Belleville is the name of the vibrant Paris neighbourhood where the designers Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec have their studio.
Visual references for the Belleville Chair can be found in the classic French bistro furnishings and lively atmosphere of this Parisian quarter. The chairs familiar shape - even in a contemporary context - might at first be taken for granted, yet it also evokes a sense of mystery and bemusement, since the materiality, construction and fabrication of the chair only become apparent at second glance.
The Belleville Chair is a technically sophisticated plastic chair consisting of two components - a structural frame and a seat shell. Tracing the calligraphic lines of the legs and back, the slender black frame supports a thin shell that tapers from the wide seat surface into a narrow backrest. This type of construction opens up new perspectives for the materiality of the plastic chair, since the surface of the seat shell is the defining characteristic of the Belleville Chairs identity: available in coloured polypropylene, moulded plywood veneer or with a cover in leather or fabric, the perception of the Belleville Chair is transformed from a plastic chair to a wooden chair to an upholstered chair - and even to an armchair with forward slanting armrests.
Paired with the Belleville Tables, the Belleville Chair and Armchair form a unified yet diverse group - a hybrid family of furnishings whose forms and materials are harmoniously coordinated. Thus the chairs and tables - in small or large numbers - can be attractively combined in bustling bistro settings as well as sleekly modern galleries or diversely styled home environments.
The Belleville chairs and armchairs with a plastic shell are also suited for use in outdoor areas.
Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, born 1971 and 1976, respectively, in Quimper, France, studied at the École Nationale des Arts Décoratifs in Paris and at the École des Beaux-Arts in Cergy-Pontoise. Ronan began independent design work immediately after completing his studies, while his brother, who was still in school, assisted him.
Since 1999 both brothers have worked together as joint partners in their own Paris-based design studio. Their work ranges from small utilitarian objects to architectural projects. In addition to the design of domestic and office furniture, vases, porcelain dishware, jewellery and diverse home accessories, a primary focus of their work is the design and organisation of interior space.
One of their most unconventional designs, Algue (2004), was created in this context. The collaboration between the Bouroullec brothers and Vitra began with the office furniture system Joyn, which was developed between 2000 and 2002 and continues to be expanded and refined. Along with Jasper Morrison, Hella Jongerius and Antonio Citterio, Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec have made major contributions to the steadily growing Vitra Home Collection.