Le style Bouroullec

The Bouroullec style

The Bouroullec brothers in Rennes

It’s all about brotherly artistry. From their training to their very conception of what it means to be a designer, Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec differ in many respects. But despite not coming to the profession from the same starting point, the two brothers managed to join together to create an inimitable style that is widely acclaimed.

A desire to make the world more beautiful

When you hear your heart go “Ploum”, you know you’ve fallen in love with the famous Bouroullec sofa. The Bouroullec style is the result of different viewpoints coming together in the middle of a lounge, in living spaces, in far-flung corners of the globe. Ronan and Erwan are not just related by blood; they also have the same fervent desire to make the world a more beautiful place.

It’s a noble mission in an era in which “we are surrounded by objects of debatable taste that are ugly or poorly designed,” explains Ronan, shedding light on the problem (with a little help from the Bouroullecs’ revolutionary AIM pendant lamp).

Les frères Bouroullec

Brittany : a universal approach with celtic roots

Although the Bouroullec brothers currently take their inspiration from the cosmopolitan neighbourhood of Belleville in Paris, they have never forgotten their Breton origins. And now they are coming back to their roots. Breton traditionalists may be disappointed, but the Bouroullec brothers have never gone in for conventional Brittany-style furniture.

It would have been too much of a cliché – they’re more about flexibility, modularity, and above all universality. But it’s hard to avoid the allusion to a ship’s lantern in some of the Bouroullecs’ light fittings; and it’s impossible not to feel a twinge of nostalgia when you see the lobster cage floating gently on the surface of the collective Breton memory. Completing the round-up of local coastal references, there is the “Algue” series. And then of course there’s the “Lit Clos”, a reinterpretation of the Breton box-bed… So although Brittany may seem far away, it is unmistakeably present – not as a strict Breton style, but in the raw materials, the primary colours: “I have a very close relationship with my region,” confirms Ronan. “I miss Brittany; I love my region, although I hate the idea of regionalism.”

The Bouroullec brothers wanted to keep themselves as far removed as possible from clichéd images of Brittany and have always refused offers to exhibit their work in the region – which makes the event scheduled to start at the end of March in Rennes all the more meaningful.

“Brittany is an extremely fragile treasure. It needs to be preserved – and also invented.” (1390s)

Designs that switch between interior and exterior

It’s not a case of day and night or fire and ice – it’s more yin and yang: two brothers united by their differences and by a plethora of skills. Theirs is a constant dichotomy between the need for formal precision and the desire for freedom of use. Their designs are contextual, not restricted by scale; they switch easily between interior and exterior, object and space, industry and craftsmanship, video and photography – not forgetting the basis of it all: drawing.

Perfectly aligned on the shelves of their workshops in Belleville are dozens of exercise books full of sketches – thousands of hand-drawn motifs reminding us of the origins of the Bouroullecs’ world: “For us, drawing is fundamental, both to encourage reflection and as a means of escapism. Several years can go by between a sketch and the arrival of the completed product in a shop window.”

A simple, direct approach

Do they see some objects as having more value than others? “We believe that a simple door handle or a huge chandelier for a château have the same value. Design offers us a wonderful palette of different media that we embrace fully.” Ronan continues: “Style? The aim is not to have one. If you talk about style, it suggests a lack of risk-taking, a lack of innovation.

” If we dig a bit further, we do manage to tease out a few adjectives that characterise the Bouroullec DNA: “lightness”, “tension”, “restraint”, “simplicity”. We would add “sensuality”, “versatility” and a host of other epithets that perfectly reflect our aesthetes. “I often hear our work described as minimalist, which isn’t the case. I would tend to say that our approach is simple and direct.” “Placing a rug in an empty room has the same effect as lighting a fire,” concludes Erwan. It looks like their passion for their work isn’t about to be snuffed out any time soon.

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