While the fifteen years of their prolific careers are being celebrated across 1000 square meters in Parisian Centre Pompidou-Metz, the recently-opened 'Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec – Album' exhibition gives a rare, behind-the-scenes glimpse into creative process of France's famous design duo.
Some 300 original drawings and sketches are showcased at the "Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec - Album" exhibition at the Vitra Design Museum Gallery © Vitra Design Museum; photographer Barbara Kern
Some 300 original drawings and sketches are showcased at the "Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec - Album" exhibition at the Vitra Design Museum Gallery © Vitra Design Museum; photographer Barbara Kern×
Instantly recognisable, many considered to be the modern day icons of industrial design, the creations of The Bouroullec brothers’ design powerhouse need no introduction. Launched, presented or exhibited at virtually every self-respecting furniture fair, one would be forgiven for thinking that the last thing the design world needs is yet another showcase of Ronan and Erwan’s unabating creative input.
Album Exhibition © Studio Bouroullec
Album Exhibition © Studio Bouroullec×
Be it the form of the meticulously intertwined, puzzle-like tile concept made of vividly coloured thermocompressed foam, fabric and double injected rubberband, Cloud, or the cleverly engineered but pure in its form plain-wood Osso chair. Yet, if there is one thing missing in the recently-opened at Vitra’s Weil am Rhein Design Museum Gallery exhibition dedicated to the Bretagne-born Paris-based siblings’ work is exactly that, their products.
Model © Studio Bouroullec
Model © Studio Bouroullec×
Quilted textile model © Studio Bouroullec
Quilted textile model © Studio Bouroullec×
There are no chairs (apart from those provided for visitors’ convenience), there are no lamps, nor are there any sofas, bathroom systems or lamps. At least not in their customary, three-dimensional format. Instead, there are drawings, sketches and scribbles. No less than 300 delicately framed pieces densely lining the walls of the gallery.
None of them signed, it is well-nigh impossible to distinguish which of the two brothers is the author of a particular drawing and even the designers themselves admitted that they’re no longer sure as of which illustration was produced under whose hand. Although, when asked about that, Erwan admitted that his are ‘the better ones’ while Ronan’s are, in his own words, ‘more pragmatic.’
Some are simple, banal, almost infantile, other complex and, upon a closer inspection, subtly detailed or razor-sharp precise. Delicately drawn in pencil, reminiscent of an expressionist ink lithographs or insouciantly smudged with a brightly coloured felt-tip pen. A treat for the eye and visual representation of the creative processes behind some of Bouroullecs’ most famous designs, the backdrop of white walls and the gallery environment gives the otherwise abstract works an artistic merit of their own.
Sketch in pencil © Studio Bouroullec
Sketch in pencil © Studio Bouroullec×
Then in the middle of the one-room exhibit space, behind the glossy vitrines of two freestanding cabinets, even more works on- as well as with paper are displayed, complimented by multicoloured quilted textiles, multiple fabric swatches, and stapled-together 3D models in white paper which represent the research and development process of the aforementioned Cloud Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec have developed lin 2008 together with the renowned Danish fabric manufacturer Kvadrat. There’s also a more ambiguous, molecular glass form showcased alongside a spray-painted branch accompanied by additional sketches.
"Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec - Album" exhibition at the Vitra Design Museum Gallery © Vitra Design Museum; photographer Barbara Kern
"Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec - Album" exhibition at the Vitra Design Museum Gallery © Vitra Design Museum; photographer Barbara Kern×
An organically-shaped model © Studio Bouroullec
An organically-shaped model © Studio Bouroullec×
Previously on show at Arc en rêve centre d’architecture in Bordeaux the exhibition runs until June 3 2012, and following the words of Erwan Bouroullec who, when introducing the show together with his brother Ronan to a small group of press said: ‘sketching is a landscape of creative process that takes you away from reality‘, Album is a compact visual treat and a rare, intimate and personal insight into the gist of Bouroullecs’ creative knack.
Chair sketches © Studio Bouroullec
Chair sketches © Studio Bouroullec×
Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec – Album
Vitra Design Museum Gallery, Weil am Rhein
03 February – 03 June 2012
Daily 10am – 6pm
Entry: With a valid museum ticket