Ronan Bouroullec on Why a Good Design Feels Like Being in Love

Prolific design duo Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec are launching a slew of products at this year's Salone del Mobile fair. We sat down with Ronan in Milan to discuss the studio's new Lattice rug for Nanimarquina, what materials are on his radar, and more.
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How do you approach textile work?

The Lattice collection is handmade in Pakistan using the centuries-old kilim technique.

If you consider our work in general, the object is very often linked to the way it’s made. When we speak about textile, to me it is something that is very magical. I do not understand it so much. I have a feeling about it; I know what I want, but I have no clue how it’s made in a certain way. It’s quite interesting to work around a material or techniques you don’t know much about—to be like a child in front of machines that you don’t understand.

The rugs are made of hand-spun Afghan wool.

Kilim has been around for centuries and centuries. I’m very interested in using techniques that always existed. To try to create something new using something that exists in history. The challenge is really more complex to do a new thing with something that has been so used. 

"The idea was to try to find a motif that is in relation to the perimeter," Ronan says of the Lattice collection.

What materials interest you most?

For me, material is like a painter's palette—there is no color that I hate, it’s more about the way it’s used. It’s always a question of how you use it. I’m fascinated with natural fiber, but at the same time, I consider plastic to be a good solution in a certain type of problem—something that is produced quickly at a very low price. I’m fascinated to work with Japanese lacquers that are 90 years old.

Being a designer is like being an actor in a certain sense—you play in a different movie or a different piece, and you need every time to do something good in a specific context that won’t be good in another context. To me, a good actor is somebody who has an ability to change a character—a good designer is able to work in different fields. Just to work in Pakistan—this is a very [craft-oriented], almost primitive method, but at the same time we have designed a television [the SERIF TV for Samsung].

Producing so many designs a year, what inspires you to create something new?

I feel that I’m running after something that I never touch. A good project is something magical. It’s like being with a person that you love. You feel that the entire thing is there. A good project is something that’s a very complex, chemical thing between the price, the delivery, sustainability; there are so many [factors]. Sometimes you succeed. It’s like a song—it’s a real vibration. I feel that I’m running after that.


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