New to the neighbourhood: the Belleville family – chairs and tables – by Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec for Vitra

The Belleville family – the Belleville side chair, the Belleville armchair and Belleville tables – is a new collection developed by Vitra in collaboration with the designers Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec. Varied materials and muted colours characterize the remarkable hybrid chair and versatile tables. Through the harmonious coordination of their forms and materials, the chairs and tables can be attractively combined in a broad range of home interiors and establishments.

Look for them in Milan at il Salone (Apr. 14-19).

Belleville’s timeless design appeals to a variety styles and is equally at home in many different contexts from classical to contemporary.

At the same time, the pieces evoke a sense of mystery and curiosity, since their materiality, construction and fabrication only become apparent at second glance.

Belleville is the name of a Parisian neighborhood known for its vibrant and creative ambience and its bistros, bars and cafés. Here is also where the design studio of Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec is found.

Say the Bouroullec brothers, “Belleville needs high engineering – visually and physically the chair follows a strictly defined purpose and precise design.”

The Belleville chair is a technically sophisticated hybrid chair of two components – a structural frame in polyamide and a seat shell available in different materials. A slender black frame traces the calligraphic lines of the legs and back of the chair. The contour of the back of the Belleville side chair follows a continuous rounded trajectory. The curve of the Belleville armchair, which has forward slanting armrests, changes directions twice and then resumes its momentum. In both versions of the chair, the slender black frame supports an extremely 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 classic monobloc plastic chair. The surface of the seat shell is the defining characteristic of the Belleville chair’s identity – available in coloured polypropylene, molded plywood veneer or with a leather or fabric cover. Depending on the seat shell, the perception of the Belleville chair changes from a polypropylene chair to a wooden one to an upholstered seat.

Belleville tables reveal a similar capacity for transformation, featuring table tops in laminate, wood or stone, along with elegantly arched legs of cast aluminum. Belleville tables are modeled on the typology of the classic bistro table. The slender legs flow in a continuous sweeping line from their splayed bottom along the central column to the table top. Forming star- or t-shaped bases, they can be arranged as graceful dining tables, single bistro tables or long cafeteria tables.

The coluor and surface texture of the cast-aluminum table legs, which have a black powder-coated finish, are nearly indistinguishable from the polyamide frame of the Belleville chair. And since the materials of the table tops and seat shells are either identical or harmoniously coordinated, the tables and chairs form a unified yet diverse group – a hybrid family of furnishings whose materiality resists classification. The various materials and subdued coloirs are defining characteristics of the designs, yet they remain subordinate to the implicit familiarity of their forms.

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