Ronan Bouroullec (born 1971) and Erwan Bouroullec (born 1976) grew up in the country in Brittany, where the Bouroullec family has farmed for generations. Thus, a future as designers was not the most obvious choice. But ever since his teenage years, Ronan has had a passion for design, and Erwan insisted on going to the art academy and assisting his brother on some of his first projects. That was the beginning of a highly productive partnership with their brotherhood as an essential part of this French designer duo’s success. Among many honors, the most recently is the “Designer of the Year” Award in Wallpaper* Design Awards 2016.
Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec have an ongoing dialogue, where they are consistently able to challenge each other and the current project by virtue of their different personalities. According to the brothers, their best designs usually stem from differences of opinion. The brothers share a unique sense of materials, a persistent focus on details and a passion for achieving the best possible outcome.
Diversity and variation
While some designers and architects have a very stringent approach, Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec enjoy diversity and variation. They move between large and small scales, between simple expressions and explosions of colour and between mass-produced designs and hand-made one-offs.
Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec are also regularly involved in architectural projects. This includes store designs for Camper in Paris, Copenhagen and Rome and the design of Kvadrat’s showrooms in Stockholm and Copenhagen.
In connection with the two showrooms for Kvadrat, Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec used Douglas planks from Dinesen after falling immediately for the high level of quality and exquisite craftsmanship. Hence, the solid Douglas planks also played a natural role in the brothers’ first major retrospective exhibition, “Bivouac” (2011/12), and Dinesen is also represented at their new exhibition in Brittany, that once again looks back in time. Dinesen Douglas is included in the display of their more industrial products.
“Dinesen works with passion in the search of higher quality wood. They look for the best logs with the best origins and as a Japanese chef who made the best sushi, Dinesen models wood in a simple and sophisticated way”.
Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec
The work of this unique design duo covers a wide range, from tables, to chairs, to tableware, to rugs, to textile walls and room dividers, to office furniture, to ceramics, to artistic objects, limited edition designs and urban projects. In addition to Dinesen, Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec have worked with many leading and innovative firms including Vitra, Flos, Kvadrat, Magis, Mutina, Ligne Roset, Hay, and, not least, Cappellini, which back in 1997 was the first to spot the Bouroullec brothers’ unique talent.
The world as seen through pencil and crayons
Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec spend hours drawing to get at the true nature of an object. Using pencil, ball-point pen, felt-tip pen and crayons in a wide range of colours. The drawings are a natural part of the design process, but they are also an elementary part of the brothers’ life. A way of grasping and interpreting the world through moving, unfolding, repeated patterns. Where fantasies and abstractions take on a life of their own – perhaps eventually inspiring a new design or improving on an existing idea.
While the drawings were once tucked away or maybe even discarded, they have over the years come to constitute an independent part of the brothers’ work and have been the object of a recent exhibition, “Album,” which among other places has been displayed at the Vitra Design Museum. In their coffee table book “Drawing,” Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec have singled out more than 850 drawings for print, thus giving the readers access to a puzzling world.
Design with feeling and meaning
The Bouroullec brothers take a highly intuitive approach to design. It all begins with the drawings, where Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec’s different perceptions of the world take shape. Next follows a process of shaping, sewing, gluing, drawing (again) and making calculations as they work with their assistants to produce models and eventually prototypes to be tested in their studio in Paris, which functions most of all as a laboratory.
The feel of materials is a crucial aspect. How will it feel to touch the sofa, the lamp or the tap with one’s hand? The brothers test the feel and sensory perception of the object and attempt to integrate a degree of flexibility in the design to make both form and material adapt to the human body.
Good design, according to the two Bouroullec brothers, is a complex interaction of comfort and beauty, technology and craftsmanship, sense and sensibility, and they are constantly striving to push the envelope instead of simply repeating themselves. It is essential for them that all of their designs should add something new and convey and evoke emotions. They should speak to the heart. Like many other creative people they feel a sense of responsibility to help improve the world and make it a better place to live.