Guest Interview n°46: Philippe Malouin

We met Philippe Malouin, one of the most exciting young contemporary designers of today, during Salone del Mobile 2013 held last week.

Philippe was born in Canada but has studied in Paris and at Design Academy of Eindhoven, a school that has surely influenced his approach towards design. In fact, Philippe is more interested in un-orthodox production processes and exploration of different materials than in formal virtuosity. We had a pleasant chat with him on the occasion of his first solo show in Italy, properly titled ‘Simple’, held at Project B gallery in Milan.

Written by Rujana Rebernjak, interview by Monica Lombardi, video by Renzo O. Angelillo 
Share: Facebook,  Twitter  

Salone 2013: Something Good

Something Good is a project initiated three years ago by a group of young Italian designers with the idea of creating a platform for creation of hand-made objects, raising awareness towards the quality production of local artisans as well as giving an output for emerging designers, who often find it difficult to enter the corporate world, dominated by bombastic international names. For their third appointment at Salone del mobile, Zaven (Marco Zavagno and Enrica Cavarzan), Matteo Zorzenoni and Giorgio Biscaro have created a series of simple, but beautiful objects, designed both through their impeccable vision as well as the profound knowledge of local artisans, their partners-in-crime.

How did you designers meet?
We basically studied in the same university so we know each other from that time. We are a sort of a team of three different design studios: one is Giorgio Biscaro, one is Matteo Zorzenoni and then Zaven which consist of Enrica Cavarzan and Marco Zavagno. We started this project two years ago when we started working with artisans of the local area of Veneto, where we are based. The main group of organizers are us four and we started this new company with a first collection based on our designs, with the idea of opening up to other projects in the future.

What is the idea that guided the creation Something Good?
We started by inviting people to collaborate with artisans and local producers and we saw that it was going really well so we decided to start this project, Something Good. This is the first time since we started two years ago that we are here with some sort of structure that is not an exhibition, and it’s the first time we are actually selling the products we developed together. It’s very exciting!

Can you tell us something more about your show here in Milan?

We are presenting a few projects that are made in the Veneto area with local artisans. Since everything is made by artisans, the objects are really perfect in one way, but can also have certain ‘deficiencies’ or ‘mistakes’ due to the material we work with. They are not actually mistakes, but result in unique pieces. Like these vases, they are made of borosilicate glass and are hand blown which means that each piece is made individually, so there can be a difference from one vase to another.

Could you explain the particularities of the objects displayed? How and where were they made and who are the artisans you have worked with?
The vases (DIP) are designed by Zaven and this chromed centre-piece (NISH) is made by Giorgio Biscaro. The cutting board (IN-LAY) is designed by Matteo Zorzenoni and made with two different types of wood. These pitchers are also designed by Matteo and developed by a glass master in Murano. 
You can see from the display that we work with different scales of the project. We don’t want to be stuck with something that is complicated, we want to manage the production in the right way, so we try to find a way of working with the right scale of things together with the artisans. The product basically comes from our dialogue and we solve the problems and develop the objects together with the artisans. Their role is as important as ours, it’s really half and half in terms of design.

What were your goals in creating this project and pursuing this kind of production?

The idea is based on working in a way that is flexible: we can choose what to produce according to the abilities and skills of the artisans we are working with. The point is to make something that is of quality, and strictly related to the tradition of the work of the artisans. We work with small quantities each time according to requests and we are going to sell online – the shop opens in 10 days.

What do you think is the role of traditional crafts in Italian design?

People always think every project is made in the industry but in reality the first project or object is made by the artisan who makes the first prototype. Also, many times it’s the artisan who works with the final product for the industry. The artisans are the core of the industry in Italy – we don’t have the culture of machinery and we have really powerful skills, and traditions are still very important for Italian design. It’s important to keep the abilities of artisans alive. People think that the work of an artisan isn’t that ‘cool’, but actually, being able to work with your hands and your head together, is what creates great things.

