Innovation: My Own Little Turbine

A personal wind turbine created by the French designer Philippe Starck has just been released. The 18-foot turbine, which resembles a giant rotating magnifying glass, debuted at Milan’s Greenergy Design show in March. Titled “Democratic Ecology,” it will provide 20-60% of a home’s energy needs. The Pramac Com-pany assisted Starck with the technical aspects of the design.

The designer turned heads in March 2008 when he announced his retirement after an illustrious 40-year career. In an interview in Die Zeit, a German weekly, Starck said he would quit designing within two years. “Design is really a terrible way to express oneself,” he said. “I have been a producer of materiality. I do feel ashamed for this. What I want to be instead now is a producer of concepts.” (English translation courtesy of the Mlle. A arts and technology blog,

The wind turbine marks a change from Starck’s past designs. His previous credits include consumer goods, furniture, restaurants and hotels, most recently the SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills in Los Angeles. The hotel boasts on its website that it is “rich on pleasure and comfort.”

The “Democratic Ecology” wind turbine represents a very different value aesthetic. On display at the Greenergy show, the giant magnifying glass turned inside a distorted cube printed with ecological declarations. As it rotated, the glass magnified statements like, “The more materiality there is, the less humanity.” At $633, the turbine is even relatively affordable. Comparable home turbines can cost thousands of dollars. This follows Starck’s vision for the future of design. “Elitism is vulgar,” he told Die Zeit. “The sole eloquence lies in multiplication.”