AUG 20 – Frères Bouroullec et Soeurs Nassar

   It must be pretty clear by now that I am a design and architecture buff. I can spend hours reading about it in magazines, books and online. Even most of the articles on my blog are about design! Paris, however, has been criticized in the past couple of years for loosing its touch and creating as much as it used to. I have met a lot of “Non-French” who moved to Paris to study design in these very prestigious school but as soon as they graduate, it’s almost impossible for them to find a job in France, let alone Paris. 

   There are, however, two people that really give me hope in this city, this country. They are Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec. I first heard about them through their Algues project, which I thought was simply brilliant! When placed in a room, it creates a separation while still permitting this free flow of space. It’s practical for small apartment, especially in France, where most people can only afford a studio and one bedroom apartment. 
   The exhibition was a work of art on its own. The Bouroullec brothers had work displayed on every level: from the wall to the floor to the separations. 

   Upon entering the primary  exhibition room, you are welcomed by a 11,5m high installation called Nuages (2002): three layers of thick polyester pieces cut into organic shapes and placed next to one another; carved into them are circles, through which you can see, some however are blocked. This installation was actually prepared for an Issey Miyake exhibition. When looking at this work, you understand the title Nuages/Clouds, because you have a feeling  of looking at something so light; this lightness is enhanced by the chosen material, by the carved in circles that give a feeling of fluidity and finally by the organic shape as a whole. 

Nuages, 2002
Seen from entrance

Nuages, 2002
Detail: passageway

 Nuages, 2002
Detail: circles

Nuages, 2002

Nuages, 2002
Detail: three layers
   I previously wrote that the two designers worked on every level of the space: so as soon as you walk pass their Clouds, you enter the world of Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec, and by that I mean you enter an abnormally big tent, that covers up the entire room, floor to ceiling; it’s called, Tent. It has length of 40,0m, a width of 9,0m and a hight of 11,5m. It’s simply made of white stretched out textile and aluminum to hold it all together; like most of their work, very minimal. They designed it for their exhibition at the Art Decoratifs; their theory is that everything exhibit is a new opportunity to experiment and to use new methods of constructions. The tent also softens the lights and filters the sounds. 
   Because there is a door at the left of the entrance, the Bouroullec placed another 11,5m high installation, this time it was North tiles (2006). It was created for fitting out the Stockholm showroom of the Danish textile manufacturer Kvadrat. Like many of their previous work, the Bouroullec brothers referred to the concept of an “adjustable partition assembled by the user”. North tiles are panels of thermo-compressed fabrics that are opaque and sound proof. They placed it in front of this door to close this space, the first space you enter. 

 North Tiles, 2006
 North Tiles, 2006

   The tent was divided in two with a wall of Algues, which made you want to go around and see what’s going on on the other side of the tent. On the first side, you had an alinement of some of the furniture they designed. Very minimalist and to the point. If they had ornaments on an item, it would be so discreet and “undercover” that it would stand out without actually being a bother, or “in your face”. Most of the furniture is monotonous and usually dark/warm colors (black, brown, dark orange/green…)

 Copenhagen Chair, 2012
Wajna Lamp, 2009

Piani Shelf, 2011

The designs on display

   Before moving on, I need to mention the elephant in the room. Okay it’s not an elephant, it’s the beautiful Algues installation, the work that introduced me to the wonderful world of Bouroullec. Algues comes in many colors, but I think they opted for black, something more neutral considering that everything in this room is already very colorful. This is a majestic project, in my opinion. You, the user, are in total control of literally everything it does: you control the openings, you control the shape, and yet somehow, you end up with something more beautiful that you thought of. It really makes me think that how could something so simple could take on this whole new aspect of modernism, finesse and sophistication? Moreover, the fact that it’s not a flat surface really gives it more life and mystery. 

   As I entered the second room, I couldn’t help but being blown away by the walls: they were filled with A4 drawings and painting, by the Bouroullec. All of these simple and yet amusing drawings (and more) are found in their newly published book Drawing, where you can find 850 drawings made between 2005 and 2012. Aside from the art on the wall, this room accommodated four of their works. 

Some of the drawings

   We begin with Joyn Office System, for Vitra, in 2002: it’s a large rectangular office desk, or working table; the purpose of it is to let people gather around it, work on their own, have their privacy but at the same time be with others and communicate with having to shout or move. Privacy is procured by these short desk-separators made of textile, to soften the seriousness of the workspace. The desk is, of course, fully equipped: they placed an elongated box in the center of the table to place the light, a shelf that goes back and forth between people, hidden plugs…

Joyn Office System, 2002

Joyn Office System, 2002

Joyn Office System, 2002

   The second project of the room was the Workbay, in 2012. It was a follow on their previous office space project, Joyn, but they try to create an enclosed space. It doesn’t contradict the first project but it complements it. Workbay is made of small modular pieces. They created a parallelism between felt panels to soften, and wood and metal for strong structure. Workbay is a place for meeting and concentration. It is fully equipped with lighting and plugs. I sat in there, just to write down a couple of notes, and I was able to focus, and not be distracted. You get plenty of external lighting  since the panels are barely 2m high. It’s a comfortable cubicle.  

