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Philippe Malouin


When did you realise you wanted to be a designer?

I have always made things from an early age. We had a workshop at home, and I spent an incredible amount of time there. I would make toys, cars, skateboard ramps, etc. I didn’t realise I wanted to be a designer until I took two gap years between college and university to travel abroad. I encountered many different people during my travels, and Milan was a place where I spent a bit of time as a young adult. Some of the people I encountered were designers and they seemed so fulfilled and passionate about their work that it inspired me to find my calling. When I got back to Canada, I enrolled in a foundation course in art and design, and design stuck. I knew then that this was what I wanted to do with my life.

What is artificial light for you?

Artificial light is the quickest way to design a space. The lighting in a room can completely change the emotion of its inhabitants. Artificial light allows you to create an environment for a specific task or activity. The right lighting and furniture will make a space that suits your needs and personality.

Why do you like working with Flos?

Working with Flos is literally a dream come true. In my opinion, it is the most important design company in the world. Flos is an incredibly open-minded and forward-looking company. They involved me in every stage of our design collaboration and cared deeply about my vision for the project: from the initial design brief to research and development, marketing and photography. I felt involved and listened to every step of the way. An important detail is that everyone involved with Flos is kind, open and incredibly professional.

What is the next object you’d like to design?

I would like to design a larger lighting element for Flos next. I enjoy working on different scales. The initial brief supplied by Flos eventually led to the production of Bilboquet, which is a small, accessible and playful yet serious project. I look forward to working on a different scale next time.

Philippe with his dog Pablo
Philippe with Bilboquet

Is there a great designer, artist or musician you regard as a point of reference for your work?

I wouldn’t necessarily say that it is a point of reference as we do very different things. However, the roster of designers at Flos does inform my design decisions for different reasons. The Castiglionis push me to create playful, yet serious and perfectly engineered products. Jasper inspires me to design things that are timeless and in good taste. Ronan and Erwan drive me to infuse poetry into my products whilst considering inventive ways of manufacturing. Jay and Ed ensure I pay close attention to form, rigour and proportion. And Konstantin reminds me to focus on the wonders of technical design perfection. I do not claim to possess these qualities myself, but I aim to.

What is design today? Do you feel you have a mission towards the human being and the planet?

I think that my mission is to design products that last, to work on objects that will stand the test of time and not end up discarded after a few years of use. The Bilboquet body is made from a byproduct of paper production, the sphere is intercepted from the windmill industry and the light bulb is easy to change. The inherent quality of the product means that it is long-lasting, as each component can be replaced or repaired. I believe this is our responsibility towards the planet as designers: to make sustainable products and to make it easy for people to look after them.

Stories about P’s studio and life in London. Why did you chose to live in London?

My life is pretty simple, I cycle through the park every morning to get to the studio, I make coffee and I look at the projects I’m lucky enough to be asked to do. I have lovely clients who allow me to do what I love, and I am very grateful to be in this position. I ended up in London after taking a part-time job when I graduated and it seemed exciting at the time to move to such a big city full of culture and bustle, plus many of the designers I idolised were based here, so it seemed like a good idea. Back in 2008 and the years afterward, it felt like design had an important place in London and designers were also makers who were organising exhibitions and being really proactive. I met such amazing friends who became my chosen family, and I was given many work opportunities, so it made sense for me to stay here.

Philippe at Designers' Saturday in Oslo, 2023
@Pablo di Prima