Archive for August 31st, 2009

31
Aug
09

Exhibition: ‘Ron Arad: No Discipline’ at The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), New York

Exhibition dates: 2nd August – 19th October 2009

 

One of my favourite designers!

Featuring all the works in the exhibition (under Works) and photographs and video of the installation for the works Cages sans Frontieres (2009) (under The Show), there is a really amazing interactive website for this exhibition. There is also an interesting video of Ron Arad talking about his work: Behind the Scenes: Ron Arad: No Discipline.

Marcus

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Many thankx to the Museum of Modern Art for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Ron Arad (British-Israeli, b. 1951) 'The Rover Chair' 1981

 

Ron Arad (British-Israeli, b. 1951)
The Rover Chair
1981
Tubular steel, leather, and cast-iron Kee Klamp joints
30 3/4 x 27 3/16 x 36 1/4″ (78 x 69 x 92 cm); weight 57.3 lbs (26 kg)
Edition by One Off, London
Private collection, London
Photo by Erik and Petra Hesmerg and courtesy of Private Collection, Maastricht, and the Museum of Modern Art

 

 

“I picked up this Rover seat and I made myself a frame and this piece sucked me into this world of design.” “If someone had told me a week before that I was going to be a furniture designer, I would think they were crazy.”  ~  Ron Arad

 

Ron Arad. 'Concrete Stereo' 1983

 

Ron Arad (British-Israeli, b. 1951)
Concrete Stereo
1983
Photo courtesy of Ron Arad Associates and the Museum of Modern Art

 

Ron Arad. 'Sketch for Well Tempered Chair' 1986

 

Ron Arad (British-Israeli, b. 1951)
Sketch for Well Tempered Chair
1986
Photo courtesy of Vitra Design Museum and the Museum of Modern Art

 

Ron Arad (British-Israeli, b. 1951) 'Well Tempered Chair Prototype' 1986

 

Ron Arad (British-Israeli, b. 1951)
Well Tempered Chair Prototype
1986
Photo courtesy of Vitra Design Museum and the Museum of Modern Art

 

Ron Arad. 'Big Easy' 1988

 

Ron Arad (British-Israeli, b. 1951)
Big Easy chair
1988

 

Ron Arad. 'Big Easy. Volume 2' 1988

 

Ron Arad (British-Israeli, b. 1951)
Big Easy. Volume 2
1988
Polished stainless steel
42 1/8 x 50 1/2 x 36 1/4″ (107 x 128.3 x 92.1 cm); weight 44 lbs (20 kg)
Edition by One Off, London
Collection of Michael G. Jesselson, New York
Image: Ron Arad Associates, London

 

 

The Museum of Modern Art presents Ron Arad: No Discipline, the first major U.S. retrospective of Arad’s work, from August 2 to October 19, 2009. Among the most influential designers of our time, Arad (British, b. Israel 1951) stands out for his adventurous approach to form, structure, technology, and materials in work that spans the disciplines of industrial design, sculpture, architecture, and mixed-medium installation. Arad’s relentless experimentation with materials of all kinds – from steel, aluminum, and bronze to thermoplastics, crystals, fiberoptics, and LEDs – and his radical reinterpretation of some of the most established archetypes in furniture – from armchairs and rocking chairs to desk lamps and chandeliers – have put him at the forefront of contemporary design.

The exhibition features approximately 140 works, including design objects and architectural models, and 60 videos. Most of the objects featured in the exhibition are displayed in a monumental Corten-and-stainless-steel structure specially designed by the artist called Cage sans Frontières (Cage without Borders). The structure measures 126.5 feet (38.5 meters) long, spanning the entire length of the Museum’s International Council gallery, and over 16 feet (5 meters) tall. The exhibition is organised by Paola Antonelli, Senior Curator, and Patricia Juncosa Vecchierini, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Architecture and Design, The Museum of Modern Art.

Ms. Antonelli states: “Arad is well known for his iconoclastic disregard for disciplines – and, at least apparently, for discipline. He has defined much of the current panorama of design, inspiring a generation of practitioners who disregard established modes of practice in favour of mutant design careers that are flexible enough to encompass the range of contemporary design applications, from interactions and interfaces to furniture and shoes.”

