We backed a good horse when choosing to single out Philippe Malouin during our Salone coverage last year. The London-based Canadian designer has experienced a steep career trajectory since and ended 2012 on a high with W Hotels' 'Designer of the Future Award'. This week, he opens his first Italian solo exhibition, 'Simple', at Milan's Project B gallery, an impressive effort showcasing his unique design approach.
Curated by Maria Cristina Didero and taking a dynamic installation format, Simple presents several new works that have been developed over the course of two years. 'It takes a lot more work to do something simple,' reflected Malouin, who spoke to us during a time-out from the show's technical installation. 'These are all fully-cooked ideas that have really had time to develop. The chair has been redone over 20 times. We made over 50 1:1 models to get it right.'
Spanning furniture and tabletop objects to decorative MDF wall pieces - the latter were inspired by the Brutalist architecture of Juliaan Lampens - every object in the exhibition is a testament to Malouin's sophisticated perspective, which sees basic shapes and an austere treatment of materials forming the guiding principles.
The main focus in the exhibition is a series of furniture pieces called 'Slat', which are comprised of tessellated strips of timber to form large table tops, benches and shelves. Meanwhile the aforementioned 'Type Cast' chair, constructed from sand-cast aluminum frames, is Malouin's second wafer-thin chair. It possesses a new elevated quality, in spite of its humble beginnings.
'I've always been interested in the process of making things by hand, especially when they don't look handmade,' Malouin explained. 'I am obsessed with working with materials that are overlooked because they are too readily available.'
As if all that wasn't enough, Malouin has even managed to squeeze out a contribution to our own Handmade 2013 project. A collection of concrete vessels, which use everyday Tupperware as moulds, are further proof of a designer who has truly hit his stride.