UNSCRIPTED with Ron Arad: Under the Hat, Behind the Mask

Discover the lesser-known side of the Israeli industrial designer on UNSCRIPTED – an original series of video conversations documenting the stories that are not scripted yet.

by Zohra KhanPublished on : May 14, 2021

"I was brought up in an arty home and while growing up I thought everyone was an artist. I didn’t know that some people were not artists," says Ron Arad on UNSCRIPTED as he reminisces days from his childhood in Tel Aviv, where he was born in 1951 to a sculptor father and painter mother.

In this series of quick-witted interviews presented by STIR, legendary Israeli industrial designer, artist and architect, Ron Arad, shares fond memories from his growing up years, his obsession with hats, cars and ping pong, and hobbies and rituals that have kept him hooked in the last many months of global COVID-19 lockdown.

I do so much because I am lazy. I am not a methodical person who goes way deep into something. I like to jump from one thing to the other.
  • A photo of Ron Arad from early years of his career | UNSCRIPTED with Ron Arad | Interview | STIRworld
    A photo of Ron Arad from early years of his career Image: Courtesy of Ron Arad Associates
  • Ron with S-Cargo | UNSCRIPTED with Ron Arad | Interview | STIRworld
    Ron Arad with S-Cargo Image: Courtesy of Ron Arad Associates
  • Ron Arad playing ping pong on 10 LAYERS – a ping pong table designed by him in collaboration with Silestone® | UNSCRIPTED with Ron Arad | Interview | STIRworld
    Ron Arad playing ping pong on 10 LAYERS – a ping pong table designed by him in collaboration with Silestone® Image: Courtesy of Ron Arad Associates
  • A photograph of him from his childhood | UNSCRIPTED with Ron Arad | Interview | STIRworld
    A photograph of him from his childhood Image: Courtesy of Ron Arad Associates

Arad shares that as he was exceptionally good with drawing and sketching as a child, this caught the interest of his mother who being an artist herself believed that art was not a 'safe' profession, but architecture was. “Instead of saying, “He’ll be a good artist one day,” she often used to say, “He’ll be a good architect”. How wrong she was!” he recounts with a smile.

  • Ron Arad in his studio | UNSCRIPTED with Ron Arad | Interview | STIRworld
    Ron Arad in his studio Image: Ssam sung-un Kim
  • The artist is recognised for his constant experimentation with materials such as steel and aluminium | UNSCRIPTED with Ron Arad | Interview | STIRworld
    The artist is recognised for his constant experimentation with materials such as steel and aluminium Image: Ssam sung-un Kim
  • Rover Chair (1981) | UNSCRIPTED with Ron Arad | Interview | STIRworld
    Rover Chair (1981) Image: Courtesy of Ron Arad Associates
  • Big Easy chair in patinated steel (1987) | UNSCRIPTED with Ron Arad | Interview | STIRworld
    Big Easy chair in patinated steel (1987) Image: Courtesy of Ron Arad Associates

The London-based designer, who turned 70 on April 24, 2021, is considered today as one of the most influential contemporary voices in the world of design. While he emerged, in the early 80s, as a distinctive young talent with the design of his first product – the sharp and sleek postmodernist masterpiece, Rover Chair - his works only got bigger and better as years passed by. Recognised for constant experimentation with materials such as steel and aluminium, his works created over the last three decades have celebrated three major retrospectives - hosted at the MOMA in New York, the Pompidou Centre in Paris and the Barbican in London – and presented as public collections of some of the most important museums and galleries worldwide. He is a recipient of several coveted honours including the London Design Medal, the Gio Ponti International Design Award, and the Compasso d’Oro.

I am afraid of boredom but not really because there are always ways to amuse yourself.
20 mins watch Ron Arad’s speech at the Royal Academy of Arts during the 2020 Summer Exhibition (in the background is his work ‘Oh Lord, Won’t You Buy Me?’) | UNSCRIPTED with Ron Arad | Interview | STIRworld
Ron Arad’s speech at the Royal Academy of Arts during the 2020 Summer Exhibition (in the background is his work ‘Oh Lord, Won’t You Buy Me?’) Video: Courtesy of Ron Arad Associates

On UNSCRIPTED, the former AA London graduate talks about how sameness and trends that dominate the design world bore him and why he believes manifestos, instructions and particularly the world ‘should’ comprise sheer nonsense when it comes to architectural education today. A design advice that he swears by, he adds, is to not listen to any advice.

Ron Arad with his work Morgan Undercover at the Huntsman Store in London | UNSCRIPTED with Ron Arad | Interview | STIRworld
Ron Arad with his work Morgan Undercover at the Huntsman Store in London Image: Courtesy of Ron Arad Associates

Having designed iconic products for many leading design companies such as Kartell, Moroso, Vitra, Alessi and Cappellini and Cassina, to name a few, the master experimenter walks STIR through two of his most recent projects – a bespoke suit imagined as protection blanket covering cars in the street (Morgan Undercover), and artistic masks that let you wear the maniacal smile of Albert Einstein, the unsettling expression of Dali, and the animated grin of Shakespeare.

UNSCRIPTED Curator Pramiti Madhavji with Ron at his studio in London (2014) | UNSCRIPTED with Ron Arad | Interview | STIRworld
UNSCRIPTED Curator Pramiti Madhavji with Ron at his studio in London (2014) Image: Courtesy of Pramiti Madhavji

Tap on the cover video for the complete conversation.

UNSCRIPTED:
Curated by Pramiti Madhavji (Consultant, Content Adviser, STIR), UNSCRIPTED is a STIR-original series of quick-witted video interviews with leading design professionals who give a peek into their undiscovered lives. A melting pot of quests, revelations and quirks, the series releases a new episode every Sunday as designers reveal unheard and unknown nuggets from their lives, in response to 30 questions.  

All photographs © Ron Arad. Images may not be downloaded, copied, reproduced, or used in part or whole without obtaining permission. The photographs in this video are not licensed for personal, commercial, or public use, or use in the public domain in any form.

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