"You can come up with an idea... and think, why have they not come up with this before? Lazy people!" The legend that is Ron Arad exclaims as Crane.tv meets him to unravel his past at his Camden studio. The past we spoke of began at the end of the sixties when he first moved to London, in search of creative inspiration in its cinematic and musical forms. After studying architecture Israeli-born Arad took the traditional route and worked for a practice -- albeit reluctantly. In no time did he realized that he was in no way cut out to work for others, "So after one lunch, I didn't go back and I made my first piece of furniture." Standing by a 'Rover chair' -- the design that sparked his career -- was one of Britain's most prominent designers approaching the idea of the chair being a functional object versus a sculpture. "Sometimes you design things to be sold as a mass product for shops, for catalogues... Sometimes you design things that although you can sit on them, the destination is an art gallery or a collection or a museum rather than a shop."
Refusing to be pigeon-holed in his practice, let alone position himself on either side of the art/design divide; Arad transcends these boundaries of thinking, removing the differentiation between art, architecture, sculpture, furniture and product design in all of his activities. Posing us with further metaphysical questions when he speaks of having favourite designs -- yet, still having not designed his favourite... "It's nice to end up with something in the evening that didn't exist in the morning," he puts it very simply... though we have our suspicions. Never working within the restrictions and expectations of a formula -- is probably the closest we're going to get to understanding Arad -- in this way does he discover new processes and encounter new materials. "Sometimes you think of something completely different, sometimes the reverse happens -- you think of what material would give the best results. Sometimes the material looks for the function. Sometimes it's the function that looks for the material."
Aside from an art-minded, self-confessed attraction towards doing things no one needs or can afford, Arad is interested in the creation of 'the new': to surprise others, to provide what isn't 'as they all are, conservative, the same'. Which brings us back to his statement at the start, a reply of, "don't wish you were the new Phillip Starck. It's a waste of time." He sees far more value in one's understanding of what is good about what they do themselves and what each of us can teach others in what we don't understand yet.
Text by Carmen Ho for Crane.tv
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