Born in 1851 in Tel Aviv, Isreal, Ron Arad is both an architect and industrial designer. After completing study in Jerusalem at the Bezalel Academy of Art in 1973, he moved to London to pursue a degree in architecture at the Architectural Association for 5 years. Just two years after completing his studies at the Architectural Association, Arad established a design studio, workshop, and showroom called ‘One Off Ltd’ located in Covent Garden London with Caroline Thorman. Here, Arad produced mostly furniture with cast iron structures, but also some other interior pieces. For many of the pieces Arad experiemented with borrowing as a design technique, as seen in his Rover Chair, which was made from a salvaged Land Rover seat and use of the Kee-Klamp system. Arad’s Rover Chair (1981) got the attention of Vitra (Swiss furniture manufacturer and John Paul Gautier, making it the piece that essentially launched his career. Another piece from One Off Ltd by Arad was the Concrete Stereo. As in his Rover Chair, we see Arad’s early on use of borrowed materials evident here through his use of borrowed concrete blocks. Additionally, Arad played around in concrete stereo with the idea of
destruction aesthetics. Arad made many similar pieces at the time but because of his use tasteful use of purposeful defect, they’re all differentiable, enjoyable, and unique individually.
For much of the 1980’s and early 90’s, Arad continued making ‘volume chairs’ such as the Well Tempered Chair (1986), for Vitra and the Big Easy (1991). In these structural chairs, both made of steel, Arad played around with the balance of hard and soft. His use of flowing, curving lines was contrasted by hard, definite materials (steel) and large bold shapes. Nicknamed ‘Ron-the-Strong’ in the 1980’s, his name would prevail until the 1990’s as Arad had a fascination with steel, welding techniques and continued to develop new polishing and welding techniques for metal.
In 1989, Arad and business partner Thorman founded Ron Arad Associates in London, an architecture and design practice. Throughout the 1990’s, Arad continued to experiment with new materials and technology, creating a mix of innovation and technical expertise that set him apart from the rest. Now collaborating with many companies such as Driade, Kartell, and Cassina, one of Arad’s most well know pieces of the 90’s was the Tom Vac Chair for Vitra. In this piece Arad used a steel tube base and a polypropylene top shell to create a chair that could stack easily and was durable. Unique and innovative, Arad’s mix of materials and functionality brought about a chair that is still available today.
Although initially known more as a designer than architect, Arad constantly was working in the architecture field since his graduation from the Architectural Association. He designed many interior spaces such as the Belgo restaurants in London in 1994, the Tel Aviv Opera House (1994), and Japanese fashion design Yohji Yamamoto’s store (2003). Similar to his previous designs, these interiors such as the Tel Aviv Opera house all incorporated curvilinear lines, technology and metal work.
In recent years, Ron Arad Associates have focused the majority of their efforts towards solely architectural endeavors. Started in 2004 and completed in 2009, The Design Museum in Holon, Isreal is complimentary of Arad’s other work, exhibiting both his love for metal work and curvilinear lines. His material of choice, a withering steel allows rusty reds to be the predominant color of the building, which is composed of large steel and concrete bands that spiral gracefully around the structure. Atop, their lies a retractible roof for sunlight exposure in the day hours.
Similarly in Arad’s Mediacite, light is a major element in the design of the building, which is sustainable. Started in 2007 and finished in 2009, Mediacite is a shopping center in Liege, Belgium. By the integration of new technologies and materials, Arad designed a sustainable space on what was formerly a wasteland to design a building that has earned national environmental accreditation, the first of its kind in Belgium. More futuristic in design than the Holon museum, the Mediacite encompasses Arads love while also incorporating color, light, and technology.
More recent architectural work of Ron Arad includes the interior of a floor at the Hotel Puerta America in Madrid, Spain (2005), and the Duomo Hotel in Rimini, Italy (2007). In both, as in majority of Ron Arad’s work, smooth, curvilinear, and twisting lines are evident, gracefully connecting Arad’s work. From interior pieces to structures, Arad’s love for metal work, specifically steel, is always evident and incorporated into his work in new and innovative ways. His in both his small work and large, a graceful fluidity is evident which combines technology, innovation, and technique that make Ron Arad’s work so successful.
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