1989), also in Tokyo, which has been described as a biomorphic shed. In 1997 he received the Excellence in Design Award from the Harvard Graduate School of Design. —Britannica

(Photo: MoMA)