Monthly Archives: August 2015

Designer Erwan Bouroullec on the Magic of Wrought Iron

AUGUST 15, 2015
The French designer provides food for thought on the new wrought-iron collection he and his brother, Ronan, designed for Magis.



Erwan and Ronan Bouroullec’s new Officina collection for Magis includes chairs, stools, and tables made with wrought-iron frames, marking the brothers’ first experimentation with the material. In this age-old technique, iron is hammered into shape by hand. Courtesy of Magis

Since 1999, brothers Erwan and Rowan Bouroullec have run an independent practice from their Paris-based studio, working with furniture brands such as VitraKvadrat, and Cappellini. This year, they launched the Officina collection with Magis, using wrought iron to achieve the modern, elegantly functional pieces for which they are known. We caught up with Erwan at the Milan Furniture Fair to get his thoughts on the use of an ancient technique for a contemporary collection, and how production choices hold the power  to shape the industry.

How did you first approach the idea of using a traditional method for a contemporary line?

If you compare it to cooking, to play with wrought iron is just like having an incredible fish—a beautiful one, like whole tuna. You shouldn’t do anything. You should just slice it perfectly and maybe bring just a little something. Because in the end, design techniques are like a flavor or seasoning. In the case of wrought iron, you’ve got a really, really rare flavor.

How do you feel it contrasts with more common methods or materials, like aluminum or powder-coated metals?

It’s so strong because it’s filled with history, first. Then also, it’s filled with some incredibly primal steps: You see it, hammer it, heat it—fire, melt, poof! Hammer it into shape, and that’s it. As soon as we were confronted with it, it posed a big dilemma. It really took us a while to achieve such simplicity.

How do you feel this fits into your trajectory of work as a designer?

One responsibility that I understand, more and more, is that in the end, we work with companies, and those companies are partially in danger. Most of them are European, producing locally in Europe, so we have to think carefully when we do things. Now, with globalization and the movement of everything, design has to be much better every time. You need to find some clue— a reason—to resist local production.

Have you found there are others that share your desire for a more organic way of producing things?

I’m happy I’m working with some producers that all have high expectations for good design. So, they’ve got different production techniques. Some of them are more industrial, some of them are less, but at least something that they all share is that if you do something, it has to be worth doing it.


The Officina collection offers a range of material options, including steel, tempered glass, American walnut, Carrara marble, Ardesia slate, and leather. Shown here are the chair and table with galvanized, gray metallized frames. Courtesy of Magis


To you, what makes it worth it?

One of the biggest considerations behind furniture is to make pieces that are able to travel time. If you look at all the production of the ’90s and the design, a lot of things were not able to do that. They were getting old instantly, and they were getting old by their visual language, and also by their function. They were just not necessary. This is one of the worst things you can do for furniture. They have to be able to be kind of non-temporal. In this regard, I think we work with the right partners.

Your Interior Design Bio: Does it Boost or Block You?

Our design friend, Fred Berns asks this great questions in his guest post:

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Chances are, the people who need to know you, don’t.

Your prospects don’t. Your website and Houzz visitors, and social media contacts don’t. Even your clients don’t.

That’s because, if you’re like most interior design professionals, your promotional bio is a bust.

It may well be that your online promotional profiles and your website “About Us” section undersell you. As a result, those you seek to influence don’t know all that you do, have done, and can do.

This is not to say you’re unqualified, or lacking in interior design talent and skill.

It is to say that you don’t adequately share that information on your website, in social media and in your marketing materials.

Your personal bio is your most versatile, valuable and vital personal marketing tool. A good bio validates your value and spells out your special-ness. It takes care of the “heaving lifting,” bragging about you in print so you don’t have to do so in person.

Is your bio a help or a hindrance?

The beginning tells a bundle. A sure sign your bio doesn’t work is if it starts by saying that you “launched your design firm 17 years ago.”

Or that you’re a New York native. Or that you received your design degree in 1999. Or that you’re “passionate” about design.

Nor am I impressed when you tell me that you “search beyond typical design solutions.”

Or that you “believe that your home interior reflects your lifestyle.” Or that you feel that “good design enhances the quality of life.”

Oh, pul – eease!

Skip the baloney, and give me benefits.

Tell me how you can enhance my home value or increase my workplace productivity, and how you can save me time, money and headaches.

And tell me how you differ from your competitors.

Bio Boosters

What goes into a good bio?

The Superstar Selling System for Design Professionals recommends that you include your:

+ “Only” phrase (” ____ is the area’s only designer who…)
+ Awards and other honors
+ Design specialties
+ Experience
+ Accomplishments
+ Skills and capabilities
+ Other qualifications
+ Unique services and products
+ Publication history (where/how you’ve been published)
+ Client profile (who you serve and how)
+ Resources (vendors, contractors, etc.)
+ Affiliations
+ Educational background

You can’t get the best projects from the best clients with a bad bio. And it doesn’t matter how good you are if the right people don’t know.

Make it a priority to write or rewrite your bio – or get it rewritten— immediately. Not next week or next quarter. Now!

Treat your bio as if your business, career and future depend on it.

Because you know what?

They do.


Fred Berns, a design industry business coach, copy writer and speaker, creates bios and other marketing materials for interior design professionals worldwide.  Fred is your man if you’re looking for help with your design business. Contact him at or 303-589-3013, and check out his website at