Famed designer steps into the ‘Arena’ of fashion

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Famed designer steps into the ‘Arena’ of fashion


Karim Rashid may be a designer, but he was welcomed to Seoul like a rock star: A crowd of the young and the hip chowed down on sushi, olives and downed champagne at his March 7 launching party for Rashid’s new line of Arena swimsuit wear.
The launching party for the world-renowned designer’s new swimsuit line was an invitation-only event, organized by a local firm GD International, at the swank Te Home shop in Apgujeong-dong.
Te Home houses the “Karim Rashid Shop” where select items from Rashid’s vast collection of sleek clothing and home items are on sale until Friday. After Friday, the items will still be available online at GD International’s Kobalt Shop or on location at their Sinsa-dong store.
Born in Cairo to an Egyptian and an English parent, Rashid currently works in New York City and trots around the globe, showing off his 2,000 products, all innovatively designed ― be it a computer mouse, a restaurant, a pair of sunglasses or a graphics package.
One familiar design on display at Te Home was Rashid’s 1996 design for a plastic waste bin, more than $2 million worth of which have been sold since its introduction. Compared to the simple lines of the waste bin, Rashid’s ice bucket and tongs are far more eye-catching. Its blue lid sits on a metallic base in a way that is both artistic and functional, as it creates the perfectly icy but transformative feeling. It almost appears to be some sort of outer-space blender, but it’s a totally new take on an old concept. The bucket is not just functional ― it seems to radiate energy and enhances the overall aesthetic harmony of any room.
Rashid explained that he first became familiar with Korea and its culture from several of the Korean designers employed at his New York office. He called Korean designers “really top-notch.”
“I’ve learned that Koreans, like the Japanese, have a deep appreciation and sophistication for quality design and that was one of the things that attracted me to Korea,” he said. “It’s still hard to find a similar level of design in other Asian countries, like China.”
Rashid emphasizes a total environmental approach to design. He also said that after finishing a project, he creates a design representing the countries where the project was completed and gets that image tattooed on his body. For his project with Arena, he plans to use a design he already has for the English word “Soul.” He said that he thinks the tattoo design fits well for the city and will make only slight adjustments to it before he goes under the needle.
In reference to his more recent work with hotels and restaurants, Rashid commented on W Seoul, which he called a design success.
“But the 30- to 45-minute taxi ride every time you want to head out is a major inconvenience,” he said. “Seoul needs to have a small first-class boutique hotel located in a more central part of the city, like Cheongdam-dong or Apgujeong-dong. It would be great to be able to work on design for that kind of project.”
When asked about any future projects he would like to do in Korea, Rashid answered quickly, “I would love to totally redesign Korean Air’s logo and brand image.” Asked what Korean companies have caught his attention, he said he could imaging himself doing attractive projects with Samsung and LG Electronics, citing their reputation as leaders in the electronics industry.
Rashid explained that it is difficult to pinpoint any specifics on future projects in Korea because it is still difficult to acquire information and keep in contact with many Korean manufacturers.
It was Rashid’s second trip to Seoul; he visited here two years ago for a furniture fair and to participate in a housing showcase.

by Brett Stewart
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