The Bouroullec Brothers’ Drawings Fill A Tome

This new book of abstract shapes reveals the brothers’ free-form thinking but also their strict discipline.

Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, the French brothers and design duo, produce a colossal amount of work. In the past year alone, they produced a mid-career exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, they released a beautiful iPad app to tour fans through their solo show at the Centre Pompidou-Metz, in Paris, and they created a dynamic and simple curtain rod.


One secret to having such a prolific portfolio could be the way the brothers literally (and perhaps maniacally) organize their creative compulsions. They’ve carefully archived tons of casually scrawled drawings throughout their shared career, and now have compiled those in a book, Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec: Drawing. Sourced from sketchbooks, the collected 850 works date from between 2004 and 2012. The curator behind the tome is the graphic designer Cornel Windlin, who first met the duo over, of course, a doodle:

“The first time I met Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, they were drawing. Well, one of them was drawing–and politely engaged in conversation–while the other one sat there in complete silence. When they left, they absentmindedly left the drawing behind. It was just a random doodle on the back of some brochure, but it caught my eye.”

Windlin caught a unique glimpse into the working lives of Ronan and Erwan while compiling the book. In their design studio are fastidiously organized and labeled binders and acid-free archival boxes full of their drawings. “I wasn’t facing the collected outpourings of one compulsively creative mind, but of two, and the work of compiling and editing could have been a daunting task,” Windlin says. “It turned out it wasn’t, because they were meticulously prepared. This may reveal an entirely different characteristic: they allow themselves room to play and explore, but they’re also disciplined.”

Some of the images look like dreamy abstract spaces; others are instantly recognizable as the first renderings of iconic Bouroullec products. Some, remarkably, do both, and are all the more intriguing for it. Next up: The Bouroullec brothers museum?

You can buy a copy of Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec: Drawing on Amazon for $25.


About the author

Margaret Rhodes is a former associate editor for Fast Company magazine.