Arad’s accomplishments over the past three decades have stirred up the design world by repeatedly updating the concept of the architect/designer/artist and repositioning design side by side with art, both in discourse and in the market – all while keeping one foot firmly in industrial production and large-scale distribution. Idiosyncratic and surprising, Arad’s designs communicate the joy of invention, pleasure, humour, and pride in the display of their technical and constructive skills.

This exhibition celebrates Arad’s spirit by combining industrial design, studio pieces, and architecture. It features Arad’s most celebrated historical pieces, including the Rover Chair (1981) (see above), the Concrete Stereo (1983) (see above), and the Bookworm bookshelves (1993) (see below), along with more recent products such as the PizzaKobra lamp (2008) (see below) and the latest reincarnation of his Volumes series (1998), the armchair duo titled Even the Odd Balls? (2009) (see below).

Cage sans Frontières was specially designed by Arad, developed with Michael Castellana from Ron Arad Associates, and manufactured and installed by Marzorati Ronchetti, Italy, under the direction of Roberto Travaglia. The structure is in the shape of a twisted loop and consists of 240 square cut-outs lined with stainless steel that act as shelves for the objects in the exhibition. The dramatic installation relies on the scale of the structure and on the reflectivity of the inner walls of the cut-outs which creates a ricocheting effect. One side of the structure is continually covered with grey gauze fabric that acts as a translucent, elastic membrane. The fabric was donated by the textile company Maharam and was cut and stitched by the jeans manufacturer Notify, which is also a sponsor of the exhibition. The structure was commissioned and lent to the exhibition by Singapore FreePort Pte Ltd, an arts storage facility.

Monitors installed in the structure and on the walls feature animations of the design and production process of some of the objects on view; animated renderings of architectural projects represented in the exhibition by models; and a video showing time-lapse footage of the construction of Cage sans Frontières. Other objects – including the Bookworm and This Mortal Coil bookshelves (both 1993) and the Shadow of Time clock (1986) – are installed along the perimeter of the gallery. Two of Arad’s sofas, Do-Lo-Res (2008) (see below) and Misfits (1993) (see below), are installed outside the exhibition entrance, and visitors are invited to sit on them.

Ever since he founded his studio, together with long-time business partner Caroline Thorman, in 1981 (first called One Off, and then reestablished in 1989 as Ron Arad Associates), Arad has produced an outstanding array of innovative objects, from limited editions to unlimited series, from carbon fibre armchairs to polyurethane bottle racks. A designer and an architect, trained at the Bezalel Academy of Art in Jerusalem and at London’s Architectural Association School of Architecture, he has also designed memorable spaces – some plastic and tactile, others digital and ethereal – such as the lobby of the Tel Aviv Opera House (1994-98), Yohji Yamamoto’s showroom in Tokyo (2003), and the Holon Design Museum, Israel (nearing completion), all of which will be represented in the exhibition with models and videos. In his influential role as Head of the Design Products Masters’ Degree course at the Royal College of Art in London from 1997 until this year, he has nurtured several innovative designers, including Julia Lohmann, Paul Cocksedge, and Martino Gamper.

The 1981 Rover Chairs (see above), which launched Arad’s design career even though at the time he was not seeking any particular professional label, are emblematic of his early readymade creations. The chairs are made of discarded leather seats from the Rover V8 2L, a British car, anchored in tubular-steel frames using Kee Klamps, an inexpensive scaffolding system. Arad stopped making them once he realised that the overwhelming demand for the chairs was transforming his atelier into a dedicated Rover Chair manufacturer. The Italian company Moroso is about to produce an industrial version of the chair under the name Moreover.

The Concrete Stereo (1983) (see above) is another milestone in Arad’s work with readymades. It is very simply a hi-fi system – with turntable, amplifier, and speakers – cast in concrete. The concrete was then partially chipped away, exposing the steel armature, the electronic components, and the pebbles in the cement.

