Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec: Bivouac

"Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec: Bivouac" is a mid-career exhibition of work by two of the most exciting and innovative designers working today. Born and based in France, the Bouroullecs bring high-tech manufacturing ideas to standard furniture and design formats, such as the communal kitchen table and the basic dining chair, resulting in timeless, straightforward products devoid of trendy gimmicks. The brothers not only design elegant and beautiful objects—chairs, sofas, lamps, tables, and dishware—but they also develop pioneering hybrid forms that defy categorization as they shape space in clever new ways.

James Goggin: I think you could probably say the Bouroullecs are important in the design world, and perhaps just in the world in general, maybe in the same way you might argue that fashion design is important. On the face of it, you could make the case that haute couture or high-end fashion is unaffordable, and is not something for the masses, but it’s always something that establishes a certain direction each season and then gradually becomes more widespread and adopted across society. And I think the same principle has been visible with the work of the Bouroullecs over the last 10–15 years.

Tim Parsons: Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec are product and furniture designers from France and they work in a range of scales, from small, domestic accessories through furniture and to larger-scale pieces. For me the most fascinating thing about the Bouroullecs’ work is that a fleeting appraisal of it might give the sense that it’s really all about style. It’s incredible beautiful; everything is very well considered in terms of its form. Their work tends to be very elegant; color and proportion are very well considered. But really, I’d say it’s not fundamentally about style. It’s fundamentally about rethinking the objects that we live with on a day-to-day basis.

MIchael Darling: The things that they do seem to connect to us on a deeply human level. There’s this immediate recognizability that I think distinguishes them from other contemporary designers that might just be trying to do the most flamboyant thing possible with a chair and I think they take a different approach. I find them never to be gratuitous and always to be very thoughtful about putting anything into the world. It’s already been vetted by both of them against the backdrop of everything else that’s been made. So there’s this integrity there that I think is really unique.

JG: I’ve always like the idea that design has an equal capacity for a critical take on real life in the same way that art does and I think that’s something that the Bouroullecs’ work definitely has built into it: the idea that there’s a constant interrogation of how we live and the spaces that we occupy.