Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec: Bivouac is a mid-career exhibition of work by two of the most exciting and innovative designers working today. Born and based in France, the Bouroullecs bring high-tech manufacturing ideas to standard furniture and design formats, such as the communal kitchen table and the basic dining chair, resulting in timeless, straightforward products devoid of trendy gimmicks. The brothers not only design elegant and beautiful objects—chairs, sofas, lamps, tables, and dishware—but they also develop pioneering hybrid forms that defy categorization as they shape space in clever new ways. The title of the show is inspired by this multipurpose hybridity, as a bivouac is a lightweight encampment or shelter that can be adapted to its environment just as Bouroullec products are activated by their end-users and the spaces they inhabit.
Installation view, Bivouac, Centre Pompidou-Metz, France; October 7, 2011 - July 30, 2012; Photo © studio Bouroullec
Many of the Bouroullecs’ products can be described as “microarchitecture”—items larger than furniture but smaller than architecture. Their award-winning Algues are molded plastic branches that can be snapped together to make translucent and organic screens. Their pressed felt Clouds can be slotted together to make multifaceted, colorful walls or enclosures. In Bivouac, the MCA galleries are enlivened and divided by these products, including specially designed pedestals on which the brothers’ smaller-scale works are displayed. This signature approach to interior space creates a rich and immersive environment in which to view objects large and small from across their career.
The Bouroullecs work with the largest and most influential manufacturers in the design field—including Kartell, Vitra, Ligne Roset, Kvadrat, Cappellini, Magis, and Hans Grohe—to invent innovative solutions for cost saving, sustainability, and the preservation of traditional craft techniques. As such, Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec: Bivouac continues MCA Chicago’s longstanding commitment to presenting architecture and design–themed exhibitions that point to relevant issues of our time.
The exhibition is organized by the Centre Pompidou–Metz and is overseen in Chicago by Michael Darling, James W. Alsdorf Chief Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.