Review: MCA Chicago Contemplates Power of Design with RONAN AND ERWAN BOUROULLEC: BIVOUAC
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by Raymond Hayen
As can be expected from one of the Midwest's leading cultural institutions, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago's new exhibition, RONAN AND ERWAN BOUROULLEC: BIVOUAC, pushes the boundaries of what can be accomplished through ground-breaking design concepts.
The mid-career exhibition from French designer brothers, Ronan Bouroullec and Erwan Bouroullec, features work from the past 15 years that is described by the designers as "microarchitecture." This concept of microarchitecture essentially combines ideas of industrial design, architecture, and interior design and includes pieces that are larger than furniture but smaller than architecture.
The pieces included in BIVOUAC range from large-scale decorative pieces, such as huge room-dividing screens and curtains, to smaller pieces such as lamps, desks, kitchenware, and even a mirror that will give you a reflection of razor-thin precision. Each work in the collection is quite striking and modern, with the pieces incorporating common visual motifs of pattern, modularity, and intense colors.
A high degree of interactivity is present in the exhibition; the viewer can test out many of the appliances as well as the furniture pieces. Furthermore, the collection exhibits physical sketches by the designers along with an installation of multiple iPads that allow viewers to sit and browse through ideas and concepts. This interactive element of the exhibition provides a high level of interest to the collection, as the viewer is able to view how design can influence the emotions and behaviors of others.
Yet, perhaps the most fascinating part of this exhibition is how the pieces beautifully define the gallery space, rather than just occupy or fill it. One of the goals that the brothers attempt to achieve through their designs is to create products that are more economic and sustainable in nature, and that more seamlessly exist in the world we live in.
In this regard, the collection does more than exhibit beautiful and modern pieces; it also pushes the boundaries of how we view design and objects. It shows the power of innovative design and how objects can do more than simply occupy space; they can shape our lives and our world.
RONAN AND ERWAN BOUROULLEC: BIVOUAC runs until January 20, 2013. The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago is located at 220 East Chicago Avenue. For more information on this exhibition, or other exhibitions at the MCA, visit www.mcachicago.org/exhibitions.
Images courtesy of the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.