CONVERSATION

Philippe Malouin: Unlabeled creativity

issue #37: Unlabeled creativity

The Diary of Philippe Malouin – an eclectic designer who ranges from industrial design, collectible design to installations – reflects on how a creative individual can be free to move fluidly across disciplines, without having to worry about being ‘”defined”. Welcome to Caleido, the Kaleidoscopic Observatory on the world of creativity / Read the Editor’s letter here.

Philippe Malouin: Unlabeled creativity
Ph. Omar Sartor
1. Your designer profile stands out for the ability to move fluidly across various creative disciplines, embracing projects in industrial design, installations and much more. This versatility reflects a boundaryless creative vision that explores the multiple facets of art and design. Has this fluidity always been understood? How does this expressive complexity converge and synthesize in a project for a company?

I believe that, nowadays, training in design allows one to embrace many fields. A recent graduate will be able to take quality photography, possess basic graphic design skills, build models and prototypes, write essays, edit videos, etc. These are tools to “survive”: when a design student graduates, he or she must take whatever job is offered. When I graduated, I had the chance to start working on different projects ranging from installations to gallery work, to assisting designers. I was not given the opportunity to work exclusively on product design (which makes up 95% of my business). Most furniture brands do not commission young designers to design for them. This is why you have to take any job that is offered to you in order to make money and survive. Unless you are independently wealthy, you cannot just do one thing. At the same time, this allows a designer to move fluidly between “practices”. And this is a big reason why I am comfortable across disciplines.

Philippe Malouin: Unlabeled creativity
@philippemalouin
Philippe Malouin: Unlabeled creativity
Ph. Simon171 | cc-tapis
Philippe Malouin: Unlabeled creativity
@philippemalouin
Philippe Malouin: Unlabeled creativity
@philippemalouin
Philippe Malouin: Unlabeled creativity
@philippemalouin
2. In this regard, is there something you would like to design but haven’t approached yet?

I would like to have the opportunity to design a house, but I am not an architect. Perhaps a collaboration with an architect could make this wish of mine come true. I would love to choose the components of a house based on their function, performance, and, most importantly, availability. This orientation is reflected in @eamesoffice case-study house in Los Angeles. It is a direction I would like to explore if I am ever given the opportunity to design a dwelling.

Philippe Malouin: Unlabeled creativity
@philippemalouin
Philippe Malouin: Unlabeled creativity
@philippemalouin
Philippe Malouin: Unlabeled creativity
@philippemalouin
Philippe Malouin: Unlabeled creativity
@philippemalouin
3. You manage to combine minimalism with a richness of intriguing details and complexity. Your works often feature clean lines and geometric shapes, enriched by details that stimulate curiosity and offer a visually and tactically engaging experience. What is your decision-making process in balancing simplicity and elaboration in your projects?

I think that the expression “as little design as possible” holds true always. I believe that clean lines and simple aesthetics are very important, because when designing objects or furniture following trends, products tend to quickly look dated. On the other hand, I believe that a product or furniture should evoke an emotion when the user comes into contact with it. Therefore, in my work I try to identify concepts that evoke a nostalgic reaction or a reinterpreted stimulus.

Philippe Malouin: Unlabeled creativity
@philippemalouin
4. If you could collaborate with an artist or designer from the past, who would it be and why?

I would love to collaborate with @donaldjuddfurniture, his pursuit of perfection and clean geometric lines has always fascinated me. I am also a big fan of @sterlingruby, I find his focus on color and constant elements of surprise really interesting.

Philippe Malouin: Unlabeled creativity
@philippemalouin
Philippe Malouin: Unlabeled creativity
@philippemalouin
5. Can you describe your home in 5 words? What is the feeling you experience/seek when you enter? What is a small ritual that belongs to you, related to your home?

My home is: Victorian, imperfect, bright, fun, comfortable. I can’t say that I had a “master plan” in creating the experience, it just happened over time. My home is filled with plants, presents from friends and design pieces I always wanted. My ritual is to simply make a nice meal at home.

Philippe Malouin: Unlabeled creativity
@philippemalouin
Philippe Malouin: Unlabeled creativity
@philippemalouin
6. Your career has spanned from small-scale projects to monumental installations. What is the mental approach when transitioning from one scenario to another?

As I said, I think a background in industrial design can definitely help to have this openness. In a certain way, everything is a product. The only thing that changes is the scale. When you have this in mind, you just apply the same principles you do designing a product to a large scale installation. It should be simple, sober in appearance, well-manufactured, of high quality, fun, and evoke an emotion.

Philippe Malouin: Unlabeled creativity
@philippemalouin
Philippe Malouin: Unlabeled creativity
@philippemalouin
Philippe Malouin: Unlabeled creativity
@philippemalouin
Philippe Malouin: Unlabeled creativity
@philippemalouin
7. Would you describe yourself as a solitary person, or do you enjoy social relationships? When do you feel the need to retreat? What is your favorite place to do so?

I consider myself somewhere in between. I need to be in contact with people to exchange ideas or solve problems. I like to work alone, but when it comes to discussing the nature of a project, I love to brainstorm with my friend @sachaleong or the client who commissioned the work.

Philippe Malouin: Unlabeled creativity
@philippemalouin
Philippe Malouin: Unlabeled creativity
@philippemalouin
Philippe Malouin: Unlabeled creativity
@philippemalouin
Philippe Malouin: Unlabeled creativity
@philippemalouin
Philippe Malouin: Unlabeled creativity
@philippemalouin
Philippe Malouin: Unlabeled creativity
@philippemalouin
Philippe Malouin: Unlabeled creativity
@philippemalouin
8. A distinctive feature of your work is meticulous attention to materials and techniques. Your continuous exploration of new materials and innovative use of emerging technology contribute to creating works that go beyond form and function, challenging conventions and opening new expressive possibilities. Is there a product you are proud of but feel hasn’t been fully understood, in your opinion?

Thank you, you are very kind to say, I don’t know if my work goes “beyond form and function.” But I try to make simple, consciously made, high quality projects so that they are not thrown in the trash a little while after being purchased. I am very proud of a coffee table with drawer I made for the Finnish company @vaarnii, one of my favorites. I’m not sure if people know it has a drawer….

Philippe Malouin: Unlabeled creativity
@philippemalouin
Philippe Malouin: Unlabeled creativity
@philippemalouin
Philippe Malouin: Unlabeled creativity
@philippemalouin
Philippe Malouin: Unlabeled creativity
@philippemalouin
9. Your work has been showcased worldwide. Is there a place you visited where you felt a sense of belonging?

I traveled to Finland a fair bit when I was developing the Kuru pieces for @iittala. I have to say it really reminded me of my birthplace, in Quebec, Canada: nature, taking your time, and the niceness of its people. It felt a lot like home, but with a much higher general sensibility to design by the general population than where I was born.

Philippe Malouin: Unlabeled creativity
@philippemalouin
10. what is an object in your home that you would never give up? what is the memory attached to it? would you send us a photo taken by you?

I would never give up a lovely granite coffee table made by Max Lamb, he’s a friend, and, in my opinion, one of the best designers in the world.

Philippe Malouin: Unlabeled creativity

Diary of @philippemalouin
Follow @caleidodiary.eu on Instagram

All images are taken from the interviewee’s Instagram account, and are an integral part of the interview’s editorial storytelling. See the interviewee’s Instagram account for full credits.

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