The new museum of the Pinault Collection in Paris, the Bourse de Commerce embodies four centuries of architectural innovation and technical prowess. Recent renovation works were led by Tadao Ando Architect & Associates together with agency NeM / Niney & Marca Architects, and the agency Pierre-Antoine Gatier, chief architect for French National Heritage. In a collaboration with bespoke manufacturer Flos Bespoke, Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec were entrusted by Pinault to develop the project’s unique lighting scheme.
Creating a dialogue with architecture, both ancient and modern, and an atmosphere that accompanies the visitor on a journey of discovery through the building, the lighting designers together with Flos strove to create a feeling of sensuality, focusing on the colour of light and the way it relates to the details of the period architecture that Tadao Ando has restored to its former glory.
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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 in dialogue with Jean-Jacques Aillagon and Martin Bethenod, and manufactured by Flos Bespoke, expresses the power of a dialogue between architecture and design, between history and contemporary times, developed with delicacy and respect thanks to a unique technical know-how.
The Bourse de Commerce is the new museum of the Pinault Collection in Paris. The building embodies four centuries of architectural innovation and technical prowess. 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, it opened to the public on Saturday May 22.
Contemporary interventions on locations that are filled with history are always challenging for designers. But the lighting project that Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec developed for the Bourse de Commerce – Pinault Collection in Paris with Flos Bespoke was doubly so. 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 the French capital, 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, is able to transform palaces into cultural temples, with great sobriety mixed with poetry (all while providing contemporary art pieces with a powerful voice).
The design challenges: a dialogue with architecture and the creation of an atmosphere
The dialogue with architecture, both ancient and modern, and the creation of an atmosphere suitable to accompany the visitor on his journey of discovery of the building, its history and its contents: these were the central nodes on which Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec lighting project was developed after François Pinault entrusted them with design of the complete interior and exterior fitting of the Bourse.
“We didn't have to illuminate the exhibition spaces but passage areas”, explain the designers. “The stairs and the entrance hall (areas of period architecture), and the restaurant (which is completely new). This is why 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 therefore been worked, designed, and imagined to be switched on but above all switched off”.
What shape, then, what power, personality and character was envisaged to create an impressive but at the same time delicate and atmospheric presence in all situations?
The entrance hall: a floating and vibrant light
For the entrance hall, the special response was a Horizontal Light: an interlocking structure composed of five tubular elements of glass and aluminum measuring six meters each and parallelly positioned. The Horizontal Lights are installations suspended from the ceiling above the entrance, in a groupage of five. Each glass cylinder was made near Venice with cast glass technology and has a simple but also "organic" shape. “It is not a technical glass”, explain Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, “but a material that is never the same, almost alive, inserted in aluminum extrusions. The result we wanted to achieve was precise but at the same time fluctuating and vibrant, just like the space that welcomes it”.
The final effect is very delicate but with a high aesthetic impact. "Not having to deal with the technical areas, we worked on sensuality, on the color of light and on the way it related with the details of the period architecture that Tadao Ando has restored to its former glory".
The staircase: a monumental but delicate atmosphere
For the 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 guaranteed 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”, explain Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, “we have chosen a more precise processing for the glass than that of the Horizontal Light. The aluminum we used is also more delicate and finer: the glass has been blown with great care in the molds 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: innovation that is built over time
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".