Almost Genius: Philippe Starck’s New Wind Turbine

Wind Turbine

We’ve been pretty hard on Philippe Starck, but, dammit, if he doesn’t deserve it. Fresh from telling a German newspaper that he was ashamed of the materialism his designs represent, Starck just unveiled a small wind turbine for the home. Which just might be the most pointless product he’s ever designed.

The Revolution Air, manufactured by Pramac, touts itself as a compact home turbine. With two or three blades, it’s designed to spin no matter what direction the wind is coming from. (That’s a novel, but not unheralded innovation; several companies have produced similar designs.) Prices will start at $3,500–cheap for a turbine

As Reuters reports, Starck explained the product thusly: “Energy should not be a punishment, we should create a desire [among people to produce it].” Meanwhile, RevolutionAir’s Web site is flooded with city scenes, plastered with graffiti saying, “The future is in the air.”

It’s true micro-scale wind energy is actually in wide use — GE has invested in it and Google has checked it out. But plenty of questions have been raised about its usefulness in cities. (Some have even dubbed doodads like wind turbines as “eco-bling”–the green equivalent of a gold-and-diamond “E.G.O.T.” pendant.) Many potential sites simply don’t get enough wind to justify the expense of a wind turbine. The American Wind Energy Association recommends at least an acre of property for best use, adding that people in 47 states have installed turbines. Still, couldn’t you make a far greener impact by simply weatherproofing your home?

The most ridiculous part of this whole thing, however, is Starck’s involvement. Who, exactly, would care that Philippe Starck designed a wind turbine? Design-conscious urbanites, perhaps? Precisely the people who’d get the least use out of a wind turbine?

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