Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec have filled with light the entrance, the monumental stairs and the restaurant of the Bourse de Commerce, the new contemporary museum of the Pinault Collection in Paris. The project commissioned by François Pinault, conceived together with Jean-Jacques Aillagon and Martin Bethenod and manufactured by Flos Bespoke, expresses the power of a close dialogue between architecture and design, history and contemporary times, developed with care and respect thanks to a unique technical know-how. The building of the Bourse de Commerce embodies four centuries of architectural innovation and technical skill. After renovation works led by Tadao Ando Architect & Associates together with the agency NeM / Niney & Marca Architectes, and the agency Pierre-Antoine Gatier, chief architect for French National Heritage, the museum opened on May 22, 2021.
A DOUBLE CHALLENGE
Contemporary interventions on historic venues are always challenging for designers. The lighting project that Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec developed for the Bourse de Commerce - Pinault Collection in Paris with Flos Bespoke was a double challenge. On the one hand, for the exceptional nature of the space, originally conceived in the eighteenth century. With its huge glass dome, the Bourse is an absolute landmark of Paris and an imposing building full of history. On the other hand, for the system with which Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec lighting project was supposed to interact: The reinterpretation by Tadao Ando, the architect who, on other occasions and often for François Pinault, can transform palaces into cultural temples, with great sobriety mixed with poetry while providing contemporary art pieces with a powerful voice. Central issues on which Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec lighting project was developed after François Pinault entrusted them with the design of the complete interior and exterior fitting of the Bourse were: A constant dialogue with both ancient and modern architecture and the creation of an atmosphere suitable to take visitors on their journey of discovery of the building, its history and its contents. "We didn't have to illuminate the exhibition spaces but passage areas", explain the designers. "The stairs and the entrance hall (period architecture), and the restaurant (totally new). Therefore, we focused on the design of light in its relationship with what it illuminates but also on the scenic presence of the sources when there is no artificial light: during the day, when visitors flood the space. What sets up stairs and entrance hall today has been worked, designed, and imagined to be switched on but above all switched off". Which shape, what power, personality and character were envisaged to create an impressive and at the same time delicate and atmospheric presence in all situations?
THE STAIRCASE: A MONUMENTAL AND STILL DELICATE ATMOSPHERE
For an attentive observer, the situation changes in the two stairways on the sides of the entrance, lit by five suspended Vertical Lights connected to each other in a pentagon, and for the spectacular staircase C, formed by two spiral staircases that intersect, where Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec positioned three Vertical Lights arranged in a triangle. The monumentality is enhanced by the light that marks the huge space between the ceiling and the ground floor, covering it all with its 17 meters in length. "For these enormous chandeliers", Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec point out, "we have chosen a more precise processing for the glass than that of the Horizontal Light. The aluminium we used is also more delicate and finer: the glass has been blown with great care in the moulds and it is protected by the metal grid for a shell effect". The ability to move around the chandeliers allows the visitor to enjoy their qualities from multiple points of view. "Observed from below, the installation is delicate, almost transparent and ethereal. As you go up, its decisive physical presence is progressively affirmed", they explain.
THE RESTAURANT: THE PRECISION OF CONTEMPORARY TIMES
Even in the restaurant, an area of contemporary design that lacks the challenge of confrontation with period architecture, Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec kept the dialogue between opposites alive. "In the restaurant we partly used the invention of vertical light but also set up the individual tables with simple, nice lamps, which rest on a wrought iron base, and work with a small, very soft, rechargeable light source".
FLOS AND RONAN AND ERWAN BOUROULLEC
Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec have been carrying out research on suspended lighting structures with Flos for years. For the manufacturing of the impressive luminaires that set up the Bourse de Commerce, the designers entrusted Flos Bespoke, the division of Group Flos specialized in the development and production of customized lighting and tailor-made unique solutions for large projects, where each device is designed and developed according to the most challenging architectural requirements. "Flos Bespoke was our partner in the development of these large luminaires. And, as in any project we develop together, thanks to their extraordinary technical skills, we were gradually able to solve the problems that this complex project presented us with and to put mutual inventiveness to good use", say the designers.