The Bouroullecs for Vitra

#84 A hybrid series for being a mix of polyamide, plywood and upholstery, Belleville required lengthy engineering of thicknesses and proportions. #salone215

Named after the lively Parisian neighbourhood animated by bistros and cafés where Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec have their atelier, the new Belleville line designed for the Swiss furniture company Vitra by the French designers is made up of two chairs and two tables.
The appearance is familiar and plain, but the construction details are very interesting, closer inspection reveals. The facade of normal-looking shapes and materials conceals a long, laborious process of engineering and fine-tuning, Erwan Bouroullec told us. “Our starting point for the chair was the Danish chair Model 84 by Niels Otto Møller, but we wanted it to be more pop, more joyful. I was thinking of Andy Warhol's art and how it embraced the phenomenon of the mass market. The difficulties came with the engineering process.
Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec, Belleville chair and table, Vitra
We continued to have greater thicknesses than we wanted for our vision of the chair. We got frustrated, but kept on working on the drawings. We redid them countless times, redesigning the proportions and joints, thinning the shell as much as possible. This type of structure offers new perspectives for the materiality of the classic plastic chair. I ended up calling the series Serif, like when a typeface has a cross stroke at the end of a letter, because we continued working on the chair like type designers, adjusting every tiny detail a million times. When it was finally done, we changed the name as Rolf Fehlbaum suggested, who saw something old in the chair's end result. I think he was right, because from a distance it might look like a Thonet, although no one has actually said that to me yet.
Belleville contains references to the romanticism of the past; it aims to be pleasant and familiar. We worked much on functionality and real ergonomics – the kind you get only from following the body's movements in all directions.”
The Bouroullecs for Vitra
Ronan Bouroullec

Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec

14–19 April 2015

Salone del Mobile

Fiera di Rho
Hall 20 – C05 D10

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