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In The Hot Seat

With an extensive portfolio of furniture and product designs, plus multiple awards under his belt, designer Philippe Malouin is well and truly one to watch. We were curious to gain some exclusive insights from the Wallpaper* Designer of the Year, and the mind behind the Group armchair and sofa.

Covering topics ranging from the day-to-day running of a successful east London studio, to broader musings on his personal design practice, we welcome the Canadian-born creative into the remarkably comfortable hot seat.

Where do you live?
I live in Stoke Newington, London, and my studio is in Hackney Central. It’s a 10 minute cycle, and I love my commute because I cycle through the park and there are dogs everywhere having fun.

How have your design principles influenced your home?
They’re not really related. My home has a lot of different things in it, from a lot of different places and styles. The products I create are clean, minimal and as reduced in appearance as possible. My flat is not like this.

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Behind the seams at Coakley & Cox, SCP’s specialist upholstery factory in Norfolk. Philippe Malouin, Sheridan Coakley and Tim Cox discuss the development of the Group chair.

How have your views on design changed since you began your career?

Less is definitely more. Simple is also a lot more difficult to design than complicated.

What have you learnt?
Work crazy hard, be nice to people, that’s all you need to know.

Who are your heroes?
Jasper Morrison, Ray and Charles Eames.

Where do you seek inspiration?
Not ever in design, but everywhere else.

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Sketch for the Group chair

How do you begin working on a project?
Every project is different. We often try to make things at first. For instance I’m working on a rug project at the moment. I didn’t know what to do, so I just started drawing lines, parallel lines over and over until I found an idea that was working, then I developed it from there into a real product.

What do you prefer to work with? Computer? Pencil? Pen?
Making things with materials, computers for accuracy.

How do you reconcile design with consumerism?
It’s good to design something that might stick around for longer. It’s also good to work on the higher end of things as this might mean that the designs will be consumed differently, kept for longer, etc.

What is the one thing that every home needs?
Less stuff.

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Group armchairs upholstered in Kvadrat Skye, designed by Philippe Malouin for SCP.

What kind of environment do you like working in?
Haha! I live and work in London, so I don’t really have a choice. I work with the space I could find. But, luckily, I found a place big enough with a big bright window. We have lots of plants so it makes the place cheery.

Describe an average day. What is important?
Achieving a work/life balance. I love working, because I have some time off. We work 4 days a week here at the studio. I can’t be creative all the time. I need to see and do other things. Then when I come back to the studio I’m ready to work.

What could you not live without?
My bed. Everything else can go…

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Group compact sofa upholstered in Donghia Mohair, designed by Philippe Malouin for SCP.

What’s next on your agenda?
I am currently working on furniture and products for various companies, and on art pieces for my NYC gallery (salon 94 design). I am fortunate enough to have the opportunity to do both.

I am also currently preparing a solo exhibition at Villa Noailles in the south of France. I’m very excited to do this, as it is a great honour. I respect and admire each “president of the jury” That Villa Noailles has ever had. This summer it’s my turn, and I couldn’t be happier.

Thank you to Philippe for taking the time to share these insights. Read the full designer biography here.
View the Group Armchair and the Group Sofa.

Philippe Malouin and Sheridan Coakley take a seat on the Group sofa, at Maison & Objet.