Could the Bouroullecs help us create dreamier cities?

The French furniture designers turn their attention to urban reverie in a thought-provoking exhibition at Vitra
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An installation view of Rêveries Urbaines by the Bouroullecs. Image courtesy of Vitra
An installation view of Rêveries Urbaines by the Bouroullecs. Image courtesy of Vitra

French creative duo Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec make exquisite interior furniture and furnishings, yet would you want them to plan your city? Well you may well do following a visit to the Vitra campus next month. A new show, opening at the furniture manufacturer’s Weil am Rhein grounds in Germany demonstrates just how well the these French designers have adapted their design sensibilities to the urban environment.

 

An installation view of Rêveries Urbaines by the Bouroullec brothers. Image courtesy of Vitra
An installation view of Rêveries Urbaines by the Bouroullec brothers. Image courtesy of Vitra

The Bouroullec brothers make no attempt to pass themselves off as civil engineers. There are no civic transport systems, waterworks or power grids on display at Rêveries Urbaines, which will be on display at Vitra’s Zaha Hadid Fire Station 8 October 2106 – 22 January 2017.

Instead, the Bouroullecs dream up places fit for urban reverie, replete with pergolas, marquees and streams. They hope these places, rather than solve some explicit city-centric problem, could instead give a new sense of magic to the places where we walk, meet, and talk.

 

An installation view of Rêveries Urbaines by the Bouroullec brothers. Image courtesy of Vitra
An installation view of Rêveries Urbaines by the Bouroullec brothers. Image courtesy of Vitra

The brothers readily admit that this sort of city planning is well outside their usual brief of furniture design, yet by introducing their more artistic, poetic sensibility into an field commonly overseen by town planners, Ronan and Erwan hope they can offer new insights.

“Some people may find the exhibition perturbing or surprising because, up until now, urban development has never been our subject,” explains Ronan. “I like being in that position. Over the past 20 years, I think our best propositions were linked to subjects for which we were not particularly prepared.”

 

An installation view of Rêveries Urbaines by the Bouroullec brothers. Image courtesy of Vitra
An installation view of Rêveries Urbaines by the Bouroullec brothers. Image courtesy of Vitra

It remains to be seen whether any of these treatments will ever find their way into our urban environment, yet it’s encouraging to see designers such as the Bouroullecs willing to add a little dreamy reverie to our urban landscape. For more on the Bouroullecs buy this monograph; for more on our cities get Living in the Endless City; and for one city dream made real get The High Line, authored by the two practices that oversaw its creation, James Corner Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro


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