The Textile Field installation covers 240 square metres of the gallery floor and encourages gallery visitors to lie down when looking at the renaissance artworks.
The colourful stripes of fabric by textile brand Kvadrat are wrapped over lengths of foam to create the cushioned surface.
Here's some more details from the Bouroullec brothers:
‘The Raphael Cartoons are really important pieces, but in a way they are kind of difficult to look at because they’re from such a different time,’ says Erwan Bouroullec, of France’s most accomplished design team, Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec.
Offered the chance to create a design intervention almost anywhere in the V&A, Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec chose the Raphael Court, built specifically to house seven enormous works by Italian painter Raphael. Typically, the Bouroullecs have picked a space that is both an extraordinary opportunity and a substantial challenge. This remarkable gallery was built in 1865, when Raphael’s reputation as the greatest painter of all time was at its peak. As such, the space reflects the Victorian reverence for the Renaissance painter.
‘It has this quality of a church,’ says Erwan Bouroullec, ‘a really wonderful volume, but then in a way it makes you feel too small – a sense of sacré – holiness.’
Creating an installation capable of transforming such an august space without destroying that sense of reverence was not going to be an easy task, but the Breton-born brothers have a reputation for work that is, as designer Jasper Morrison has said, ‘thoughtful and disciplined, with a real spirit and poetry’.
Since being spotted by Giulio Cappellini at the 1997 Salon du Meuble, Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec have created designs for Issey Miyake, Vitra, Magis, Kartell, Established & Sons, Ligne Roset, Axor, Alessi and, more recently, Flos and Mattiazzi. But one of their most creative partnerships has been with the innovative Danish textile manufacturer Kvadrat. Their special role with Kvadrat has been about designing textile systems that can be deployed quickly to radically transform spaces, subtly altering the visitor’s experiences of them. As Anders Byriel, Kvadrat’s CEO says: ‘We like to be involved in projects wherever people interpret space in new ways and the Raphael Court is just an amazing space.’
Textile Field is their most ambitious collaboration yet, taking over 240 square metres of the gallery floor, with gentle undulations of soft fabric, creating an expansive coloured foam and textile lounge that invites visitors to spend time relaxing in front of the artworks in a much less formal way than usual.
Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec have created a space that closes the formal distance between the viewer and the artwork. ‘We have decided to provide a kind of furniture element that helps people to relax their bodies and so relax their minds,’ says Erwan Bouroullec. ‘And then, maybe, the meaning will come.’
Sign up for a daily roundup
of all our stories