Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec grew up in the French countryside and moved to Paris after completing their educations. As studio partners since the 1990s, the brothers value what their relationship brings to their work. “The fact that we can discuss everything openly and honestly with each other is important because often creativity does not come from a rational point of view but an emotional one,” says Erwan. “It’s about finding a certain balance when you are looking for solutions to problems that are difficult to solve.”
The design process itself they liken to any of the arts: using one’s talents to make something people enjoy and appreciate. “As with a guitarist who uses six strings to create something marvelous, a stitch placed just so on a pillow brings real beauty to it,” says Erwan. The two credit design greats from the past with giving them a solid foundation. “To me, contemporary design stands atop two massive columns. One was created by the American designers like Eames, who was so innovative in the ’40s and ’50s and whose use of technology made an incredible impact,” says Erwan. “And the other is made up of the Italian designers of the ’70s and ’80s, who created a whole new typology for modern living.”
One of their goals with the Steelwood furniture group for Magis was to find an affordable alternative to plastic. “We needed to reduce the complexity of wood assembling, so we kept our design simple,” says Ronan. “And we wanted something that would appeal to everyone, that would say, ‘I am a well-constructed, beautiful object, one that will grow old quite nicely with you.’ Not just something they use but something they are happy to have around them.”
Creating the Osso chair for Mattiazzi, “Our intention was to let the sensuality of the wood express itself,” says Erwan. “The chair invites people to touch it, as it is extremely sculpted and polished.”
The Bouroullecs have collaborated with numerous furniture and product manufacturers, including Vitra, Kvadrat, Kartell, Alessi, and Cappellini. Their work is part of museum collections including Centre Pompidou and the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, MoMA in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Design Museum in London.