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Salone del Mobile preview, part 1

The prestigious Salone del Mobile design and furniture fair takes place in Milan 16-21 April. Over the coming weeks we'll take a look at a number of designers showing their work at this year's exhibition.

By Editor / 13-03-2008

The prestigious Salone del Mobile design and furniture fair takes place in Milan 16-21 April. Over the coming weeks we'll take a look at some of the designers and their work showing at this year's exhibition.

Philippe Malouin graduated from the Design Academy Eindhoven (Man and Living Department) in 2008.

Project Name: Grace Table
Malouin: 'Grand furniture pieces are marvellous, although rather tricky to transport, handle or store. I admire the capacity of inflatable furniture to decrease its size to modest volumes. Inflatable furniture has many disadvantages such as stability, rigidity, the control of its shape etc. Inflatable chairs and couches have been around for a long time. I am trying to move toward this concept from a different approach: inflatable tables do not exist because of the limitations of inflatable furniture, starting with the fact that flat surfaces are difficult to achieve.

After having researched many types of inflatable materials and products, I came upon a technology used within the British Navy Rescue. Inflatable rescue platforms are built in grand sizes and utilize a material called “Drop-Thread”. A spin-off from the velvet manufacturing industry, Dropthread (Dropstitch) fabric first found application in the military arena. This material is composed of two layers of waterproof fabric, which are interconnected by thousands of strands, allowing one to achieve flat surfaces once inflated. I have worked in collaboration with Eurocraft, a leading manufacturer of inflatable structures in the United Kingdom and developed a grand table, big enough to accommodate 10 guests when inflated, and small enough to fit in a duffel bag when deflated.'

Project Name: Hanger Chair
Malouin: '“Occasional furniture”. The name should be self explanatory, but it is somewhat incorrect in most cases. These pieces tend to lie around the house, stacked in a corner, or in an unused room. When space is an issue, as is the case for most European city dwellers, an object such as a folding chair will clutter up the precious available space. The Hanger Chair is a folding chair based on one of the ultimate storage systems: the modest hanger. It allows us to store clothes in an orderly fashion. Most houses or flats are equipped with a wardrobe to receive the object. By morphing the function of the hanger with that of the folding chair, a new hybrid is born: a Hanger Chair that has a function, even when not in use, to store our clothes in an orderly fashion.'

Project Name: Dervish Ceiling Fan
Malouin: 'While borrowing a friend's car for the day, I decided to have it washed to show my gratitude. I pulled into an automated carwash, and while inside, I couldn't help but notice how the carwash brushes completely alter their shape from flimsy drooping hair covered rods to massive powerful beams. Could this quality of transformation be applied to the home sector? Where would a transforming apparatus find use in the home? The carwash brushes go from limp, to cones, to beams. A lamp could use this whimsical feature to direct light, from a tube of light to a cone, to an open light source. The contraption, with its spinning, would produce a rather considerable amount of wind. Ceiling fans have not changed in the slightest ever since their introduction. Apart from finishes and rotation speed, they have always remained rather dull. By morphing the ever-changing carwash brushes with a ceiling fan, a new product is achieved and completely redefines ceiling fans. The piece is called Dervish, its spinning qualities remind one of the Turkish spinning dancers going in a trance.'

Project Name: Ball point stool
Malouin: 'Whilst sitting on a caster chair, I rolled over a patch of dust, and my tracks were marked. I thought of how interesting it would be to track a user's behavior with a piece of furniture. Would a caster-mounted stool stay in its place of use or would it be playfully used to travel around one's apartment. Writing and drawing are two acts that allow such creativity; the act of sitting on the other hand does not often lead to extraordinary inventive achievements. Perhaps the feat of sitting could lead to playfulness, inventiveness, and therefore redefine itself. I experimented with countless combinations of ink mixes and caster systems. I discovered that ball transfers would make a perfect ballpoint, capable of supporting the weight of a human whilst distributing ink as a pen would. The final product is a transparent stool informing its user of its contents (ink) and its new functions: tracking, writing and drawing, all in motion.'

Malouin's work can be seen at the Design Academy Eindhoven group exhibition, Salon del Mobile, 16-21 April, 2008.

Images: Grace Table (photo Rene van der Hulst), Hanger Chair (photo Philippe Malouin), Dervish Ceiling Fan (photo Rene van der Hulst), Ball point stool (photo Philippe Malouin).

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