Canadian-born designer Philippe Malouin was up for the challenge when Iittala asked him to create a product range for their Spring 2020 collection. The result is Kuru: a collection of bowls and vases designed for storing and displaying your most precious belongings. We interviewed Malouin about the collaboration and his design favorites.
DESIGNER PHILIPPE MALOUIN is known for his ability to create strong yet simple geometrical silhouettes, as well as his aim to design products that will last a long time both in terms of quality and appearance. Having set up his design studio in 2008, the London-based designer has worked with a variety of brands and clients, designing furniture and lighting as well as art objects and installations.
Now Malouin has teamed up with the Finnish brand Iittala to create Kuru, a collection of ceramic and glass ”home displays” that help you keep your home neatly organized while also providing a pedestal to show off some of your most prized possessions. Named after the Finnish word for ”gorge”, a narrow, steep-walled valley between arctic hills, the Kuru collection consists of sculptural, geometrical bowls in different sizes as well as a mouth-blown vase. We chatted with the designer to learn more about how the collection was created.
How did you end up collaborating with Iittala?
“It was surreal when Iittala originally contacted me. They had seen an article about me in Kinfolk Magazine and thought I might be a match with the brand. We met and got along, and they gave us a brief. The rest is history.
Iittala is the first piece of design I ever owned. I remember when I moved out and went to university, my mom offered to buy me an ‘adult’ present. I asked her to get me the Essence wine glasses by Alfredo Häberli.
Alvar Aalto has been my favorite designer forever, along with Jasper Morrison. It’s kind of incredible that I get to design for a brand that works with both my favorite designers of all time, really. It’s surreal.”
Tell us a bit about Kuru.
“We were asked originally to focus on a new idea for Iittala items called ’home displays’ as well as the concept of “bringing nature in”. Iittala chose the home display concept.
This collection is designed for anyone that needs some help organizing their things. Like myself – I’m really messy. I use the small glass bowl to drop in my keys, AirPods, and bike lights when I walk into my home. It’s a sculptural piece, so it looks great empty, or full. It organizes my things and displays them.”
Kuru consists of both glass and ceramic items. Have you worked with these materials before?
“I have worked with glass and ceramics a little bit in the past, but never on an industrial scale, like working with Iittala. The challenges we encountered were much different from the ones I had known of before. These pieces are both handcrafted, yet industrially produced. The quality level is very high, but they need to respect certain industrial production methods.
We were able to keep the initial design for the pieces while making small concessions for the industrial process. It was definitely a stop and go process. Which makes the end result even more satisfying.”
What does your home look like?
“My home is new and old. I live in London, in a late Victorian flat, and I have both new and vintage things. I really don’t have a particular style. Just nice things, just a few of them with a lot of plants. I have a lot of Artek furniture along with the sofa I made for the British manufacturer and retailer SCP.
I also have pieces that some friends made. One of my favorite things is a small solid granite Side Table that British designer Max Lamb made. We exchanged some works a while back. It’s my most cherished thing.”
What do you like to do in your spare time?
“Canadians are a lot like Finnish people. When I have spare time, I like being outdoors: snowboarding in the winter, and the beach or the lake in the summer. I also love living in London as it is a city that is full of culture – there is always something on to see.”
Iittala's Kuru collection
Who: Philippe Malouin
• Born 1982 in Canada, lives in London
• Studied design at the Design Academy Eindhoven, École Nationale Supérieure de Création Industrielle in Paris and University of Montreal.
• Won Wallpaper* Magazine’s Designer of the Year award in 2018
Text: Emmi Ratilainen Images: Iittala