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Clouds (370), 2009, by designed by Ronan Bouroullec and Erwan Bouroullec

Clouds (370), 2009, designed by Ronan Bouroullec (French, born 1971) and Erwan Bouroullec (French, born 1976). Made by Kvadrat, Ebeltoft, Denmark. © Studio Bouroullec


Circus: Bouroullec Designs

November 20, 2021–May 30, 2022

Explore the work of brothers Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, leading figures in contemporary industrial design and recipients of the 2021 Collab Design Excellence Award. For more than twenty years, the Bouroullecs have created innovative, playful designs that probe the flexible relationships between people and environments and explore the potential of form, materials, and texture to bring comfort or joy.

This exhibition features projects mostly from the past decade—furniture, lighting, textiles, glass, ceramics, architecture, room division systems—presented within a gallery environment designed by the brothers and their studio. Original models connected to these projects are also on view. The Bouroullecs’ creative spirit and lively design sense inspired the title of the exhibition—a metaphor for the fantastical experience of the circus, and the roles of their works as performers within.

Inspiration & Innovation

Notable aspects of the brothers’ approach to design are their regard for the natural world as a source of inspiration and their deep engagement with manufacturing processes and materials to produce visual and physical effects. Many objects in this exhibition reflect an intertwining of traditional craft techniques with contemporary style. They celebrate the handmade qualities of these designs and the imperfections inherent in production processes as a source of variety, visual interest, and means of softening the sometimes mechanical characteristics of mass manufacture.

Main Building

About the Artist

Born in Quimper, Brittany, in northwest France, brothers Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec completed their studies at the École supérieure des Arts décoratifs in Paris and École nationale supérieure des Arts in Cergy. Based in Paris, their joint practice (started in the late 1990s) encompasses furniture, lighting, textiles, jewelry, ceramics and glass, drawings and photography, and spatial arrangement systems and architecture. Their works have been widely disseminated in production with manufacturers including Alessi, Artek, Cassina, Established & Sons, FLOS, Glas Italia, HAY, Iitalla, Kvadrat, Magis, Mattiazzi, Mutina, Samsung, WonderGlass, and Vitra.

A significant aspect of the Bouroullec studio’s practice explores interconnections between design, architecture, and environment. Recent projects include a balletic set of fountains at the Rond-Point des Champs-Élysées in Paris, dramatic interventions around the exteriors and interiors of the new Bourse de Commerce home of the Pinault Collection in Paris, and Le Belvédère,a pavilion placed on the River Vilaine in the heart of Rennes in Brittany, France.

Designers Ronan and Erwin Bouroullec

Right to left: Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec in their Paris studio, 2017. Photo © Alexandre Tabaste


This exhibition is made possible by The Lisa S. Roberts and David W. Seltzer Endowment Fund in Support of the Collab Design Excellence Award Exhibition. Additional support provided by Collab. In-kind support provided by Mutina and Vitra, Inc.


Jack Hinton, Henry P. McIlhenny Curator of European Decorative Arts and Sculpture

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