Indesign Magazine's managing editor Lorenzo Logi interviews Ronan Bouroullec about the French brothers' first collaboration with Spanish outdoor furniture brand Kettal.
Top Image: Erwan (left) and Ronan (right) Bouroullec
Lorenzo Logi [LL]: How did the collaboration with Kettal begin?
Ronan Bouroullec [RB]: Kettal wanted to work with us since years and years and years but we didn’t want to work with so many companies, for us it makes no sense to work with so many companies, it’s a waste of time.
At the same time when there are people that ask you and ask you and ask you, you feel that there is probably something interesting, and what is quite important with us is that we don’t work with companies that are doing the same thing, and Kettal is a very specific situation as they are an outdoor oriented company, so we said ‘why not try?’
One of our good friends is Jasper Morrison who had worked with them for some years and told me how good they are and how passionate they are and it’s true.
LL: What was the original concept for the chair?
RB: The idea was to do a chair, a durable chair. For me the idea was to find it in a flea market in 20 years and be happy – here it’s aluminium, but you know this old garden furniture done in iron that people repaint? – this was the goal, to do something that would be better in ten years than it is now, a bit in the inverse of the outdoor furniture, which gets dirty very quickly and is in plastic, the quality I think is extremely poor. And for me the landscape is a very important thing in my life, I grew up in the countryside and I’m amazed how ugly outdoor furniture is.
The idea was to make a comfortable chair, long-lasting, it has a lot of charm but at the same time it’s not just a wow effect, it’s just calm and refined, and extremely difficult to copy, as technologically it’s a vey high level ghost writing essays. It doesn’t seem to be, but it’s pressed, a punched piece of metal, flat metal and then punched in one cycle, so you need to invest a huge amount of money in the machine, there are two pressed pieces, then there is a line of welding so it creates a shell, then there is a dye-case piece, like a frame underneath, which stabilizes everything and is a point to fix the legs, and the legs are hydro-formed, with oil in a mould so that the metal expands. So from the legs top each detail it’s quite advanced in terms of technology, but by chance you don’t feel that it’s so heavy technologically – it seems simple.
LL: How did you collaborate with Kettal on the design?
RB: The design is collective intelligence, but we had a quite clear idea about the geometry of the chair and almost about the construction, and then step after step we discovered things, and then at the end the chair was finished just some days ago. For [Kettal] it is extremely new, for them it is quite advanced object in terms of technology, they are extremely good based on common techniques, but here it was really new for them, and I think they are extremely proud. And I was extremely pessimistic in general, I said to my assistant who was working with me on this that it would not succeed, that we did an error to try to do this with [Kettal] because it’s too complicated and it’s not the culture of the company, but I was totally wrong.
LL: How does the ‘Stampa’ chair fit with the other products you have designed this year?
RB: I think being a designer is like being an actor, like an actor plays in different movies and in each movie you have to play different roles, and if he’s a good actor he has to be different. This year by coincidence we did a lot of chairs, and I think all of them are extremely different, at the same time they are designed by us, so there is a characteristic of shape, but all of them have good reason to exist for me. Here we have a long-lasting chair that you will be happy to find in twenty years.
LL: Do you foresee working with Kettal again in the future?
RB: I consider working with a company like a love affair, so of course you can have a very quick love affair but I like to get to know the people, it’s really a question of feeling, to understand how to work with them. So I was extremely happy with tis first experience, there’s no reason to stop.
The chair comes in two versions and two finishes, perforated or plane and powder coated or anodized. An additional seat cushion is available. Dry assembly allows the chair to be stacked during transport or stocking. All versions are suitable for outdoor and indoor use.
Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec