6 things you might not know about award-winning designer Karim Rashid

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US-Canadian Karim's designs feature in 20 permanent collections in various art institutions around the world. Photo: AFP

Honoured with the American Prize For Design – one of the most prestigious awards in the discipline in the United States – last week was New York-based designer Karim Rashid. Notwithstanding his prolific career and numerous professional accolades, he is not that well-known to the general public.

Here is a list of some key facts:

1. He started life in Egypt

Born in Cairo in 1960, the future superstar designer was raised in England and Canada. Now based in New York, he is the brother of architect Hani Rashid.

2. He's the prince of plastic

"Plastic has always been important to me. I saw it as the lively, energetic material of all materials. It was the glossy one, the smooth one, the transparent one, the glowing one, the soft and touchy one, the recyclable one, the fluid liquid solid, and the lightweight material that I, as a young child, naively knew was the material of our contemporary world."

3. Karim Rashid in figures

At age 60, Karim has produced 59 graphic designs, 46 fashion pieces, 306 furniture projects, 34 buildings, 71 lighting designs, 27 hotels, 232 household products, 76 packaging projects, 19 residential designs, 35 architectural materials projects, 102 interiors and 93 exhibitions. More than 3,000 objects in total.

4. He's something of a phrase maker

Karim has described himself as "design pervert, cultural shaper, poet of plastic, digipop rockstar." The New York designer has also defended the practice of not paying interns, arguing that young designers can learn more from working in a studio than from studying in a fee-paying university.

5. He studied under Italian grand masters of design

Karim pursued post-graduate studies in Italy under Ettore Sottsass, the founder of the Memphis Group, as well as Alessandro Mendini and Rodolfo Benetto. The influence of these last two Italians, who were renowned for their boldly coloured creations, is clearly evident in his works.

6. A designer recognised by his peers

Karim's designs feature in 20 permanent collections in various art institutions around the world, including the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the MoMA, the Chicago Athenaeum and the Centre Pompidou in Paris.

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