“For us there is no hierarchy among the themes. Every theme is interesting, especially when we don’t know anything about it at the beginning. We like to start without prejudice, with a fresh eye.”
Rising stars of European design, Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec combine romanticism and functionality in their work, unveiling designs that are infused with energy, wit, and poetry. Their distinctive style, along with their extraordinary ability to reinvent traditional types of furniture and products, appeals to a younger generation of roving design enthusiasts while at the same time earning the respect and admiration of long-standing design professionals.
After graduating from the Ecole Nationale des Arts Decoratifs, Ronan began working alone, progressively assisted by Erwan, who at the time was a student at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts of Cergy Pontoise. Since 1999, the Bouroullec brothers have worked together, their collaboration a constant dialogue fed by their separate identities but working toward a unified end.
Much of the Bouroullecs’ work is characterized by clean, uncluttered lines and a certain flexibility in use. They posses both a rational approach to the functionality of furniture and a graphic sensibility for fine geometry in space. ‘Distinguished Kitchen,’ on display at the Salon du Meuble in Paris in 1997, was designed for customization by its owners, who could add drawers, worktops, hooks and shelves to the basic frame. This innovative system captured attention of Giulio Cappellini, who has since collaborated with them on numerous projects. In 2000, Issey Miyake commissioned the Bouroullecs to design a shop in Paris for his new collection A-Poc, and later that same year they met Rolf Felbaum, Chairman of Vitra, and began working on a new office furniture system called ‘Joyn’, produced in 2002.
Today they work together with numerous manufacturers such as Authentics, Vitra, Cappellini, Issey Miyake, Magis, Habitat, Domeau & Peres, and Galerie Kreo, as well as working on architectural projects like the Floating House, an artist’s studio commissioned by Le Centre d’Art de Chatou.
The brothers were named Creator of the Year at the Salon de Meuble in Paris, 2002, and have won multiple awards like the New Designer Awards of the International Furniture Fair of New York in 1999, le Grand Prix du Design de la Ville de Paris in 1998 and the First Prize of Saint Etienne Biennale in 1998. In 2003 they were voted designer of the year by Elle Décor, Japan. Their designs are part of the permanent museum collections MoMA New York, the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris and the London Design Museum.
In June 2003, the Luminaire Design Forum presented the Bouroullecs in Chicago during Neocon with a reception and lecture that illustrated why the Bouroullec brothers have become synonymous with contemporary design. For the 2006 Puppy Love exhibition and auction at Luminaire, the Bouroullecs modified a 3D plastic puppy by playfully placing a ‘lighting bone’ in its mouth to raise awareness and funds for cancer research. And for PaperLove in 2008, they interlaced red, yellow, blue, orange, green and pink strips of paper together to create a joyful harlequin elephant, also auctioned to help find a cure for cancer.