It's no secret that we're a bit in awe of Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec here at Wallpaper* HQ.
The totemic design duo – and co-recipients of this year's Wallpaper* Design Awards 'Designer of the Year' accolade – have long been trend-setters and ground-breakers, with a multifaceted practice spanning furniture and architecture through urban planning and jewellery (and more).
Thus, a new retrospective on the brothers' work is always call for some small celebration. Until August, the denizens of Brittany will be privy to a host of Bouroullec projects in the form of 'Exhibition in Rennes: Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec', their first exhibition in the region. Held across Les Champs Libres, the Frac Bretange contemporary art museum and Le parlement de Bretagne, the show is conceived as two parts.
The first comprises a 20-year retrospective of industrial projects between the eponymous studios and heavyweight design-world manufacturers such as Alessi, Magis, Kvadrat, Vitra, Artek and Samsung (the recent 'Serif' TV collaboration also won the Wallpaper* award for 'Best Domestic Design'). The display of furniture and domestic wares is complemented by an array of procedural ephemera drawn from the studio's archive, from development notebooks to scale models.
'Urban Reveries' – installed at Les Champs Libres – comprises the duo's first municipal landscape design. A wealth of dioramic architectural models evoke beguiling new public places, sparsely set with rocky outcrops, elevated sculptural streams and gardens, and other reinvented 'urban patterns' – 'a wandering or urban dreaming based on a reflection of the city layout', the studio explains.
2015's 'Le Kiosque' is located in the parliament courtyard. The Prouvé-channelling box – created in powder-coated steel, with an oak interior and overhanging roof – first appeared in Paris' Tuileries last October, a movable modular wonder originally conceived as a tool to integrate art in public places. Even without the surprise of the new, it still intrigues. (Here, the kisok is paired with 'Palissade', an offering of outdoor furniture designed in collaboration with Hay.)
Finally, '17 Screens' is an abstract display of hanging screens and a foray into the melding of 3D printing with more conventional production methods. Previously on show at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, the futuristic constructions of glass, ceramic, wood and aluminium rods – as well as curtains of cup-like mouldings created by ceramics innovators Mutina and sheets of patterned textile – are as abstract a concept as we've seen from the Bouroullecs. (It's a little less Tron than the Tel Aviv layout, but this is still very much set within the liminal space between design and art – a masterful exercise in creating 'experimental and atmospheric modules’.)
Collectively, the show is a keenly-curated mixture of old and new – simultaneously affording a reassessment of design classics while hinting at more outré directions to come. As always, we're piqued.