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Big Ideas

Philippe Malouin: The Urgent Designer

Computers be damned. Break-out industrial designer Philippe Malouin speaks on his love model-making and relentless, real-world experimentation.


French-Canadian Philippe Malouin may have just graduated from Design Academy Eindhoven in the The Netherlands, but if there’s one industrial design principle he understands implicitly, it’s that of thoughtfulness. Armed with this as well as internships where he studied under the careful tutelage of Tom Dixon and collaborated with Hermes, this industrial designer has only just started to show his true colors.

Malouin believes that the fastest way to making ideas happen is the Nike approach: just do it. “A good way to get an idea off the ground is to try it. As simplistic as it sounds, many people don’t bother to explore and experiment as much as they should; too much time is spent on the computer, model-making is a great problem solver. Experimentation combined with lots of research can produce amazing achievements. I always try to approach design from alternative methods of production, as to create new ideas. The project that best symbolizes this is my Grace table. It is the result of lots of experimentation and frustrations, it took a long time before I got what I was looking for but the end product was better than I could have imagined.”Malouin’s organization techniques are based on that same urgency, and place importance on an entire project, where both technicalities and enjoyment share equal weight. “I believe that the best way to stay organized is to start working on the first conceivable aspect of any project as soon as they occur, even if that particular aspect isn’t the most fun to start working on. I think the bits of work that are the least fun to work on should always be thoroughly finished and out of the way before you start working on the creative side of things. In other words, research before design.”

As simplistic as it sounds, many people don’t bother to explore and experiment as much as they should.

His designs often benefit from the input of others — even those who aren’t necessarily associated with design. Fresh eyes are sometimes able to see hidden possibilities. “Collaboration definitely helps getting a different vision on any given problem or idea. Often, the best brainstorms are with people who aren’t necessarily involved with design, or who are involved with different creative industries. References are always very important and when you speak to someone who possesses a completely different set of references than you do, old ideas can be given a fresh new outlook. As far as sources of inspiration goes, the overlooked is always a great concept generator. The banal and the known can always be reinterpreted and reapplied, concepts utilized in fashion, architecture, science or everyday objects seem to drive my work.”

The simplicity and thoughtfulness that back his designs are also an underlying element in his day-to-day life and motivations. “I don’t know about a mission, but I would like to somehow contribute to giving anyone a different vision of their surroundings. I just want to keep designing exciting objects and places to make a living, live happily with my partner and I’ll be the luckiest man on earth.”

Comments (3)
  • drawattention

    just great! greets from eindhoven 🙂

  • Andrew Bennett Dickson

    I hate to gripe, but I have to call BS! 

    From the look of Philippe’s work, he is some art boy, not an industrial designer.  His work consists inane (and not so handsome) solutions to problems no one has, and all is commissioned via some museum with no clients in sight.

    I love 99%, but respect will fade if you fawn over fad “designers” instead of showcasing talented people delivering meaningful work.  It’s hard to take away anyhting useful from this fellow, instead I prefer your pieces on Christopher Niemann, Yves Behar, or Scott Wilson.

    Otherwise, keep up the good work.

  • Zach Jones

    Sorry not impressed, unpractical. Not though unpractical enough to stand on it’s own as art.

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