First and Foremost: Israeli Design Pioneer Ron Arad

Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start..

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To me, it all begins with Ron Arad. He is thee most successful and revered Israeli architect and designer to have broken out of Israel and, more importantly, one of the most influential designers of our time. After finishing his studies at the Bezalel Academy of Art in Jerusalem, he left Israel in the 70s to study architecture in London and opened a design studio in the early 80s. His playful and sculptural furniture designs quickly took off and additional studios were opened in Italy by the mid-90s.

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A self-taught furniture designer, Arad challenges conventional notions of sculpture, design and practicality. He also explores materials from both formal and functional perspectives. Or, in simpler terms, he plays with materials to great effects – twisting steel, etching plastic and bending wood. Arad’s works fetch big prices these days and can now be found in the collections of such leading museums as Metropolitan Museum in NY, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the V&A in London and the Vitra Design Museum in Germany.

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Arad’s addition of volume to sculpture has led to his collaboration for such well-known design companies as Alessi, andMorosso. He hasn’t abandoned his architectural interests however, and continues to contribute to large-scale international projects, including this hotel in Madrid which in which no less than 19 of the world’s leading designers and architects are involved.

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Arad’s most recent project Bodyguards Milan 2007 combines the ethereal with otherworldy as transparent wing-like shapes extend like curtains from metal chair frames, while bulbous polished chairs seem to have been dripped into a chair-like existence from vats of melted steel.

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Most recently and locally, Arad is designing Israel’s first design museum which is next to the Israeli design center in Holon. Still under construction, Arad’s voluminous shapes take on larger-than life presence as they guide the visitor’s experience both inside and out through a range of spirals, swirls and enveloping colored building materials (steel, concrete, stone, glass, etc). Obviously an amazing homage to Arad’s own legacy – since the works to be displayed inside the museum were undoubtedly influenced by this amazing artist.

Works by Ron Arad featured above: Ripple Chair for Moroso, Victoria and Albert Collection Sofa for Moroso, The Big Easy Armchair for Morosso, Bookworm Bookshelf for Kartell