Objects in the exhibition are grouped as families whose common thread is the exploration, sometimes over years, of a form, a material, a technique, or a structural idea. An example is the investigation of elasticity and surprise that began with the Well Tempered Chair (1986) (see above) – a chair made of four sprung sheets of steel held together by wing nuts that come together to suggest the archetypical shape of an armchair. Another example is the Volumes series (1988), which comprises, among others, his renowned Big Easy (1988) (see above) and its various iterations, among them the Soft Big Easy (1990) (see above) and the painted-fibreglass New Orleans (1999) (see above).

Not Made by Hand, Not Made in China, another important family and a milestone in Arad’s career and in the history of design, is a series of limited-edition objects – vases, sculptures, lamps, and bowls – that Arad presented in 2000 at the annual Milan Furniture Fair. All the objects in the series were made using 3-D printing, which at that time was almost exclusively used to create one-off models for objects that would later be produced in series using traditional manufacturing processes. Treating rapid prototypes as final products rather than templates, Arad turned the new process into an advanced production method, a path that was subsequently followed by several designers.

A more recent family is the Bodyguards (2008) (see below), in which the same initial shape in blown aluminium is differently intersected by imaginary planes and cut to reveal ever-changing personalities, from a rocking chair to a stern bodyguard-like sculpture.

To give life to his ideas, Arad relies on the latitude provided by computers as much as on his own exquisite drafting skills, and he uses both the most advanced automated manufacturing techniques and the simple welding apparatuses in his collaborators’ metal workshops. Often, his work is a combination of high and low technologies, such as his Lolita chandelier (2004) (see below) for Swarovski. Made with 2,100 crystals and 1,050 white LEDs, the Lolita takes the shape of a flat ribbon wound into a corkscrew shape. The ribbon contains 31 processors that enable the display of text messages sent to the Lolita’s mobile phone number. For this exhibition, visitors can send texts to (917) 774-6264. The messages appear at the top of the chandelier and slowly wind down the ribbon’s curves, creating the impression that the chandelier is spinning ever so slightly.”

Press release from the MoMA website

 

Ron Arad. 'Soft Big Easy' 1990

 

Ron Arad (British-Israeli, b. 1951)
Soft Big Easy chair
1990
Injected flame-retardant polyurethane foam, steel, polypropylene, and wool
39 3/8 x 48 7/16 x 31 1/2″ (100 x 123 x 80 cm)
Manufactured by Moroso SpA, Italy
Courtesy Moroso SpA, Udine, Italy
Image: CNAC/MNAM/Dist. Réunion des Musées Nationaux/Art Resource, NY. Photo Jean-Claude Planchet

 

Ron Arad. 'Large Bookworm' 1993, Tempered sprung steel and patinated steel

 

Ron Arad (British-Israeli, b. 1951)
Large Bookworm
1993
Tempered sprung steel and patinated steel
Bracket height variable, 7 7/8-11 13/16″ (20-30 cm); total length 49′ 2 9/16″ (15 m); depth 13″ (33 cm)
Edition by One Off/Ron Arad Associates, London
Private collection
Image: Ron Arad Associates, London

 

Ron Arad. 'Misfits' 1993

 

Ron Arad (British-Israeli, b. 1951)
Misfits
1993
Injected flame-retardant polyurethane foam, steel, polypropylene, and wool
Six modules: each h. variable, base 39 3/8 x 39 3/8″ (100 x 100 cm)
Manufactured by Moroso SpA, Italy, 2007
Courtesy Moroso SpA, Udine, Italy
Image: Ron Arad Associates, London

 

 

Misfits is a seating system Arad developed, at Patrizia Moroso’s request, to launch Waterlily, a new water-blown foam made by ICI Polyurethane. From large cubes of foam he carved out modular – or, rather, mock-modular – sections, intending them to be graciously ill-fitting with each other (hence the name). The modules can stand on their own or be combined in various ways, but however they are lined up they are meant to look deliberately mismatched, without continuity from section to section. Some sections have backs and some do not, and the irregular solids and voids created quite a challenge for Moroso, who had to figure out how to cover them all with fabric. The recent reedition of Misfits is made with slightly larger blocks from a different polyurethane foam, which is injected into a mould rather than cut.

