Quimper, France, c. 1982: The Bouroullec brothers’ first collaboration is launched into the world. It is a football goal frame, produced over a weekend while their parents are away. “We started with a plank of wood, and then set to nailing it—but we didn’t have the right nails; the wood was too hard,” says Erwan Bouroullec. He was perhaps six at the time; his brother, Ronan, who dreamed of becoming a professional footballer, maybe 11. They’ve figured out a few things since then.A guest feature by Freunde von Freunden.
Erwan und Ronan Bouroullec's studio is midway along a notably undramatic street in northeastern Paris, a few minutes’ walk from the Place de la République. Inside, the three level space hums with activity; it is part office, laboratory, library, wood shop, and archive, with examples of the greatest hits from two decades of collaboration with brands like Vitra, Cappellini, and Samsung, mixed in with the tools of the trade: an antique sewing machine, power tools, a 3D printer. The harmony of their portfolio belies—and perhaps capitalizes upon—two different approaches to the primacy of design. A quartet of exhibitions covering a huge range of work—from product design to urban planning—is on view in Rennes, the administrative and cultural capital of their Breton homeland, through late August; here, they (separately) discuss the ongoing tension between mass versus craft, the problems with a 100€ spoon, and why they never formed a band.