Workbay, 2012

Workbay, 2012

Workbay, 2012 / Details of lighting and electricity
   The third work, Cork Table, was also a workspace that, in my opinion, looked like a combination of Joyn and Workbay: each worker has his space, with panels that give him some privacy, but at the same time the panels are not all communicating and you end up with some open spaces. They used cork and it’s, of course, fully equipped. 
Cork Table
Cork Table

Cork Table

   The fourth work was the Alcove High Back Sofa, 2007. The concept is quite simple: they wanted to create a sofa that wasn’t a piece of furniture in a room, but a room of its own in a house. The idea of this design came from a sofa they saw by the garbage with a piece of cardboard placed around it, like to cover it. The backseat is about 1.5m high. Having sat in this, I can tell you that you enter a whole other universe, you are no longer surrounded with people, you are by yourself, sinking in the comfort. 

Alcove High Back Sofa, 2007

Alcove High Back Sofa, 2007

Alcove High Back Sofa, 2007
   The last work of the room was the entire Copenhagen Collection: a wonderful set of tables, chairs, stools… They stuck with the typical scandinavian minimal style, but adding a twist of Bouroullec by slighting curving the edge of the piece of furniture, which gave it more life and a sense of inifinity, a never-ending piece, if you want. 

Copenhagen Collection, details

Copenhagen Collection, details

Copenhagen Collection, the family
   The following step consisted of going back to the second part of the first room, on the other side of the Algues Wall. There were, let’s call them “attractions”. The first one to catch your eye, must be the Textile Field, which is basically a giant mattress divided in three parts: the middle part was lying on the floor, while the pieces on the side were tilted. There were stripes of blue, dark green, light green and grey. All you had to do is take off your shoes, and simply lie there. 

   Standing on Textile Field.

   Amongst the furniture in the second part of the first room, there was the Ploum Sofa, the Piani lamp and Theca storage. Staying true to their minimalist style and “simple colors”, this is another bunch that I find splendid!

Ploum Sofa, 2001

Theca, 2013

   There was also two large walls made out of two of their projects: one of Clouds (2008) and one and Twigs (2004). They have a way around material: they always manage to find very sustainable and material that add character to the design. Let’s face it, the material they used isn’t too sophisticated or too unavailable. They actually tried to build using something accessible and, relatively, simple. Moreover, they have an interesting choice of color, usually for their installations, arranged to look like a wave, and everything just blends in together. They know how to choose the right colors, something that’s not always very easy. Clouds was more between navy blue and white felt panels (very recurring material) and the Twigs was generally light pink, with touches of red, baby blue and light grey, and moving towards a darker blue/grey that eventually become the main color. 

 Clouds, 2008

Twigs, 2004

   The last room was simply a display of many works, from different collection arranged together: from bedrooms to bathrooms to living rooms. Needless to say, they were very true to their style: minimalist yet with a touch of daring. Let me show you some of the classics and some of my favorites. 

Centerpiece, 2001

Lianes, 2002

   So that’s that. Anyway, if you are in Paris or going anytime soon, I urge you to visit it at the Art Decos.
   If you are also in Paris and are taking my advice and going to the Art Decos, you MUST visit the Winshluss exhibition upstairs. 

   He’s a comic artist, a painter, a sculptor, visual artist, musician and director. A true multi-tasker. He worked with Marjane Satrapi on the 2007 Persepolis cartoon film (masterpiece, to watch). He exhibits works of different medias in the Toy gallery of the museum: sculpture, posters, cartoon, animations… He adds a dark twist to all the classics children’s books that we grew up reading. He adapts them to modern situations to mock our society. He’s a very cynical person, with a dark humor. His work is colorful, which actually enhances this humor of his. You can’t help but smile or laugh at everything. He was assigned for this show to create four universes related to war, fairytales, animals and society of consumerism. Okay, just take a look at some of his work, you’ll understand.

The kid with the sausage

Dinosaurs disappeared 5000 years ago

Dinosaurs disappeared 5000 years ago, details
Hensel and Gretel, details


   After such a long day, you have to reward yourself, one way or another. And I did! 
La Patisserie des Reves. Enough said. And I had the Black fruit tarts, something to die for (or of). Check it out:
The display of cakes

Mille feuille, or thousand layers

Paris Brest, voted Best Paris Brest also what my sister had

Black fruits tart, in my garden



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