On the heels of a widely reported interview in French publication Le Figaro, where famous French designer Philippe Starck said he had been tapped by Apple to create, in his words, a revolutionary product that would be unveiled in eight months, an Apple spokesman threw cold water on the claim, telling the technology blog AllThingsD that Apple and Starck were not collaborating on any new products. Starck may have been referring to a ultra-luxury yacht he had reportedly been designing for Steve Jobs, the report said.
In the Le Figaro interview, Starck let loose with just a few details and enough enticing language to wind up the rumor mills that seem to power half the Internet. “Actually, there’s a big project [we’re doing] together that will come out in eight months,” declared the designer in his program “Tout et son contraire” (Everything and its opposite).
On a more personal level, Starck also divulged a few details about his relationship with the Apple founder Steve Jobs. “For seven years, I went to see him once a month in Palo Alto and actually I’m going back there on Monday, because even though he is dead now, I’m going to see his wife, he said. We liked talking about interesting things together.”
Internet pundits immediately began speculating over what product Starck, who has previously created wireless speakers for the iPod and iPhone known as the Zikmu Parrot, was referring to. Some felt this collaboration might produce the long-awaited Apple TV, while others felt Starck was talking about an upcoming version of the iPhonethough the eight-month timetable would put the product unveiling outside the launch window most feel a new iPhone would debut in. It would, however, land just in time for the 2012 holiday shopping season.
Starck, who has worked independently as an interior designer and as a product designer since 1975, struck up a partnership with retail chain Target in 2002 to design more than 50 items (from baby monitors to tape dispensers) for budget-conscious shoppers, and has also designed external hard-drive enclosures for hardware manufacturer LaCie, an optical mouse for Microsoft, furniture, power-generating windmills and boutique hotels.
Apple is widely celebrated for the design finesse behind its products, from the ultra-thin MacBook Air to the iconic iPod music player and stylish, must-have iPad tablet. Among the master designers working for the company, Apple’s head of design, Jonathan Ive, a Brit, was just knighted. Ive, the winner of numerous awards including Worlds Smartest Designer by Forbes magazine and the National Design award, holds about 400 design patents and has helped design the iPod, iPhone and MacBook Air.