 

Ron Arad. 'D-Sofa' Prototype 1994

 

Ron Arad (British-Israeli, b. 1951)
D-Sofa Prototype
1994
Patinated, painted, oxidized stainless steel and mild steel
38 3/16″ x 7′ 1 13/16″ x 35 7/16″ (97 x 218 x 90 cm)
Prototype by One Off, London
Pizzuti Collection
Image: Private collection, USA. Photo Erik and Petra Hesmerg

 

Ron Arad. 'Uncut' 1997

 

Ron Arad (British-Israeli, b. 1951)
Uncut chair
1997
Vacuum-formed aluminum sheet and polished stainless steel
32 5/8 x 38 5/8 x 35″ (83 x 98 x 89 cm)
Edition by Ron Arad Studio, Italy
Centre Pompidou, Paris, Musée national d’art moderne/Centre de création industrielle

 

Ron Arad. 'FPE (Fantastic, Plastic, Elastic)' 1997

 

Ron Arad (British-Israeli, b. 1951)
FPE (Fantastic, Plastic, Elastic)
1997
Extruded aluminum profiles and injection-molded polypropylene plastic sheet
31.25 x 17 x 22″ (79.4 x 43.2 x 55.9 cm)
Manufactured by Kartell, Italy
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of the manufacturer
Image: Ron Arad Associates, London

 

 

FPE (Fantastic, Plastic, Elastic) is an inexpensive stacking chair made from lightweight plastic and aluminium. The design, originally conceived in plywood (as the Cross Your T’s Chair), was part of a commission from Mercedes-Benz for a transportable exhibition stand that would be taken to motor shows in Europe. The chair was not suited to small-scale production, and was therefore tweaked and perfected for mass manufacture. Its final form is exceptional in the simplicity of its construction: a plastic seat is inserted into channels in double-barrelled extruded aluminium profiles, which, when the chair frame is bent, hold the plastic in place. With no need for glue, screws, or bolts, this method allows the simplest combination of frame and plane to create a sinuous, practical, resilient form – proving Arad’s ability to embrace industrial production and make the best of its possibilities. The FPE can be stacked in groups of eight, comes in three colours (opaline, blue, and red, although it was originally available in yellow), and can be used both indoors and out.

 

Ron Arad. 'New Orleans' 1999

 

Ron Arad (British-Israeli, b. 1951)
New Orleans chair
1999

 

Ron Arad. 'Lolita Chandelier' 2004

 

Ron Arad (British-Israeli, b. 1951)
Lolita Chandelier
2004
Crystals and light-emitting diodes (LEDs)
59″ (150 cm) height x 43 1/4″ (110 cm) top-plate diam.; weight 352.7 lbs (160 kg)
Edition by Swarovski, Austria
Courtesy of Galerie Arums, Paris
Send a text message to Lolita: (917) 774-6264
Image: Ron Arad Associates, London

 

 

When Nadja Swarovski set out to build a new division for her family’s company, Swarovski Crystal, she invited Arad to reinvent the chandelier as a juxtaposition of traditional form with modern technology. The new collection of chandeliers, called Crystal Palace, launched in 2002, and Arad’s Lolita was ready in 2004. Made with 2,100 crystals and 1,050 white LEDs, Lolita takes the shape of a flat ribbon wound into a corkscrew shape. The ribbon contains thirty-one processors that enable the display of SMS text messages sent to Lolita’s mobile phone number; these messages appear at the top of the chandelier and wind down the ribbon’s curves, slowly enough to give bystanders time to read, creating the impression that the chandelier is spinning ever so slightly. The name is the result of grace under pressure: on the phone with Swarovski and pressed for a name, Arad thought of another work in progress, his LED riddled Lo-Rez-Dolores-Tabula-Rasa, and from there went to “Lolita” – the nickname of Vladimir Nabokov’s Dolores Haze. The name stuck, creating not only a saucy entry in many a design buff’s phone book but a further literary association as well: as a journalist pointed out to Arad, Nabokov’s novel begins, “Lolita, light of my life…”

 

Ron Arad. 'Oh Void 2' armchair 2004

 

Ron Arad (British-Israeli, b. 1951)
Oh Void 2 armchair
2004

 

