French design duo Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec – aka the Bouroullec brothers – is best known for pared-down, cutting-edge furniture for brands including Artek, HAY, Iittala and Vitra. Their new I-shaped 'Serif' television for Samsung was a showstopper at this year’s London Design Festival and we predict this life-enhancing piece of tech is set to rock our world, recreating TVs as stylish furniture. Here, Erwan shares his ideas and interests.
BY CLAIRE BINGHAM
Tell us about your new 'Serif TV'. What inspired the design?
The motive was to make an object that sits properly in the world we live in today. We wanted to move away from a flat black screen, while designing something in which the case was as important as the screen inside. Unlike most TVs where the frame is meant to disappear, the serif-shaped surround frames the screen like a picture.
What are your favourite features?
The struggle was to make sure that the TV was good-looking from any angle and can be moved around like any other piece of furniture in the home. The television features a fabric panel on the back to hide all the ports and wires, so it can be moved away from the wall.
ABOVE: Erwan Bouroullec (left) with brother Ronan
BELOW: The duo's first foray into electronics has resulted in the 'Serif TV', the world's first typographic television; Looks like puss knows a good thing when she sees it...
Sum up your style in three words.
Accessible, poetic, elegant. There is a rational approach to the way that Ronan and I work, so I would say our style is more connected with method. The shape follows from the way in which the product is built.
What’s influencing your work right now?
More and more, we are striving for a radical approach, reworking things that affect everyday life. The 'Serif' is a good example of this. It is something that people are surprised by and want to discuss, yet they like it and want it too.
ABOVE: Sketches, fabric samples and maquettes for the 'Serif TV'; A spot of serenity amid the organised chaos of the Bouroullecs' studio
Describe your workspace.
Incredibly messy, which even to me is surprising. I imagined that as I got older I would become more organised but, in fact, I quite like the studio to keep a degree of unprofessionalism. It keeps us off a predetermined track and preserves our creativity.
Who are your design heroes?
I don’t have a passionate view on design heroes as such. Of course, in the Fifties, the Americans were fundamental and also the Nordic countries with Jacobsen, Aalto and Wegner. On the dark side, a little later, the Italians were like what Punk was to the music scene. Mario Bellini was a really important figure but most recently I really respect Jasper Morrison (right). His designs from the Eighties have shaped what is happening in design right now.
Where do you find inspiration?
In making things. I spend most of my time in the studio working on a project.
Are you always thinking about design?
Always, except when I read each night to reset my mind for a while. I have a couple of science fiction books on the go, Code Source by William Gibson and Grande Jonction by Maurice G. Dantec.
Your biggest must-have in a home is…
A kitchen. It is the most social place of the home. For me, cooking is a time when you connect with the elements – fire, water, flesh, earth and scent. It has the same kind of energy as sculpting, where things are happening and you can’t think twice.
ABOVE FROM LEFT: The 'Palissade' range of outdoor furniture for Danish brand HAY was a big hit at Maison & Objet in September; The 'Kaari' wall shelf from the Bouroullecs' first collection for Artek, which launched at the Stockholm Furniture Fair in February
Is there anything you wish you had designed?
Since we designed the TV, I feel our design philosophy is suited to a more technical subject. I would be very happy to design a car.
If you weren't a designer, what might you have been?
When I was a student I used to look after young kids at summer camp. We were always doing stuff like building kites. It was really amazing.
What’s your social media of choice?
I don’t post anything myself but I like to go on Instagram, as does Ronan. People often upload shots of our products and it is always pleasing to see their comments on how they are enjoying them at home. If the cat loves it, then so do we.
'Serif TV x Samsung' is available in 24", 32" and 40" sizes from 2 November 2015.