Designer Spotlight: Ron Arad (1951-)
Continuing our look at influential designers is today’s choice, Ron Arad. Not only does he hold an unrivaled ability to wear a hat, he also inspires us to look at forms and materials in a new and innovative way.
Born in Tel Aviv in 1951, he is regarded as one of the most renowned designers of contemporary products and architecture, with his work being instantly recognisable. Despite a broad portfolio of work his most iconic pieces are arguably within the world of furniture, where his innovative use of materials and radical forms are brilliantly deployed.
Arad was educated at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem followed by the Architectural Association in London. Subsequently he co-founded the design and production studio One Off in 1981 with Caroline Thorman, followed in 1989 by the architecture and design firm Ron Arad Associates in London.
The Rover Chair and Aerial Light are synonymous with his early work, where his redeployment of existing products gave a unique twist to furniture. The Concrete Stereo of 1983 is a fantastically innovative look at electronic products and has a definitive industrial, almost apocalyptic feel, as Arad played with the fact that the size of electronic components no longer needed to dictate the form of the product. The recent popularity of up-cycled pieces perhaps owes a great deal to these early designs.
Originally designed in 1993, the Bookworm shelf allows users to manipulate the form of the final product by positioning the brackets to suit. The original was produced in sprung steel, but has since been reproduced in PVC at volume by Kartell. This is arguably the largest selling product from Arad’s career to date.
The Ron Arad Studio was established in Como, Italy in 1994 and gave rise to a great range of experimental works in the field of furniture.
Further examples of the variety of work can be seen at Ron Arad and also the fascinating exhibitions that have been put on. These help to really emphasize the sculptural qualities of his work.
In 2002 Arad was awarded the Royal Designer for Industry (RDI), with the apt justification of “sustained excellence in aesthetic and efficient design for industry”. The London Design Week Medal for “Design Excellence” was awarded in 2011 and became a Royal Academician of the Royal Academy of Arts in 2013.