Israeli-born Arad studied at the Jerusalem Academy of Art in 1971 before moving to London in 1973 to study at the Architectural Association’s School of Architecture. From 1974 to 1979, he was one of Britain’s most globally known and individual designers.
“As a sculptor and craftsman he produces furniture that is emotional and sensual as well as aggressively light and pratical”
In 1981, he formed One Off Ltd. with Denis Groves and Caroline Thorman in London’s trendy Covent Garden, which included a design studio, workshop, and showcase for his designs.
His early work was described by his use of ‘found’ materials, as shown by his Rover chair (1981), made from tubular steel and seats from old Rover vehicles. Aerial light (1981) was made from a car antenna. In his Concrete Stereo from 1983, the turntable is set in a ‘distressed’ rough concrete block, providing a similar contrast to the slick Modernist style of many contemporary audio items. During this period of his career, Arad also worked in steel, as evidenced by his WellTempered Chair for Vitra (1986) and Bookworm shelf for Kartell (1993).
Arad formed Ron Arad Associates (from 1993 integrating One-Off), an architecture and design firm in Chalk Farm, London, in 1989 with Caroline Thurman, representing his expansion into interior design. Bazaar, a Gaultier for Women boutique in London (1986), the Michelle Ma Belle fashion store in Milan (1993), the Belgo Central restaurant in Covent Garden (1995), the foyer for the new Tel Aviv Opera House (1989–94), and a collection of Adidas/Kronenberg Sports Cafés in France were among the commissions (1996).
During this period, he also transitioned away from the concept of “one-off” designs and the development of designs that could be mass-produced, forging fruitful relationships with several leading European manufacturers. Driade’s Zigo and Zago chairs (1993) and the Empty Chair and Fly Ply table were among them (1994). He designed the Misfits (1993) and SofSof (1995) seating systems for Moroso, the Tom Vac chair (1997) for Vitra, and the Fantastic Plastic Elastic chair (1998) and the Infinity Winerack (1998) for Kartell (1998). The Sound Track CD storage system (1998) and snack bowls were among his Alessi designs (1999).
Arad’s international stature is reflected in the fact that his designs have been acquired by many of the world’s major design museums and the vast number of globally mounted exhibits that have prominently featured his work. 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, Ron Arad’s Work at the Museum of Applied Arts, Helsinki, in 1995, and Ron Arad and Ingo Maurer at the Milan Triennale of 1995 (folklore).
Several prestigious design awards have also honoured his work. Designer of the Year at the Salon du Meuble in Paris (1994), the Internationaler Designpreis Baden-Württemberg at the Design Centre Stuttgart (1999), the Barcelona Primavera International Award for Design (2001), the Gio Ponti International Design Award in Denver (2001), and the Oribe Art & Design Award in Japan are among them (2001). He has also held several academic positions in Furniture and Product Design at the Royal College of Art since 1997, including Professor of Product Design at the Hochschule in Vienna (1994–7) and Professor of Product Design at the Hochschule in Vienna (1994–7).
Woodham, J. M. (2006). A dictionary of modern design. Oxford University Press.
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