Book List of the Week

A Marvelous Repertoire: Ronan Bouroullec’s Book List

By Steve Kroeter September 25, 2012

Ronan Bouroullec

Product designer Ronan Bouroullec: Atelier Bouroullec, Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec (Paris)

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Partners for over a decade, Ronan Bouroullec together with his brother, Erwan, have created innovative designs for products ranging from furniture, lamps, tableware, and textiles to architectural projects, exhibition catalogues and, recently, an iPad application.

Ronan Bouroullec’s book list for Designers & Books reveals some of the varied ideas and sources of inspiration (art, architecture, Japanese crafts) that inform the Bouroullec brothers’ work. On Ronan’s list is artist Donald Judd’s Raume Spaces, which documents Judd’s transformation of the interiors of his famed workplaces in New York and Marfa, Texas, through his architectural forms and furniture designs. Bouroullec comments, “It was the first art book I ever bought. It has remained the most important one for me especially because of the relationship of Judd’s highly refined pieces to the rustic interiors.” Also on the list is Takeji Iwamiya’s Katachi: A Picture Book of Traditional Japanese Workmanship, which presents a photographic catalogue of objects, including door handles, canoes, musical instruments, and shoes. A further source of visual inspiration is Alexander Girard’s The Magic of a People: Folk Art and Toys from the Collection of the Girard Foundation, a book Ronan Bouroullec regards as “a marvelous repertoire.”

Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec: Works, 2012 (Phaidon Press)

Earlier this year, Phaidon Press published its second monograph of the Bouroullec brothers’ designs. Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec: Works by Anniina Koivu and Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec. The book is a comprehensive guide to the Bouroullecs’ portfolio of objects, which find a unique balance between experimentation, handcrafted qualities, and practicality. The brothers’ designs have been produced for major companies such as Kartell, Vitra, Ligne Roset, Kvadrat, Cappellini, Flos, Alessi, Magis, and Hans Grohe, as well as in limited-edition pieces, such as those created for Galerie Kreo in Paris.

This balancing act also surfaces in another title on Ronan Bouroullec’s book list—Sori Yanagi Design, which documents the work of one of the major Japanese designers of the postwar era, who combined Western industrial designs with organic forms and Japan’s artisanal traditions. Bouroullec recalls in his book list comment about the Yanagi monograph, designed by Yanagi himself: “Over the past 15 years, I have looked at this book almost once a month, but it was not until recently that discovered that there were some translations from Japanese into English. The book is so clear and precise that I never required any further explanation beyond the images to understand the meaning of his work.”

Clouds, textile wall system designed by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec for Kvadrat, 2009. From Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec: Works, 2012. Courtesy of Phaidon Press
Erwan (left) and Ronan Bouroullec, 2009. Photo © Ola Rindal

Note: An exhibition of the Bouroullec brothers’ work, “Ronan and Erwan Bouroullac: Bivouac,” opens at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (MCA), October 20, 2012. Initiated by the Centre Pompidou-Metz (France) earlier this year, the MCA exhibition will be on view through January 20, 2013. The catalogue of the exhibition was designed by the Bouroullecs.

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