BALANCE AND SHAPE: THE BOUROULLEC BROTHERS
They describe their collaboration as a permanent dialogue cultivated by two distinct personalities, and united by design principles of shape, balance and finesse. Alice Blackwood speaks with the Bouroullec brothers
“We are five years in difference,” says Erwan Bouroullec of himself and brother Ronan. “But we both engaged in art school. For my brother it was clearer that he’d go into design. For me, it was less clear… it was important to me to have a creative life.”
The brothers inspect the craftsmanship of the Losanges rug
As young designers in Paris the two met Giulio Cappellini, and went on to produce their first ever project for Cappellini – an experience which would inform their practice in years to come.
“They were really open minded, so we could try a lot of things. Some of them ended in products, some only made it to prototype. It was quite an open-minded way of experimenting with concepts – [like] a research lab. And I think it gave us a lot of freedom in the way we consider what can be a product,” says Erwan.
One of their most recent and internationally recognised projects is the Axor Bouroullec bathroom range. Erwan describes this as an “efficient” collection, in that it deals with reality, is easily workable for the everyday user, and not necessarily based on new technology. “One of the key points is the balance between all the elements,” Erwan says.
In developing the bathroom collection, the brothers began with a set of edgy shapes. “A turning point for us was to develop a shape with a more human element” – to better suit the end user. This freed the shapes up to be more organic, softer, and also “sensual”.
This year at the Milan Furniture Fair the brothers launched a series of new products, including the ‘Osso’ chair for Italian brand Mattiazzi. Like the bathroom range, this wooden seat exudes a classicism and balance, with that organic softness of shape and form that is inherent in the Bouroullecs’ work.
“What I like is that the shape [comes from] the problematic elements of wood milling,” says Erwan. “It’s made out of plain wood. Of course you are afraid of throwing masses away, and it’s why the chair is made of four panels – it’s an efficient way of using less wood in order to make more shapes.”