Product News: French brothers Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec have designed a collection of cutlery for Italian design brand Alessi.
"We had been trying to follow the logic of Ovale and decided at the beginning to apply the minimum shape that would be needed to make everything," Erwan Bouroullec told Dezeen. "We tried to find something which is not forced, not only for special dinners and not only for everyday. Just to find the refined language that makes it stand for itself, while not trying to bring any kind of luxury or pretentious shapes."
He compared the process to devising a new typeface: "On the one hand you've got certain geometries based on ergonomics and you have to respect them in order to make well-balanced cutlery that's comfortable in your hand. On the other hand, like a typeface, we've been defining some rules about what happens between a line and a curve - where is the radius? Is it a straight join or is it slightly curved? And then you kind of apply these rules to every shape."
Bouroullec also stressed the importance of creating rules that are appropriate to every piece. "I think, sometimes, in contemporary cutlery there is a kind of will to apply some shape or some design language that doesn't fit every part of the cutlery. That really is a problem. You have to find a logic which is worth applying to many objects."
"When you treat it seriously, exactly like a typeface, you need to do every piece: the very small spoon, the half spoon, the middle spoon, the big spoon, the big big spoon and so on. So you have to go through the full exercise," he added.
The designs were evolved through many prototypes, first in the brothers' Paris studio and then using stainless steel at the Alessi factory. "One really big issue is the weight: not to make it heavier or lighter overall but you must balance the weight of the handle and the front part of the cutlery really well to get a good movement in your hand," said Bouroullec.
The original Ovale range of plates, dishes and tumblers was launched by Alessi in 2010 and features rounded corners with sides that aren't parallel. Read more in our earlier story.
The Bouroullecs also recently designed all the furniture for the remodelled Faculty of Humanities at Københavns Universitet in Copenhagen and Dezeen interviewed Erwan at Clerkenwell Design Week this summer about their Pico tiles (shown in the background of these images) and their new monograph. See all our stories about design by the Bouroullec brothers.
Alessi was founded outside Milan as a metal tableware producer the 1920s, became synonymous with designer kettles in the 1980s and now works with a host of international designers including the Campana Brothers, Karim Rashid and David Chipperfield. A selection of Alessi watches is available from Dezeen Watch Store.