You as designers curate the production process as a whole with Something Good, do you feel that the traditional role of a designer has changed today?

As a designer you must know everything. Every time you work with a company that works in different fields or with different techniques, you need to have the knowledge of the production process. So for us, to curate the whole process, being ‘on the other side’, has been a great challenge. It makes you grow as a designer because you start thinking about the communication, the packaging etc.

Lisa Olsson Hjerpe & Rujana Rebernjak – Photos Alessandro Furchino 
Share: Facebook,  Twitter  

Salone 2013: Ventura Lambrate

If you were to choose – be it for the lack of time, be it for the lack interest – only a couple of things to see at Salone del mobile, one of those should be Ventura Lambrate. A particularly ‘independent’ design district in the corporate-owned design fair, this cluster of internationally acclaimed creatives, young talents and small creative brands is the place to be.

This year Ventura Lambrate sees the return of some of its already established appointments, like the one with Cos, once again presenting their pop-up shop this year designed by Bonsoir Paris. On the other hand, some other well-established companies have sensed the appeal and particular reputation of Ventura Lambrate, moving their stands away from the centre of Milan, like Established & Sons whose polished and eclectic furniture creates a quite strong contrast with the surrounding shows. Another (fashion) design giant has turned to Ventura Lambrate: we are speaking of Diesel, who has also created a special restaurant in the zone in collaboration with Amaro, named The Diesel Social Cafè Club.

While the popularity of the zone is attracting established design companies and thus, potentially, putting in question its role as hub of young and independent design talents, the presence of some of the most interesting European design schools surely brings it back on the ‘research’ track. You can see the works of Royal College of Art graduates that range from contemporary furniture, to interactive installations, to more narrative-based pieces, “all aiming to challenge the perception of design and provoke a change that would fundamentally shape our future world”. On the other hand, the provocative young designers of Design Academy in Eindhoven have concentrated on the process of designing, explored with the exhibition “Linking Process” whose goal is to reveal the beauty of creation putting on display the “phases of concept development, trial and error, sketching, building and rebuilding, and the new discoveries” that result from that processes.

Hopefully the sudden appeal of Ventura Lambrate won’t spoil its denomination as place of research, investigation, critical approach and speculation which the overcrowded corporate design world so much needs.

Rujana Rebernjak 
Share: Facebook,  Twitter  

Tom Dixon’s MOST at Salone del Mobile 2013

Rough and smooth, traditional English tea with scones, cucumber sandwiches and strawberry jam, hip sportswear, young design brands, brass buckets, metal lamps, angular furniture and gemstones, science and technology, forward-thinking culture, dramatic surroundings, disruptive design and robotics. What do all these things have in common? Well, nothing more and nothing less than Tom Dixon, the grand master of British design, whose work has changed the way we perceive design and “the materials, technologies, production techniques and distribution systems” it uses.

Tom Dixon has charmed the design world during last year’s Salone del mobile with his project Most, held for the second year round at the Museum of Science and Technology in Milan. More than a project, Most is a platform for contemporary design that combines a distinctive mix of performances and events with young design brands and studios, interacting with almost all areas of creative production: from food to fashion, from art to product design, from technology to traditional crafts.

To prove the versatility of the event, we must mention this year’s most photographed and talked about feature: Tom Dixon’s collection for Adidas, comprising a collection of garments and accessories that “you can pack neatly in a bag for a week away”. Besides this enviable collaboration, Mr. Dixon is also presenting his new line of products, made primarily from metal – his signature material – and named “Rough and Smooth”, recalling the physical qualities of lamps, tables, tea sets and champagne buckets included in the collection.

Even though Tom Dixon is the main star of Most, it would be foolish visiting the Museum of Science and Technology only to see his latest creations, since this giant location is packed up with exciting new talents, great pieces of design and a positive vibe we hope might last even after the lights of this year’s Salone are turned (finally) off.

Rujana Rebernjak 
Share: Facebook,  Twitter