Ron Arad (British-Israeli, b. 1951) 'Oh Void 2 armchair' 2006

 

Ron Arad (British-Israeli, b. 1951)
Oh Void 2 armchair
2006
Acrylic
30 1/4 x 43 x 23 5/8″ (76.8 x 109.2 x 60 cm)
Edition by The Gallery Mourmans, the Netherlands
Collection of Michael G. Jesselson, New York

 

Ron Arad. 'Table Paved With Good Intentions No. 48' 2005

 

Ron Arad (British-Israeli, b. 1951)
Table Paved With Good Intentions No. 48
2005
Mirror-polished, laser-cut stainless steel
55″ x 8′ 2″ x 15″ (139.7 x 238.8 x 38.1 cm); weight 176.4 lbs (80 kg)
Edition by Ron Arad for The Gallery Mourmans, the Netherlands
Collection Jérôme and Emmanuelle de Noirmont, Paris
Image: Emmanuelle and Jérôme de Noirmont. Photo: Mathieu Ferrier

 

 

Arad’s installation for Design Miami in 2005 consisted of sixty-nine tables made of mirror-polished stainless steel and covering an entire gallery, folding at the corners and climbing up the walls like handsome quicksilver parasites from outer space. Arad had experimented with reflective tables eleven years earlier, in an installation for one of the Fondation Cartier’s famous Soirées Nomades, in which designers were invited to provide a stage for music and other types of performances in Jean Nouvel’s building for the Paris-based foundation. There, Arad displayed forty tables that covered the ground floor, reflecting the surrounding trees and enhancing the glass architecture’s openness toward the city surrounding it.

 

MT Rocker Chair, 2005

 

Ron Arad (British-Israeli, b. 1951)
MT Rocker Chair
2005
Polished bronze rods
29 x 33 1/2 x 40″ (73.7 x 85.1 x 101.6 cm)
Edition by Ron Arad Associates, London
Private collection, USA
Image: Ron Arad Associates, London

 

 

Arad’s work often begins as a studio piece that is later adapted for industrial production, but in some cases the direction is reversed, as was the case with the MT (or “empty”) series. Intrigued by the untapped potential of rotation-moulding, one of the humblest methods of manufacturing plastic products, Arad came up with beautiful, complex concave/convex forms, highlighted by contrasting colours, for an armchair, rocker, and couch. The MT collection is manufactured by Driade, but Arad subsequently translated the rocking piece into versions made of polished stainless steel or bronze, using an exquisite technique involving the patient application, by hand, of metal rods onto a basic structure.

 

Ron Arad. 'Southern Hemisphere' 2007

 

Ron Arad (British-Israeli, b. 1951)
Southern Hemisphere
2007
Patinated aluminium
Photo by Erik and Petra Hesmerg and courtesy of Private Collection, Maastricht, and the Museum of Modern Art

 

Ron Arad. 'Do-Lo-Res' 2008

 

Ron Arad (British-Israeli, b. 1951)
Do-Lo-Res
2008
Polyurethane foam, polyester fibres, and wood
Dimensions variable: 10 13/16 x 8 1/4 x 8 1/4 x 32 1
1/16″ (27.5 x 21 x 21 x 83 cm) Manufactured by Moroso SpA, Italy
Courtesy Moroso SpA, Udine, Italy
Image: Moroso

 

 

Do-Lo-Rez is a seating unit made of rectangular block elements, each one constructed from polyurethane foam, denser at the bottom and softer at the top. The name echoes the Lo-Rez-Dolores-Tabula-Rasa project, and both designs are different manifestations of Arad’s interest in digital pixilation and low resolution. Here the foam “pixels” of different heights are attached to a platform with steel pins and can be rearranged to create different sofa forms.

