One of the most famous—and least humble—designers working today, Rashid has applied his touch to thousands of products and dozens of spaces over the course of his career.
The son of an Egyptian father and English mother, Rashid was born in Cairo and raised in Canada. After picking up an industrial design degree in his native Ottawa, he moved to Milan for several years, later moving to the States when he landed a teaching job at the Rhode Island School of Design. In 1992 he packed his things and made his way to New York, where he slept on his brother's couch, taught part time at Pratt, and began pitching companies on his product design concepts. The early days weren't easy going, but in 1996 he hit pay dirt with the Garbo, a wastebasket made of colorful translucent plastic that he created for the housewares firm Umbra. Millions of units flew off the shelves and Rashid was off and running. He's now one of very few brand-name industrial designers in America thanks to his signature look—brightly-colored, amorphously-shaped everyday objects that usually sell at moderate price points.
The ever-ambitious Rashid has tackled just about every category under the sun. He designed a vacuum cleaner for Dirt Devil, a perfume bottle for Tommy Hilfiger, furniture for Edra, salt and pepper shakers for Nambe, packaging for Prada, door handles for Martinelli—even a manhole cover for Con Edison. He's dabbled in apartment design and crafted the looks of restaurants and hotels, and he's lent his sensibility to clothing, designing a line for Lacoste and men's and women's bathing suits for Arena. But it's not just Rashid's designs that made his reputation. He also happens to be one of the industry's most skillful self-promoters, as evidenced by his modestly-titled books: Karim Rashid: I Want to Change the World and Design Your Self—Rethinking the Way You Work, Live, Love and Play. The designer has made the requisite foray into reality TV, too—he starred in the short-lived USA Network inventor reality show, Made in the USA.
Rashid was formerly married to digital designer Megan Lang, but the couple divorced and Rashid has since tied-the-knot with Ivana Puric. [Image via Getty]