At smow we have a particular soft spot for Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec and so it is especially pleasing that we can recommend an exhibition of their work currently on display at Grand Hornu in the Belgian region of Hainaut, close to the border with France.
Grand Hornu is 19th century mining complex which has been creatively restored and today serves as a centre for culture, tourism and technology – and so it is particularly appropriate that it is playing host to “Etapes” and exhibition devoted to the work of les frères Bouroullec.
The press release speaks from the suggestive title of the show “Etapes” -“Stages” – one the hand hand implying the “Stages”of design development from idea to product; but also in the theatrical sense – the show being the first occasion on which Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec have publicly displayed their drawings.
But what interests us is the work itself and that Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec are one of the most creative and imaginative designer duos working in Europe today. Their work is undeniably “modern” albeit without the understatement of Jasper Morrison or the irreverence of Phillipe Stark, and more the ambition of Le Corbusier and the pragmatism of the Ray and Charles Eames.
Most closely associated with Vitra for whom they have produced some of their most important work, including the Slow Chair or Worknest, Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec have also created projects for Kvadrat, Magis and Kartell – among others.
Not that the brothers are resting on their laurels. Both their new chair for Vitra “Vegetal“, which follows the tradition of their Algue room divider by combing synthetic materials with natural forms, and their innovative tiling concept “Clouds” for Kvadrat look set to move the brothers a further rung up the “star designer” ladder.
“Etapes” is a wonderful opportunity to get to know the brothers and their work a little better, in a relaxed and unhurried environment away from the bright lights of the big cities. It maybe your last chance!