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April 25 2014

as a fight

Photo 1: Portrait of the Bouroullec brothers, 2013 Palace of Versailles Copyright Studio Bouroullec. Photo2: Drawings of Gabriel chandelier, 2013 Palace of Versailles Copyright Studio Bouroullec

Françoise Spiekermeier

Like a cook or a starred chef working magic with ingredients, designers and brothers Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec tackle techniques and materials like flavors, flavors

that they play around with in order to reveal a non-written culture, a knowledge of the unconscious object that is difficult to formulate or identify, each with its own culture of almost indefinable objects. And they are highly sensitive to materials – wood, plastic, metal – which they react to like Proust does to Madeleines…

Four projects at Milan Design Week.

Returning to Paris after Milan, the Bouroullec brothers spent some time in their atelier in the 10th arrondissement of Paris to showcase their latest achievements including the four projects they presented at Milan Design Week 2014: “Uncino”, a collection of wooden chairs for the Italian company Mattiazzi, “Officina”, a collection of tables with wrought iron legs, enabled by new geometry to support tops of different sizes and materials, for the Italian brand Magis, “Diapositive”, a set of glass furniture produced by Glas Italia and finally “Canal”, “Moraine” and “Gravel”, a collection of 3D fabrics for Danish manufacturer of upholstery fabrics Kvadrat, awarded the Elle Decoration International Awards ( EDIDA 2014) prize.

The amazing creativity of the Bouroullec brothers.

The collaboration of the Bouroullec brothers is based on a very particular way of working. This fraternal pair’s complementary nature hides a sometimes painful confrontation of ideas for pruning, simplifying, and eliminating the superfluous; a constant back and forth between 3D modeling, mock-ups, plasticine models and sketches. At the heart of this device, drawing is present at all stages of the project: punctuation, opening , wandering , energy, drawing constantly reshapes the form to preserve the intuitive dimension of the finished object . To get lost in the drawing, the outline trembles full of uncertainty, in order to better reach the goal. “Their delicate and incomplete nature allows us to express special flavors that are needed to fight against the sometimes blinding hyper- rationality of the industry,” they say. Marking the beginning, middle and end of projects, drawings form a loop, and translate obsessions and abstractions; human figures escape themselves and their approximation occasionally gives rise to a new idea that “we hasten to draw”.

The Gabriel chandelier at the Château de Versailles: a contemporary piece of work made from thousands of crystals that illustrates the “material culture” of the Bouroullec brothers.

For them, the role of designer reveals a “culture of material” and its technical implementation, quite intimate emotions related to the detail of an object and its manufacturing, touching on the universal.

A perfect example of this is without a doubt the Gabriel chandelier that took its place at Versailles on November 11, 2013. This contemporary piece of work by Swarovski, permanently illuminates the double staircase designed in 1772 by Jacques-Ange Gabriel. The chandelier is made of three strings, each consisting of hundreds of blocks of crystal illuminated by LEDs which give off a soft light. These huge lines form an organic flexible design governed by the laws of gravity. The crystal provides a link with the past, as historically all of Versailles chandeliers were made with this material. It blends with history with a contemporary vision.
“Like chandeliers that support thousands of small light sources in the form of candles, the Gabriel chandelier is filled with LEDs, around 10,000 tiny sources of light, and provides an extremely soft and enveloping light that responds well to the quality of the stone, the walls and resembles the effect of thousands of flickering candles very closely”, explain the Bouroullec Brothers. “Everyone says the chandelier reminds them of a necklace. They say it looks like the natural fall of a necklace. Then they don’t really know what it is, but their eye, their memory, deep in their minds, said to them… “It is crystal and in the Hall of Mirrors, they are everywhere…” They seek not necessarily to please people, but to create things that are adequate, not even timeless, but over a relatively long time, are able to overcome the zeitgeist.”

The necklace shape of the Gabriel chandelier has something disturbing about it. Why, after a semantic shift, does the chandelier become a necklace in the mind of its creators? Can the creative process happen so unconsciously that it transcends the conscious to express a meta-message shared by other voices? Because why not see a form resembling the Queen’s Necklace in the Gabriel chandelier? This diamond necklace, a real, brightly shining diamond necklace that, in 1785, wrongly implied Queen Marie-Antoinette in a scandal of lavish spending, reinforces the deep disapproval of the royal family which led to the French revolution of 1789. The Gabriel chandelier, like an unexpected gust of wind, a memory, a subversive touch on the walls of the Palace… unconsciously echoing the collective history.
Circles: an iPad application available for download on Itunes offers a database of 200 drawings and sketches that people can use and admire to immerse themselves in the world of work by the Bouroullec brothers.

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