New exhibition celebrates collaborations of French designers, Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec

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New exhibition celebrates collaborations of French designers, Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec
"Clouds (370),” 2009, by designed by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec. Made by Kvadrat, Ebeltoft, Denmark. 100% new wool, dimensions variable. © Studio Bouroullec.

PHILADELPHIA, PA.- This fall, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is presenting Circus: Bouroullec Designs, featuring the work of leading contemporary designers, the brothers Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec (b. France, 1971, and 1976). The title of the exhibition is inspired by their lively design sense and creative spirit: Circus is a visual parade of designs for furniture, lighting, textiles, glass, ceramics, and room partition systems. These qualities illuminate the brothers’ minimal and refined visual language, combined with their thoughtful approach to materials that merges traditional methods with the possibilities of modern engineering. Collab, the museum’s affiliate group for modern and contemporary design, will honor Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec with its prestigious Collab Design Excellence Award with an in-person presentation and celebration in the spring.

The Bouroullecs are designers who bring flexibility, creativity, comfort, and visual appeal to their multidimensional designs. This exhibition showcases about forty works, largely conceived and created in the last decade, that are poetic in spirit yet practical in their attention to sustainability and cost-efficiency and that are rooted in a deep understanding and respect for traditional craft.

Among the highlights are a special large-scale installation of the “Cloud” system, made by Kvadrat, and a work made from their new “Bloc” ceramic bricks, produced by Mutina. Also included are original models for recent projects that explore striking interconnections between urban settings, architecture, and nature, such as the balletic set of fountains at the Rond-Point des Champs-Elysées in Paris, which consist of six 42-feet-high illuminated bronze and crystal structures that slowly revolve as their vertical forms cascade water into the basins below; the dramatic interventions around the new Bourse de Commerce, home to the Pinault Collection in Paris; and Le Belvédère, in the River Vilaine, Rennes.

Jack Hinton, the Henry P. McIlhenny Curator of European Decorative Arts and Sculpture at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, who curated the exhibition, said: “Erwan and Ronan’s unique creativity, playful design sense and deep appreciation of materials and their effects are what set these designers apart. They are remarkably forward-thinking, pushing the boundaries of what contemporary design can offer as an experience. We are delighted to collaborate so closely with them and to share their recent work with audiences in Philadelphia and beyond.”

Born in Quimper, Brittany, the brothers completed their studies at the École supérieure des Arts décoratifs in Paris and École nationale supérieure des Arts in Cergy and started their joint practice in the late 1990s. Based in Paris, their practice encompasses furniture, lighting, textiles, jewelry, ceramics and glass, drawings and photography, room partition systems and architecture. Their works have been widely disseminated in production with manufacturers including Alessi, Artek, Cassina, Established & Sons, FLOS, Glas Italia, HAY, Iitalla, Kvadrat, Magis, Mattiazzi, Mutina, Samsung, Vitra, and WonderGlass.

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