Karim Rashid, 52, has created more than 3,000 designs, from interiors and furniture to lighting and art installations. His work is exhibited in museums across the world, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Centre Pompidou in Paris.
What was your earliest ambition?
I realised my life’s mission at the age of five in London. I went sketching with my father, drawing churches and buildings. I remember drawing a cathedral façade and deciding I did not like the shape of the gothic windows so I redesigned them – as ellipses.
University or straight into work?
I graduated in industrial design from Carleton University, Ottawa, in 1982.
Who were your mentors?
Ettore Sottsass and Rodolfo Bonetto, whom I studied under while doing postgraduate work in Milan.
I have exercised four to five days a week for the past 25 years. I run 7-10km a day, work with a trainer and eat organic food only.
Ambition or talent: which matters more to success?
I have always believed that if you work long and hard enough, you will have success, but if you work long and hard enough and you have talent then you will change the world.
Have you ever taken an IQ test?
Yes. I received a score of 125. I was thrilled with this number because every number in my life seems to add up to eight.
How politically committed are you?
I am committed to changing global politics, opening up the mindset of people, and creating one world where there are no borders, no boundaries.
Do you consider your carbon footprint?
I fly way too much. I buy carbon offsets for all my flights.
I have homes in New York, Miami Beach, Belgrade and Mexico.
What would you like to own that you don’t currently possess?
The less you have the freer you are.
What’s your biggest extravagance?
I’ve recently collected new artwork by Dalek, Caetano de Almeida, Peter Zimmermann, Gerold Miller, Martine Jansen, Julian Opie, Peter Halley and Victor Vasarely.
In what place are you happiest?
On stage giving a lecture or presenting new projects. My favourite escape is bed, where I love to draw, read and listen to music.
What ambitions do you still have?
I have so much I want to do: design an electric car, low-income housing, a museum, art galleries.
What drives you on?
It’s been my mission to make design a public subject. I believe it is extremely consequential to our daily lives and can positively change human behaviour.
What has been your greatest disappointment?
Being fired from Rhode Island School of Design in 1992. I was told I taught theory and not design.
If your 20-year-old self could see you now, what would he think?
He would be pleased that I am not designing ugly products in some dull company in some miserable small town, married with five screaming children.
If you lost everything tomorrow, what would you do?
I would start up again. I am proud to have built my career but losing everything would not deprive me of my passion to create.
Do you believe in assisted suicide?
Absolutely. No one should have to suffer.
Do you believe in an afterlife?
Yes. I hope I am reincarnated as a versatile rock star who sings, plays synth, saxophone, keyboards and drums.
If you had to rate your satisfaction with your life so far, out of 10, what would you score?
Six, but my goal is eight. Honestly, I feel like I am just starting. If it were 10, I might as well die.
Karim Rashid has designed a portable cocktail bar for auction at the Grey Goose Winter Ball to benefit the Elton John Aids Foundation, Saturday November 10.