Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec at the Centre Pompidou Metz: design for nomads
They just want to play
A recently opened solo exhibition at the new branch of Paris’s Centre Pompidou shows a selection of the French brothers’ works from the last fifteen years. The more than 1,000 m² of space in Gallery 3 of the Centre Pompidou Metz, which was designed by architects Shigeru Ban and Jean de Gastine, serves the brothers an enormous playground. The two designers have juxtaposed products from Vitra, Magis, Alessi, Established & Sons, Axor Hansgrohe, Kartell, Kvadrat, Cappellini and Ligne Roset without establishing any immediately obvious scenographic link between them. The only thing that seems to connect the works, installations and experiments is an element of playfulness. Perhaps it takes a hall of this size to reveal the extent to which the designers play not just with the scale of the objects and the viewers’ expectations, but with the space itself as well.
Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec have named their exhibition “Bivouac” – an apt choice: “Design is part of the everyday environment that surrounds us. With this exhibition, we are making one of the constant difficulties of our work experienceable: the search for contemporary ways of furnishing spaces. All the partitions and the various pieces of furniture that structure this presentation were conceived as nomadic elements. Our studio is full of ongoing projects, so you could say this bivouac is something like our temporary quarters.”
The huge size of the gallery certainly benefits the perception of their work. Whether it’s the room divider systems Algues (Vitra) and Clouds (Kvadrat), the shelving units Self Shelf (Vitra) and Brick (Cappellini), the Alcove sofa and office furniture system Joyn (both Vitra) or the lamps Liane (Galerie Kreo) and Piani (Flos) – their products create their own space, generating intimacy in the midst of boundless surroundings without restricting, creating security from the outside world without isolating. For the outside world is not hostile. The Bouroullecs’ universe is open, full of surprises and potential just waiting to be discovered. Anybody that wants to see the world through the eyes of a child again, full of sensuousness and the fun of the objects, although of course without a child’s naivety, should definitely take a trip to Metz. There’s plenty of time: the exhibition runs until 30th July 2012.