Philippe Malouin
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Philippe Malouin

Telephone, 2019
7 x 10 1/4 x 6 1/2 inches
Contributed by Salon 94 Design

Of all the curatorial moments in At the Noyes House, perhaps the most delicious is the juxtaposition of the designer’s Selectrix IBM typewriter – the most famous of his industrial products – with Philippe Malouin’s blue nylon telephone. This blind date between the two objects is a fascinating study in similarities and differences. Most obviously, Malouin’s functional landline alludes back to midcentury technology; the French designer created it as part of a suite entitled Industrial Office, which updated various Modernist forms in colorful nylon and simplified lines, to uncanny effect. It’s as if one’s mental image of a phone had somehow manifested itself in real space, or conversely, as if we were somehow inhabiting a comic book narrative, complete with props. This playful, “meta” quality announces a postmodern viewpoint completely at odds with the earnest functionalism of Noyes’s typewriter. Yet, beyond this difference, there is an underlying commonality. Both objects are honed to their absolute essence, achieving an unforgettable charisma. It just goes to show that as much as design has changed over the decades, some of what makes an object great is the same as ever.

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Philippe Malouin
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Philippe Malouin