Digitally deconstructed renderings of imploding Fiat 500s form the base of this short film, showing alongside lustrous steel chair frames, high-tech 3D printing and raw copper molds at Ron Arad’s latest show, In Reverse, hosted by the Design Museum Holon, Israel. Arad designed the museum in 2010 with the aim of turning the city into a design hub for the Middle East and triggering worldwide interest in the creative output of the area. One of the trailblazers of modern design, Arad has been working with metal for over three decades to create a comprehensive series of works that transcend art, architecture, design and installation. He first rose to fame in the 1980s and has since headed the Design Products Department at London’s prestigious Royal College of Art, as well as working with such big-name brands as Alessi, Vitra, Kenzo and Yohji Yamamoto. In Reverse takes Arad’s work a step further into the realm of digital, as he explores how the shape and form of the Italian automobile reacts under different strains. “I was in the middle of squashing a huge sculpture, and had this Fiat 500 gathering rust outside my studio.” explains the designer. “One day I said to myself ‘Let me squash that, too!’” I practiced with model cars, then graduated to real-size ones. It’s not a complex idea, but I talked about the car with the museums who got very excited by it, so there we are!”
How does it feel to be coming home, as it were?
Ron Arad: It took me until now to agree to do a show at the museum, mainly because I think of it as my piece, so I don’t want to use it for my own work as well! This show was so successful though—I’ve been at the Pompidou, MoMA, the Barbican, and so I was excited to end the journey here. I know the museum so well, so it made it easier to plan. And now it’s pretty thrilling to see people enjoying the show and the building
What interests you about working with metal?
RA: When I first started work, metal was a forgiving material: I could work with it without being a craftsman. I can cut it, weld it, sharpen it, polish it and make it an extension of sketching. There’s no blueprint.
Is this your first venture into digital simulation?
RA: When I first bashed metal, I had people around me who were obviously much better then me—they were better at polishing or sculpting. But with digital technology, anything is possible and I can be as good at creating something as I like. I still draw everything in some way, but the digital in this case enhances it.
And the squashing of cars?
RA: It’s funny, because out of the six cars, not one is the favorite: everyone chooses a different one so it’s a hung parliament, as it were. It’s interesting to see something so full of shape and recognizable instantly take on a new form.