Ron Arad

(b. 1951)

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(1951– )

One of Britain's most internationally renowned and individual designers in the early 21st century, Israeli‐born Arad studied at the Jerusalem Academy of Art in 1971 before moving to London in 1973, where he studied in the School of Architecture at the Architectural Association from 1974 to 1979. In 1981 he founded One Off Ltd. in 1981 with Denis Groves and Caroline Thorman, an enterprise featuring a design studio, workshop, and showcase for his designs in London's fashionable Covent Garden. Much of his early work was characterized by his use of ‘found’ materials, as exemplified by his Rover chair of 1981, fabricated from tubular steel and seats from old Rover cars, and Aerial light (1981) from a car antenna. A similar contrast to the slick Modernist aesthetic of many contemporary audio products could be seen in his Concrete Stereo of 1983, in which the turntable is set in a ‘distressed’ rough concrete block. In this first phase of his career Arad also worked in steel, as in his Well‐Tempered Chair for Vitra (1986) and Bookworm shelf for Kartell (1993). In 1989, again with Caroline Thurman, Arad founded Ron Arad Associates (from 1993 incorporating One Off), an architecture and design practice in Chalk Farm, London, reflecting the expansion of his work into interior design. Commissions included Bazaar, a Gaultier for Women boutique in London (1986), the Michelle Ma Belle fashion shop in Milan (1993), the Belgo Central restaurant in Covent Garden (1995), the foyer for the new Tel Aviv Opera House (1989–94), the Galerie Achenbach in Düsseldorf, and a series of Adidas/Kronenberg Sports Cafés in France (1996). During these years he had also moved away from the notion of ‘one‐off’ designs towards the production of designs that could be put into mass production, developing a productive relationship with many leading European manufacturers. Amongst these were Driade, including his Zigo and Zago chairs (1993), and the Empty Chair and Fly Ply table (1994). His work for Moroso included the Misfits (1993) and Sof‐Sof (1995) seating systems, for Vitra the Tom Vac chair (1997), and for Kartell the Fantastic Plastic Elastic chair (1998) and the Infinity Winerack (1998). His designs for Alessi included the Sound Track CD storage system (1998) and snack bowls (1999). Arad's international standing is reflected in the acquisition of his designs by all the major design museums throughout the world as well as in the large number of internationally mounted exhibitions that have significantly featured his work. Prominent amongst the latter have been Intellectual Interiors in Tokyo (with Philippe Starck, Rei Kawakubo, and Shiro Kuramata) in 1986, Nouvelles Tendances at the Pompidou Centre, Paris, 1987, One Off and Short Runs at the Centre for Contemporary Arts, Warsaw in 1993, The Work of Ron Arad at the Museum of Applied Arts, Helsinki, in 1995, Ron Arad and Ingo Maurer at the Milan Triennale of 1995 (followed by other shows with Maurer at Spazio Krizia, Milan, in 1996, 1997, and 1998), and the Not Made by Hand, Not Made in China exhibition in Milan in 1999. His work has also been recognized in a number of prestigious design awards. These have included Designer of the Year at the Salon du Meuble, Paris (1994), Internationaler Designpreis Baden‐Württemberg at the Design Centre Stuttgart (1999), the Barcelona Primavera International Award for Design (2001), the Gio Ponti International Design Award, Denver (2001), and the Oribe Art & Design Award, Japan (2001). He has also played a role in international design education as Professor of Product Design at the Hochschule in Vienna (1994–7) and several professorial roles in Furniture and Product Design at the Royal College of Art since 1997.


Subjects: Industrial and Commercial Art.

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