Apple’s next big thing? Designer says he’s working on ‘revolutionary’ product

April 13, 2012

A French designer has sparked a wave of new speculation after telling French media that he’s working on a “big project” with Apple.

Mac news site Hardmac happened to catch the remarks of designer Philippe Starck, who told the France-Info radio program that he is working on a “revolutionary” project with Apple that will result in a project in eight months.

Starck is known for his work in interior and consumer design, though Apple Insider notes that it he doesn’t appear to have worked with Apple before. Starck has worked with a technology company before on a high profile product, a 2004 mouse for Microsoft. To quote from The Post’s coverage of the product, which sold for $35 when it was released:

“A sample arrived this week in a silvery gray box. A lighted stripe down the middle -- blue or orange -- adds flair. But the intriguing aspect is not color, it’s the way the form harks back to something so familiar. The Starck mouse evokes the real furry creature, tail and all, with the iconic clarity of a child’s drawing.”

As the article by reporter Linda Hales notes, Starck designed the furniture in the Elysee office of Francois Mitterand, but failed to find success with a Target line of housewares. Another gem from the archives: “So far, Apple remains the only company designing computers so beautiful they have become objects of desire.”

Seems like a natural fit, then, especially given other comments in Starck’s interview that indicate he met regularly with Apple’s late co-founder Steve Jobs.

Speculation on what, exactly, Starck may be working on with Apple has been rampant, with many people speculating that he’s at work on the much-rumored Apple television or one of its accessories — a remote, a transmitter, etc. Starck could also, of course, be working on the next iPhone which some tech blogs say (and Apple fans hope) will have a completely new design. One analyst has said the new iPhone will have a sleek, unibody design which would work well with Starck’s aesthetic taste.

But most of the speculation has revolved around the possibility of a television, which analysts say could be a big hit for Apple.

ITG Investment Research analyst Joe Fersedi said in a report last month that over a third of consumers the firm polled would be willing to buy the television on brand alone. (Those polled had incomes of over $50,000 and were already in the market for a television.)

The hardware, of course, would not be the focus of an Apple TV, he said. To succeed, Apple will have to let the set be a “Trojan horse” for the company to insert itself into other TV markets — a.k.a. content. But if Apple is to make a device that will be the center of the living room, it will have to be well-designed and uniquely Apple. If anyone can do that, it’s the team of Jony Ive and Philippe Starck.

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Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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