Children of the 1970s, the Bouroullec brothers have been on the design radar barely 12 years. They hardly seem ripe for a retrospective. But when you consider their award-winning work is being collected by the Centre Pompidou, MoMA, Design Museum and Musée des Arts Décoratifs - most of the world's top art and design institutions - it seems a wonder a proper tribute has taken so long.
For their first major retrospective, Ronan and Erwan will occupy 1,500sq m of the Centre Pompidou-Metz with their designs for Vitra, Alessi, Established & Sons, Cappellini... the list goes on. Their high-profile homewares will be there, including pieces like this year's Piani tray/lamp for Flos and the beloved Steelwood collection for Magis. But the exhibit will also focus on research projects and installations - like the 2008 Clouds project for the fabric manufacturer Kvadrat, a series of fabric tiles that can be joined by rubber bands, which the brothers used in a mural for the company's head office in Copenhagen.
Didier Krzentowski, co-owner of Galerie Kreo, the Paris gallery behind the brothers, says the exhibit will give visitors an unusually up-close-and-personal experience with the timeline of the designs. 'In most museums or galleries, design is quite difficult to see,' he says. 'What is great about Metz is that you will be able to sit on the couches, for example. It's a huge space, but there is no distance between you and the objects, so you can see how good they are.'
Of the brothers' prolific output for Kvadrat, which takes up a section of its own, Krzentowski says: 'A lot of their work is architectural. Each piece is like a small house.'
He adds that visitors will be hard pressed to spot an evolution in the brothers' style or talent. 'There is no difference between designs of ten years ago and the designs of now - they were very fresh from the start and continue to be.'