Accuracy and equilibrium is what comes to mind when faced with a piece from the brothers Bouroullec. The design duo is composed by Ronan and Erwan, two french siblings working together since 1999, now one of the most visionaries couple of the interior design scene. Since their young age they have always been engaged in drawing and creating, interest that brought to an intuitive approach to matters like colors, proportions and material. This genuine way of thinking led them to the development of a unique style which has been recognized in a few years from the start of their career in interior design.
Being a duo, Ronan and Erwan, are the exact definition of a team work; their method of working is not always precisely planned but, as they say, more similar to “a ping pong match”, where ideas flow from one to the other, building up what the project will look like. They develop each part of their creation together, basing their collaboration on an open dialogue, which helps seeing every aspect of the work from different perspectives. Although their work and design pair them together, the Bouroullec want to presents themselves as two different persons; even in the branding their name “Ronan & Erwan” stresses the distinction, unlike – for example – Humberto and Fernando Campana, working under the Campana Brothers name.
Their style is hard to define as it is a mixture of inspirations difficult to separate and mostly coming from the needs each object has to respond to. Although most might categorize their design as light and minimalist, the working routine behind it is anything but easy. As said, accuracy and correctness is one of the key to their products, as one of the main goal is to eliminate anything superfluous and useless. The minimalist effect is therefore reached thanks to this problem-solving approach rather than a fixed stylistic choice.
What interests the Bouroullec is the ability to respond to many different needs at the same time, producing object that are multi-functional and adaptable.
A key element of their design is therefore the idea of the modular furniture, something that is able to respond to different functions and that personally involves the customer of the object, breaking the barrier between designer and final client. A clear example is given by their very first project shown to the public of the design world at the Salon du Meuble of Paris in 1997, the “Disintegrated Kitchen”; this project “simply suggests breaking away from both the idea of the made-to-measure and the integrated”. Objects that are able to create and define the space are common in their design too; while the “Cabane” (2001) and the “Lit Close” (2000) can be considered architectural elements for they create “a room in a room”, the “Clouds modules” (2002) and the more recent project “Clouds” (2008) imply the action of the final consumer over it, giving infinite possibilities of design.
This notion of flexibility goes along with the Bouroullec aim of producing something that is accessible and functional, and therefore follows the rapid evolution of modern society and its ever changing needs. “We try to offer creations that iduce thinking and that have the ability to adapt themselves. We strive to be more skillful in offering solutions rather than new problematics”.
Each project has specific issues and requires a different set of approches but Ronan and Erwan do have a set of standard demand for their design; one of them is the susteinability of the object over time in order to limit the negative consequences on the environment. Focusing on the qualitative aspect of an object rather than the stylistic one seems to make the object last longer in time; this is not only about recyclable materials but more of a need to produce design that is not superfluous.
This attitute does translate anyway in a sustainable “state of mind” which makes the designers aware of the ecological impact every object produced might have (i.e. material used, fabrication process); it is for this reason that they closely follow each step of the production of an object, working tightly with the producing company and managing from the beginning to the end the production of a design.
Although they are wordly renowned for their interior design, furniture and few architecture projects, Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec declare to be open to any kind of field where they could apply their vision and work freely on the project without preconceptions or estasblished knowledge over the topic.
The duo currently works for some of the most important design manufacturers like Vitra, Kvadrat, Magis, Kartell, and Cappellini; they also collaborate with the Kreo Gallery in Paris, where their work has been shown over four exhibitions, and occasionally venture architectural projects (The Floating House in 2006, or the Camper’s stores in Paris and Copenhagen in 2009).
- Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec – The Catalogue of Reason, Laurent Lebon, edited by Images Modernes (November 2002)
- Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec, multiple authors, edited by Phaidon Press Inc. (March 2008)