Not Design, Everything But

Philippe Malouin

“I think that design just adapts to technology and produces things more or less efficiently. But sometimes, just sometimes, with a good mix of creativity, restraint, and technology, you can make something better.” – Philippe Malouin

Philippe Malouin is a London based designer with expertise ranging from furniture design, to large installations, to designing entire business spaces. Philippe dabbled in many different things before pledging his life’s work to design. He started his career working for Tom Dixon, a European design extraordinaire, and this helped Malouin collect the necessities for his tool box. Today, Malouin is the CEO of his own design firm called POST-OFFICE, with which he and his team have created spaces for Everlane, Valextra, Aesop, Artek, and Touch Digital. Malouin uses a mixture of material, technology, inspiration, and creativity to bring to life what he calls “simple objects that surprise.”

When you are meant to do something in life, you just know. It jumps out at you as if to say “Here I am, look no further!” You’re instantly fascinated, intrigued, and totally involved. We can all relate to life giving us pleasant surprises like this in one way or another. With Malouin, this was exactly the case when he found design. Working under Tom Dixon was no subtle gift to his profession- it strengthened him and opened many doors. As Malouin grew, the transition to focusing solely on his own practice occurred organically- he just knew it was time. When he started with Tom he was working three days a week, which gave him two days to work on his own projects. This was more than enough time to start blossoming and strengthening a life of his own in design.

Malouin is always trying to make something better, but says that that never really happens. This is surprisingly his favorite element of design. Taking the time, having the patience, and the right technology may result in improvements, and if not exactly better, certainly different and unique, like Malouin’s favorite piece of work, the Typecast Chair. The Typecast Chair has a clean, utilitarian aesthetic, and is made out of sand-casted aluminum or iron. It is a piece Philippe says he has redesigned millions of times, and that went through countless permutations in its design period of over two years.

His inspiration can be found in many different aspects of life. The tiniest details can jumpstart the most amazing ideas. One may wonder if there is a certain place in the world- home or someplace foreign- that inspires Philippe’s work the most. Malouin explains, “Somewhere I haven’t been. You tend to pay closer attention to somewhere you haven’t been before; To inconspicuous things, the details in the pavement, how the façade of buildings are composed etc. etc. I tend to look at manmade things, but nature is always the greatest reset.”

“Sometimes things come naturally, and sometimes you spend months researching, until something feels right, every project is different,” the designer states. In the world Philippe has created for himself, his work can be both liberating and limiting, especially when working on a project for a client. The client doesn’t always have a clear direction and just asks Philippe and his team to create something. In this case the team has to fully understand the client’s vision, get inside his or her head, and mix the client’s desires with their own skills, talents, and ideas.

You might think organization and precision would be paramount in design. Philippe says his home is quite neat and organized, but his studio is controlled chaos. Some projects can be all-consuming, and when working with so many different materials and tools, and with such intricacies, the team makes a conscious effort to keep the space clean, and uses this time for reflection. With new projects, plans, and the bigger picture always on the horizon- all while simultaneously strengthening past projects- Malouin must have some serious inspiration to keep him motivated. According to Malouin, it’s simply “Not design at all; everything but.”

Text by Trinity White
Photography by Olivia Beasley