 

Ron Arad. 'PizzaKobra' lamp 2008

 

Ron Arad (British-Israeli, b. 1951)
PizzaKobra lamp
2008
Chromed steel, aluminium, and light-emitting diodes (LEDs)
Extended: 28 7/8″ (73.3 cm) height x 10 1/4″ (26 cm) diam.; collapsed: 3/4″ (1.9 cm) height x 10 1/4″ (26 cm) diam.
Manufactured by iGuzzini illuminazione SpA, Italy, 2008
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of the manufacturer

 

 

This lamp, which transforms itself from a coil as flat as a pizza to a sinuous, rising metal cobra with a single glowing red eye (its on/off switch), is as surprising as it is playful, as much like a twisty Tangle Toy as a very efficient and flexible light source. With its tubular aluminium sections – except for the base, which is heavier steel, for balance – and six LEDs that can be oriented in any direction, the PizzaKobra can be adjusted to suit any lighting requirements.

 

Ron Arad. 'Bodyguard' 2008

 

Ron Arad (British-Israeli, b. 1951)
Bodyguard chair
2008
Polished and partially coloured superplastic aluminium
49 x 36 x 70 1/2″ (124.5 x 91.4 x 179.1 cm)
Edition by The Gallery Mourmans, the Netherlands
Private collection, Palm Beach, Florida

 

 

The Bodyguards, a recent result of Arad’s experiments with blown aluminium, are all derived from the same bulbous shape, intersected and carved in various ways. Although Arad had sworn off designing rocking chairs, it seemed a natural application for this new technology, allowing him to create these large, polished pieces, which, in addition to rocking back and forth, also swivel in a way Arad describes as “omnidirectional.” With the Bodyguards, as with much of his furniture, Arad explores the expressive qualities of the material, pursuing a way to transcend its physical limitations. He has described the pieces as monsters – huge and labor intensive, some resembling a human torso and revealing colourful insides when cut. (Arad was teased about the number of security guards present at a show in Dolce & Gabbana’s Metropol space in Milan, in 2006 – hence the name.)

 

Installation Photographs of the Exhibition

Installation view of 'Ron Arad: No Discipline' exhibition featuring 'Cage sans Frontières (Cage without Borders)' with 'Even the Odd Balls?' chairs (2009) and 'Lolita Chandelier' (2004)

 

Installation view of Ron Arad: No Discipline exhibition featuring Cage sans Frontières (Cage without Borders) with Even the Odd Balls? chairs (2009) and Lolita Chandelier (2004)
Photo courtesy of Ron Arad Associates and the Museum of Modern Art

 

Installation view of 'Ron Arad: No Discipline' exhibition, featuring 'Cage sans Frontières (Cage without Borders)'

 

Installation view of Ron Arad: No Discipline exhibition, featuring Cage sans Frontières (Cage without Borders)
Photo courtesy of Ron Arad Associates and the Museum of Modern Art

 

Installation view of 'Ron Arad: No Discipline' exhibition, featuring 'Cage sans Frontières (Cage without Borders)'

 

Installation view of Ron Arad: No Discipline exhibition, featuring Cage sans Frontières (Cage without Borders)
Photo courtesy of Ron Arad Associates and the Museum of Modern Art

 

Installation view of 'Ron Arad: No Discipline' exhibition, featuring 'Cage sans Frontières (Cage without Borders)' with two 'Rolling Volume' chairs (1989 and 1991), left, and two 'Bodyguard' chairs (2007)

 

Installation view of Ron Arad: No Discipline exhibition, featuring Cage sans Frontières (Cage without Borders) with two Rolling Volume chairs (1989 and 1991), left, and two Bodyguard chairs (2007)

 

Installation view of 'Ron Arad: No Discipline' exhibition, featuring 'Cage sans Frontières (Cage without Borders)' with in the foreground, 'Oh Void 2' armchairs

 

Installation view of Ron Arad: No Discipline exhibition, featuring Cage sans Frontières (Cage without Borders) with in the foreground, Oh Void 2 armchairs

 

 

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
11, West Fifty-Third Street, New York

Opening hours:
Sunday, Tuesday – Thursday 10.30 am – 5.30 pm
Friday 10.30 am – 8 pm
Saturday 10.30 am – 5.30 pm
Closed Tuesday

MOMA website

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His art work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes Art Blart, a photographic archive and form of cultural memory, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne, a Master of Arts (Fine Art Photography) from RMIT University, and a Master of Art Curatorship from the University of Melbourne.

Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Mask’ 1994

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