Philippe Starck: superstar designer and olive oil advocate

Excerpt of the article by Harriet Quick for the Financial Times supplement «How To Spend It». Photography by Alvaro Medina. Published APRIL 16 2022

© Alvaro Medina | Philippe Starck and Pedro Gómez de Baeza
© Alvaro Medina | Philippe Starck and Pedro Gómez de Baeza

When legendary designer Philippe Starck met Spanish investment banker Pedro Gómez de Baeza 30 years ago in Madrid they bonded through their quickfire, raucous sense of humour. The occasion was the opening of Starck’s transformation of a dilapidated old theatre into Teatriz, a restaurant with dramatic decor and an experimental menu.

“Madrid had seen nothing like it before. It helped transform the city into a destination,” says the vivacious Gómez de Baeza, who struck up a friendship with Starck and later holidayed with him in Mexico. 

“I remember we were by the coast with these huge pterodactyl-like birds flying overhead. We never exchanged one serious word, and made bad and good jokes endlessly,” says the 73-year-old Frenchman, who became a household name in the design-fanatic 1980s. “We now keep track of each other wherever we are.” Starck’s prolific output ranges from the Louis Ghost chair (Kartell, 2000) to electric bikes, yacht interiors and countless hotels across the globe, as well as domestic items such as his Juicy Salif lemon squeezer (Alessi, 1988), desk accessories and toothbrush holders.

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