I lose everything. My gym membership card. My headset. My phone. My phone charger. The other month, I lost my driver’s license after it had apparently fallen from my wallet. I didn’t even miss it until a man who lived clear across the country contacted me on LinkedIn to say that he’d found it. Don’t ask me how it got there. It just did. And don’t even get me started on my keys. I read that Madonna showed up three hours late for her concert in Paris last night. I can totally relate. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I put on my coat, ready to leave home and then couldn’t because I had no clue where I had left my keys after I got home the night before. Don’t even bother asking me how often that happens to me. I’ve lost count. I know I am not alone with my problem. In fact, there is now an entire demographic out there of people losing stuff. Why else would a renowned company like Iittala release a new collection to help us organize our personal belongings? It’s called Kuru and I travelled to Amsterdam a while ago for a short interview with its designer, Philippe Malouin.

philippe malouin kuru for iittala

Philippe Malouin’s Kuru for Iittala – the PERFECT gift for the chronically forgetful

For chronically forgetful people like me, Kuru is a gift from the skies!

Kuru is more than just a solution for the stuff we all tend to misplace every now and then. It’s a series of products that you can use to display anything you want. A camera, a piece of fruit, a book – I try to read more often, but never come around to it. Right before Kuru was released, I shot a series of photos at home to show how I would you the various items that make up the collection. I live in a small London flat that doesn’t have a lot of storage space. I mainly use Kuru to display all the things I don’t have a drawer for, but I also have one bowl on my nightstand where I keep my ear plugs. Things can get pretty noisy when you live on the high street like I do. The moment I come home after a day at studio Philippe Malouin, I put my keys, my AirPods and my bike lights in a narrow Kuru bowl on the mantelpiece. 

It must be a big honor to design for such a well-known company as Iittala – even if your name is Philippe Malouin!

I’ve been a fan of Iittala ever since I developed an interest in design. As a matter of fact, my mother gave me an Iittala wine glass designed by Alfredo Häberli when I moved out to go to design school. Last year, Iittala read about me in Kinfolk Magazine and asked me if I could design a series of home displays. The design I proposed came from a series of sculpting exercises we did at our studio. A lot of our work happens by accident. We once even designed a lamp during a live design performance. We stuck LED tape to a tent pole and combined it with a few bricks and some rope. The final design, called Pole, was later produced by Roll & Hill. For Iittala, we experimented by pasting together primary shapes and then taking parts out again. Improvisation is not all we do, however. We also do an insane amount of visual research. At our studio, we literally have thousands of photos that we put up on our main wall. In fact, we make all the interns who work for us pick out the photos they like best and make a new wall for us. By looking closely at the different combinations, we get a lot of fresh ideas. 

What sort of feedback did you get from Iittala during the design process?

Before we showed anything, we wanted to get the proportions just right. That sounds really obvious, but you cannot imagine the number of iterations you have to go through. Material plays an important role. A design made out of wood, for instance, can look totally wrong if it’s done in a certain size. But if you make that same item out of glass, it can be just right. Iittala showed us how to work around the restrictions of the production process. Our designs were altered here and there, but I have to say Iittala helped us improve on the proportions we had in mind originally.

Your mother must be very proud of you! 

Oh, she is! When I went home to Canada this Christmas, I brought her one of my Kuru vases.  She was so proud, she didn’t even take off the little square sticker with the Iittala logo! I guess the circle is complete now.

Philippe Malouin Photography used with kind permission from Iittala. 

For more interviews with designers of everyday items around your home, check out this piece I wrote about the Auping Pixel nightstand.