After more than a quarter century of collaborating, Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec have ended their creative partnership. The brothers recently moved out of their shared Parisian studio, each opting to set up shop individually.
Image: Alexandre Tabaste
As for why they're splitting up, the Times reports:
"Erwan, 47, said that creation was 'a burning energy, like you burn from the desire of making something. The pressure was not possible anymore for us to cope with.'
"Both brothers spoke of their tendency to clash energetically (and according to several accounts, publicly) as a constructive force that had become corrosive. They fought over the legions of details, large and small, that arise in the long and ponderous process of turning a sketch into a mass-manufactured object.
"'It was sometimes funny, they really had big arguments and shouting during work sessions,' recalled Rolf Fehlbaum, the chairman emeritus of Vitra, the Swiss producer of many Bouroullec classics. 'It was not embarrassing to them that everybody could listen, but it was useful. They were productive fights.'
"Ronan said of their skirmishes, 'No one who was not a brother could have faced it.' At a certain point, he added, the confrontations became disabling 'because I think both of us already fight with ourselves.'"
It doesn't mean the brothers are quitting design, of course; instead they will hire out as individuals. To some extent this has happened already, allowing us to guess which parts of their earlier designs were likely from Ronan and which from Erwan. The brothers each recently designed lighting for Italian manufacturer Flos under their own names, and their descriptions of what they were going for is revealing.
The handmade Ceramique line of lamps is by Ronan, who stated: "I wanted the final design to express a poetic language, but what I also wanted was to achieve simplicity, a lamp made of just one piece of ceramic."
The more technical-looking Emi lamps below are by Erwan, whose description reads: "The Emi light is a new lighting expression that combines several invisible sources to create a paradoxical experience: light from shadow. We really like the intriguing contrast of the Emi light, which combines a deep, dark matte body that appears to be a void with powerful invisible sources that provide efficient and effective illumination to both the ceiling and the floor. Emi is a silhouette made of shadow that provides light."
To grossly oversimplify, it could be said that Ronan is the more artistic of the two, whereas Erwan is more technical-minded. As the brothers Bouroullec continue down their individual paths, we will undoubtedly see their designs diverge, filling out the above statement with more nuance.
In the meantime, Ronan's individual Instagram is here, Erwan's, here.
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