The Bouroullec Brothers in Japan
Well-known for their clean lines and playful, minimalist designs, Erwan and Ronan Bouroullec breathe life into objects, making them both elegant and useful. When Ronan traveled to the Noto Peninsula in the Horuriku region of Japan, he brought with him the brothers’ trademark sensibility to see beyond the visceral and inspire emotion. Falling in love with the lacquer ware technique of Wajima, the brothers began working with Japanese craftsmen to explore this alluring material, honoring the Wajima tradition and to discover how it speaks to their own personal experiences.
Four simple designs arose from this thoughtful study of lacquer. With its smooth texture in small, handheld form, an inviting mirror emphasizes that the sensation of the material is just as important as its appearance. Seductively soft curves compose a double lunch tray with a lid and dish of exactly the same size and shape. Held together with magnets, each side may be used at once by two people, for eating and for a multitude of other purposes. Both mirror and tray are inscribed with a unique symbol using the Wajima ‘chinkin’ method, tying each piece together as part of the same ‘design family.’
With grace and whimsy, the two Piani lamps highlight the magnificence of lacquer. In the first piece, a luminous box emits a subtle, red glow. The bottom of its hollow center serves as a tray to display one’s useful and precious belongings. Similarly, the desk lamp draws on the form of a tray. With this piece, light shines from a rectangular source above another rectangular platform. Here, the bottom becomes a tray, a convenient place to keep small, easy-to-grab items. The use of LED technology in both lamps reinvents the Wajima practice, representing the contemporary and global possibilities of lacquer with a hint at Japanese tradition.
While Japan’s devastating 2011 earthquake did not have a large impact on the Horuriku region, projects such as these bring attention to the country’s strong cultural traditions and help create dialogues between East and West, highlighting the interconnectedness we share.
The Piani lamps are currently the only Wajima objects in production. We invite you to explore these lamps and many other Bouroullec pieces available at Luminaire, both in our showrooms and online.