Ron Arad - Modern Masters London Tuesday, April 25, 2017 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Gifted by the designer to Shaun Crown, 1993
    Bonhams, Knightsbridge, 'Design', 8 February 1997, lot 262
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Literature

    One Offs & Short Runs, exh. cat., Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein, 1995, pp. 112-13
    Deyan Sudjic, Ron Arad, London, 1999, pp. 58-59
    Ron Arad: A Retrospective Exhibition 1981-2001, exh. cat., Barry Friedman Ltd., New York, 2005, pp. 67, 101
    Paola Antonelli, Jonathan Safran Foer, Marie-Laure Jousset, Ron Arad: No Discipline, exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2009, p. 82

  • Catalogue Essay

    Phillips wishes to thank Caroline Thorman from Ron Arad Associates for her assistance with the cataloguing of this lot.

    Ron Arad, Poet of production

    In 1981, upon finishing his education at the Architectural Association in London, Israeli art student Ron Arad established the One Of studio with Caroline Thorman. Motivated by the traditional ‘problem-solving’ concerns of a designer, he experimented with creating utilitarian objects for domestic use, often made from salvaged materials. These initial, laborious experimentation were not Arad’s most commercial enterprises, with the assumed target audience lacking a certain appreciation for the hard work that was involved in the production.

    Arad’s work cannot be defined solely by its often questionable practicality, with the production methods and ideas represented being of equal importance to the work. Distancing himself from mass-production, Arad began to focus on unique or limited edition objects in metal. Whilst a common approach at the time for handcrafted wooden furniture, metalwork was still perceived as a material to be mechanically mass produced. It was this decision that would make Arad a landmark designer in Britain in the 1980s and 1990s. Beginning with the Volume series, Arad explored a more sculptural expression in his furniture. Still informed by industrial design, his works remained functional; he however began to blur the lines between art and design. Recognising the poetic expression and artistic value in his work, Arad quickly attracted critical acclaim within the art world, giving him the financial freedom to focus more on techniques of fabrication.

    The welding and polishing involved in the production of the bulky and heavy works required the assistance of a larger workshop. Arad, a self-taught craftsman, handcrafted the first proof himself; later examples were executed in collaboration with his three skilled metal workers: Bob Booth, Ian Whittaker and Shaun Crown. Arad appeared to enjoy the romantic notion of the darkened welding referencing his drawings, but as he later remarked: “it was just the best that we could do at that time, and it was quite crude” (Deyan Sudjic, Ron Arad, London, 1999, p.56). Later examples became increasingly refined, the welds polished out until they disappeared entirely, resulting in a slick and seamless design.

    Little Heavy
    , first produced in 1989, is a testimony to this successful collaboration of his workshop. Incised with R. Arad and S. Crown on the reverse, this large, hollow, mass reveals the nature of the material used as well as the production process. Made on the occasion of Shaun Crown’s departure from the workshop, the work followed the edition of twenty Little Heavy chairs, ten of which were made in highly polished stainless steel, the other ten in a dark matt-finished steel. Similarly to Arad’s other works from the Volume series, no two variants from the metallic edition are identical. With irregular outlines, unfinished and imperfect beaten metal surfaces, each piece has its own unique character; Arad’s body of work ultimately is non-reproducible - each piece is unique.

  • Artist Biography

    Ron Arad

    Israeli • 1951

    Ron Arad's work and career is characterized by his movement between modes and constant experimentation. Arad was born in Tel Aviv, Israel in 1951 and studied at the Jerusalem Academy of Art before moving to London in 1973. He began his practice in London in the early 1980s and set up One Off Ltd, focused on limited edition objects, with his partner Caroline Thorman. A decade later he had moved to industrial production techniques and collaborations with large design firms such as Vitra and Kartell.

    A persistent theme throughout his work is innovation and the idea of the "new." Still producing work today, Arad uses the latest technology to produce his designs and also integrates it within his pieces, such as his Lolita Chandelier (2004) that can receive and display text messages. Arad also continually experiments with materials and has an exceptional skill to coax volume and undulation out of them, with a particular affinity for metal. His works such as The Big Easy chair (1988) walk the line between design and sculpture. Once an outsider, Arad's relentless energy to design, build and collaborate has placed him firmly within the highest ranks of the design world.

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'Little Heavy' chair

Polished stainless steel.
76 x 61 x 70 cm (29 7/8 x 24 x 27 1/2 in.)
Handmade by Ron Arad and Shaun Crown at One-Off Ltd., UK. Following the edition of 20 plus 5 artist's proofs. Reverse incised with R.ARAD+S.CROWN/88-93.

£25,000 - 35,000 

Sold for £31,250

Contact Specialist
Madalena Horta e Costa
Head of Sale
+44 20 7318 4019

Modern Masters

London Auction 26 April 2017