Design guru sets up trend-spotting consultancy The Key

LONDON - Philippe Starck, the designer famous for sleek interiors such as the St Martin's Lane Hotel, is setting up a new consultancy called The Key, which will help companies to spot new trends and build brands.

The Key is being set up by Starck and Romain Hatchuel, former CEO of the Cannes International Advertising Festival.

It aims to work with large corporations from Europe, the US and Asia, working on trend spotting, strategic vision, brand architecture, product design and communications such as buzz marketing.

Starck takes the role of chief vision officer and Hatchuel will be chairman and CEO of the new company.

According to Starck: "I have often been asked to design the future of entire companies rather than just their products, and for me this is by far the most interesting exercise. With this new company we will be able to do just that, and help our clients remain leaders in their respective industries or recapture lost momentum. We will do this in very innovative ways that will produce fast and tangible results."

Starck has left his mark on design in almost every aspect of life, from interiors of hotels in major cities, including the Hudson in New York and the Delano in Miami, to orange juice squeezers, bins and packaging for food. Most recently he joined with Puma to design a new range of trainers.

Hatchuel is the son of the Cannes festival founder Roger Hatcheul. He held the role of CEO of the festival until February 2001 when he left to join Euro RSCG Worldwide as business development director, a post he left after less than two years in October 2003. He has also worked for Paris-based transportation company Saga, where he was sales and marketing director, and started his career in advertising at publisher CB News Group.

"I've known Philippe for a while and I've always been impressed not only by his ability to create some of the most appealing products and places in the world, but most importantly by the fact that he has managed to remain on top of the newest trends for more than 20 years," Hatchuel said.

He added that he saw Starck as a visionary, someone who is more than a cool designer.

"His unique talent will be instrumental in making this thing as successful as we think it will be," Hatchuel said.

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