Clouds 2008, Kvadrat. Thermocompressed foam, double-injected elastic bands, fabric © Tahon & Bouroullec
Bivouac is a rare exhibition of work by French designers Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec that traces their design career over fifteen years of collaboration and constant evolution. Bivouac, the first major solo show in the United States in almost ten years, is organized by the Centre Pompidou-Metz and highlights their exceptional international career, during which the brothers have become widely recognized as two of the most exciting and innovative designers working today.
On view at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) of Chicago, this exhibition shows how their work is at once conceptual, flexible, and elegant, offering adaptability for diverse and changing environments and spaces. Since they began collaborating in the late 1990s, the Bouroullecs have brought a visionary energy to international contemporary design. They consider their studio to be a laboratory, continually experimenting and evolving their designs and objects. Starting out with industrial design projects, the brothers have become known for revolutionary, sleek objects and designs for the home and office, such as furniture and storage systems.
The title bivouac suggests a temporary encampment, and the design of the gallery spaces offers rich and immersive experiences created and shaped by the Bouroullecs’ work. There are dynamic viewing opportunities of their strikingly beautiful objects that include everyday objects such as chairs, sofas, lamps, and tableware, and more hybrid forms. The immense diversity of their creations are highlighted, allowing visitors to move between prototypes and finished objects, and mass-produced and hand-crafted works. The exhibition also addresses key concepts in the Bouroullecs’ research: objects which are modular, organic, ephemeral, nomadic, and flexible.
This exhibition is energized by these products, some of which fall into a category the brothers call “microarchitecture,” which are items larger than furniture but smaller than architecture. Examples of these include their award-winning Algues, molded plastic branches that can be snapped together to make translucent and organic screens; and the pressed-felt Clouds which can be slotted together to make faceted, multi-colored walls or enclosures.
In line with their focus on flexibility, as well as their desire to defy conventional architectural logic, the Bouroullecs encourage users to organize their space however they like. Their designs are meant to bring versatility into the home. Ronan draws inspiration from nomadic Berber communities, and aims to create works that are simple and subtly practical, ergonomic, and avoid unnecessary waste for the environment. Similarly, Erwan is intrigued by contemporary, technological fabrics such as jersey, memory foam, and elastic to communicate variety and sophistication. Above all else, the Bouroullecs strive for comfort in their objects, and during their multi-decade collaboration they have consistently developed systems and objects that bring refinement, comfort, and revolutionary design into multiple types of spaces.
Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec | Bivouac
Oct. 20, 2012 – Jan. 20, 2013 | Museum of Contemporary Art | Chicago
Ph. (312) 280-2660 | http://www.mcachicago.org/
Raised in Brittany, Ronan Bouroullec (born 1971) and Erwan Bouroullec (born 1976) began working together in 1997. They have worked with the largest and most influential manufacturers in the field: Vitra, Alessi, Axor Hansgrohe, Kartell, Kvadrat, Cappellini… They are also involved in more experimental design with Galerie Kreo, and occasionally work on architectural projects. Named Designers of the Year at the 2002 Paris Furniture Show and the 2011 Maison & Objet show, their awards include the City of Paris Grand Prix du Design (1998), the New Designer Award at the New York International Contemporary Furniture Fair (1999) and the Copenhagen Finn Juhl Prize (2008). They were also awarded this year’s commission to design a contemporary addition to the Gabriel staircase at Château de Versailles. Their work has been shown in a number of solo shows and is in the collections of several museums.