A fabulous Bivouac, staged across 1,000 square metres in Galerie 3 of the Centre Pompidou-Metz
, this exhibition of works by Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec sets out the result of almost fifteen years of mutual collaboration.
Their first major solo show in France, Bivouac highlights an exceptional international career, during which the two brothers have worked with some of the greatest names in design, been crowned by numerous awards and the presence of their work in public collections.
Imagined as a temporary encampment - hence its name - Bivouac is deliberately divested of scenographic elements other than the Bouroullecs' work. Movement is imparted by contrasting scales, transparency and superpositions.
Visitors are invited to wander around the gallery, moving between prototypes and finished objects, mass-produced and hand-crafted works.
Bivouac highlights the immense diversity of these creations and economies achieved in production. It also addresses key concepts in the Bouroullecs' research: objects which are nomadic, ephemeral, modular, organic, flexible.
The exhibition is neither an inventory nor a retrospective of their work. Rather, it illustrates the current state of their designs and research, in constant evolution.
This first solo show at the Centre Pompidou-Metz gives pride of place to design as a fundamental and prolific discipline in contemporary creation, and an open field for research at the junction of experimentation and daily life. In keeping with the Centre Pompidou, it emphasises a determination to embrace "art in all its forms" so that visitors might discover a wide spectrum of creation.
Ronan Bouroullec, born 1971 and a graduate of the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, and Erwan Bouroullec, born 1976 and a graduate of the École Nationale Supérieure dArts in Cergy-Pontoise, began working together in 1999.
Their designs are manufactured by such major names as Vitra, Magis, Alessi, Established & Sons, Axor Hansgrohe, Kartell, Kvadrat, Cappellini, Camper and Ligne Roset. Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec are also involved in more experimental design with Galerie Kreo, and occasionally architectural projects.
Named Designers of the Year at the 2002 Paris Furniture Show and the 2011 Maison & Objet show, their other awards include the City of Paris Grand Prix du Design (1998), the New Designer Award at the New York International Contemporary Furniture Fair (1999) and the Copenhagen Finn Juhl Prize (2008). Their work has been shown in a number of solo shows, including at London's Design Museum (2002), the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, Rotterdam's Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, La Piscine, Musée d'Art et d'Industrie in Roubaix (2004), Villa Noailles in Hyères (2008) and Le Grand Hornu, Belgium (2009).
Their work is part of the collections at institutions such as the Centre Pompidou - Musée National d'Art Moderne and the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Design Museum, London, and the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam.
For the London Design Festival and in partnership with Kvadrat, their Textile Field installation is on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London from 15 to 25 September 2011.
Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec were also awarded this years commission to design a contemporary addition to the Gabriel staircase at Château de Versailles.
The Work of Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec
Within the space of a few years, Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec have constructed an edifice that towers over the landscape of international design.
Since their earliest appearances in the late 1990s, their work has brought a new energy to design. At barely twenty years old, they were driven by a determination that few would expect in such young men.
As part of a generation that works under pressure from time, in constant demand for media projects and high-profile events, the Bouroullecs stand out for their long-term view. The consistency of the objects they produce reflects this extended vision. Partitioning, seats and objects occupy the long transparency of the gallery space, dividing, framing, qualifying, giving character. By questioning our everyday habits, the two brothers raise interesting possibilities as to modern lifestyles.
Algues, for example, invites the user to organise their living space how they want, by building their own partitions irrespective of conventional architectural logic. The Bouroullecs create objects for a changing, flexible environment that echoes a peripatetic world. A world where nothing is set in stone. Ronan is captivated by nomadic peoples: "Arriving, leaving, simply, pragmatically. I like the softness of Berber tents, the carpets on the ground
These are practical, self-evident, subtly ergonomic solutions, and at the same time they create a backdrop, an atmosphere. They show respect for the environment,leave no trace. It's refined, light, humble."
This freedom is evident in the materials and textiles they choose. Erwan is fascinated by jersey fabrics that adapt to the body's curves without restricting movement. They used this type of ultra-stretch textile to cover Ploum, a sofa whose homogenous form blurs the transition between seat and back. Its comfort comes from a combination of soft memory foam and this highly elastic fabric. The result is a gentle, nest-like form.
Comfort is one of their foremost concerns; in their eyes a responsibility even. Slow Chair is characteristic of this belief. At first glance, this transparent chair suggests none of the comfort of a traditional leather or fabric armchair, Chesterfield or any other well-stuffed seat, and yet
As Erwan explains, "It has the bounce of a tennis racquet. The impression is more sports shoe than slipper! It's a slightly different comfort that will inspire an inevitably different and, I hope, modern behaviour." These references to sport in a domestic context reveal a sign of the times that also emerges in the growing popularity of sportswear which, thanks in part to technical fabrics, has brought a new brand of elegance and well-being to urban dress. This mix of genres in this case by introducing a hint of sportswear to the home - is one of the brothers' favourite practices. Their work seeks out variety.
Both brothers are intent on making their contribution to diversity in the world, as this is precisely how the world grows. Hence they devote much of their energy to drawing out an object's singular nature, which they might call "fantasy," "surprise," or "astonishment." This form of difference is important, insists Ronan: "It's like meeting some amazing person." This singularity never occurs by chance; it is never a random attribution. It slowly hatches, emerging from a precise definition of the object and a careful balancing of its constituent parts. Through intense concentration, the two designers pinpoint this singularity which they then take to maturity. Their studio is a laboratory. They and their assistants shape, cut, glue, sew, draw, calculate. They make, undo, make again, putting what they have made to the test to take it further still. Adjusting, improving, perfecting. Every detail is the object of infinite attention. Potentially a process without end