Studio Philippe Malouin: the first ten years

Design Parade presents an exhibition of this Montreal-born designer's work. It's an opportunity to admire his method.

Philippe Malouin

Design Parade has a yearly tradition of organising an exhibition on the work of its jury president, a different person for each instalment. Design Parade (founded in 2006) is a festival held in Hyères and contemporaneously also in Toulon (since 2016), where the event is more centred on interior architecture. This time, the British–Canadian designer Philippe Malouin was appointed to be the jury president and guest of honour. Precisely ten years ago, he opened his design office in London, so it was a good opportunity to look back on his work. Curator Maria Cristina Didero writes in her critical text how “it could be seen as a sequence of episodes, comprised not only of a thoughtful and distinctive path, but also featuring a precise approach to design. As a whole, it clearly reveals a theoretical and tangible consistency – which is not an easy goal to achieve.”

The display, designed by Julian Komosa, includes Malouin's inflatable Grace table, which he presented for his 2008 graduation at the Design Academy Eindhoven. It seats ten people, and can be stowed away in a bag when not in use. More recent objects are the wall–mounted modular system Place for Marsotto Edizioni and the Group chair for SCP. For Design Parade, the designer also created a new body of work called Non Lights These are faintly glowing nooks carved into walls or surfaces, and inspired by textures he found throughout the French Riviera. Villa Noailles, where the Design Parade in Hyères is held, hosted an encounter with Malouin during which he explained the key elements of his work. One of them is the use of stop-motion video to communicate with clients. “It's an effective way to present an idea,” he says, and shows the one he made for the Speed of Light installation presented at the 2016 Design Miami fair: a ball–shaped lamp glides over a roller–coaster frame suspended above the street.

Another principle he employs is the application of manufacturing methods on materials unsuited to them. See his containers made in thermal paper, the type used for receipts. Shown at the 2011 Vienna Design Week, “these are objects that were never taken into production, but purely made as studies, something we love to do,” says Malouin. He illustrates how one idea can lead to another with Time Elapsed, a gigantic brass spirograph built for the crystalware company Lobmeyr, which was inspired by a bag of rice spilling on the floor. Things aspiring to be something else is shown by the Mollo armchair for Established & Sons, for which the polyurethane foam from one Ikea mattress was rolled up and bent.

“Shape comes later. It is not designed first,” he says. His predilection for experimentation is evident. "Study for Screens" was a research installation for Hem, shown in New York City during the nycXdesign initiative last year. “We enjoy taking our time with these studies, because even mistakes can lead to discoveries. All our ideas are tested in the studio first.” However, time for the screen study was short, only ten days, so what did he do? “We relocated to New York ten days before the exhibition in order to manufacture as many screens as we could.”

Nothing is left to chance. “Malouin not only thinks outside the box. He also thinks about the box,” says Didero.

Philippe Malouin. 10 years
Exhibition dates:
28 June – 30 September 2018
Villa Noailles
Montée Noailles 83400 Hyères
On the occasion of:
Design Parade

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