Ron Arad: Metal Maestro

The Forward-Thinking Designer Returns to the Israeli Museum He Built

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.

(Read More)

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  • ON REPLAY
    ON REPLAY

    Fiat 500 by Gucci

    Director Chris Sweeney Celebrates the Italian Fashion House’s New Twist on an Automotive Icon

    High heels, handbags and perfume bottles are transformed into a steering wheel, car exhaust and wheel rims by a vacuum-forming machine in director Chris Sweeney’s short for the new Fiat 500 by Gucci. Originally launched in 1957, the latest iteration of the doe-eyed classic has been specially customized by Gucci’s Creative Director Frida Giannini, who enhanced the Fiat 500’s distinguishing traits and added the fashion house’s signature detailing via a signature red-green web down the side and the unmistakable “Guccissima” leather print on the seats. Invited alongside visionaries such as Italian Vogue's Franco Sozzani and Purple’s Olivier Zahm to dream up a film celebrating the partnership between the Italian automaker and fashion house, Sweeney created a giant plastic model kit of the Fiat 500 by Gucci like the ones he used to make as a kid. “It’s an extreme, austere fashion version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or Wallace and Gromit, which are very playful, silly, colorful and magic,” explains Sweeney of his film. An established music video director who has made shorts for the likes of Foals, Friendly Fires and original Pop Idol Will Young, the London-based Sweeney’s graphic rhythms have been sought by luxury brand YSL, hairstyling prodigy Charlie Le Mindu and fashion titles Vogue and i-D. “The Fiat 500 is a car that everyone holds close to their hearts,” says Sweeney. “It’s an icon of design.”

    (Read More)
  • MOST SHARED IN DESIGN
    MOST SHARED IN DESIGN

    United Visual Artists: Reinventing the Wheel

    The London-based Collective Teams Up with VANDEYK for this Hypnotic Short

    A bicycle wheel is transformed into an homage to early op art in this mesmerizing collaboration between United Visual Artists and Stuttgart-based VANDEYK Contemporary Cycles. Inspired by the likes of Bridget Riley, the London-based collective UVA used LED strips and motion control systems to create a hypnotic vortex that momentarily threatens to suck the viewer in. Known for sitting at the intersection of sculpture, architecture, live performance, moving image and digital installation, UVA devised the film's surging soundtrack using audio effects of the bike company’s latest limited-collection release, Purple Blast (a nod to the color of solar flares). The result is a crafty reference to Marcel Duchamp’s early 20th-century notion of the readymade.

    STATS FROM ON SET

    Location
    The dark bunker underneath the UVA studio.

    Camera
    A Canon 5D MKII, to shoot stills.

    Hours on set
    30.

    Inspiration
    Victor Vasarely and Bridget Riley were obvious influences, but also the phase experiments by Steve Reich and John Cage, linking visual feedback and movement with sound.

    Helmet worn
    No.

    Happy accidents
    During testing the LED strip was installed on one of the director’s bikes. They forgot to take it off and were soon riding around the city looking very bling indeed.

    (Read More)

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