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July 12, 2002 - Image 74

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2002-07-12

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Far left:
Arad's FPE (Fantastic
Plastic Elastic) chairs,
designed in 1997 and
still being produced by
Kartell SpA, an Italian
manufacturer, are made
of plastic and extruded

Left: Inspired in part by
an aluminum airplane
wing that hangs in his
kitchen, Arad's "Tom
Vac" chairs can appear
transparent or opaque,
depending on the viewing
angle. The design evolved
into an injection-molded
plastic version for mass

Chair-Man Arad

Cranbrook's 'Aluminum by Design" exhibit includes pieces by trendy Israeli-born designer.


Special to the Jewish News





on Arad has designed
many chairs, but the vol-
ume and range of his work
would suggest he's too
busy to spend much time sitting
around in them. The Israeli-born
artist, now based in England, keeps on
the move running his own design
company and teaching.
Arad chairs, only one category
among his diverse projects, also are on
the move this season as part of
Aluminum by Design: Jewelry to Jets, an
exhibit organized by the Carnegie
Museum of Art in Pittsburgh and
showcased through Aug. 25 at the
Cranbrook Art Museum.
The exhibit, which will travel to
Canada and Europe, explores how alu-
minum inspired inventive design and
technology and traces the material
from its first use as a precious metal in
the 19th century through its evolving
functions in furniture, vehicles, build-
ings, clothing and consumer products.
"We are thrilled to join museums
such as the Carnegie and Cooper-

Hewitt in hosting this groundbreaking
exhibit," says Gregory Wittkopp,
director of the Cranbrook Art
"The exhibition is an unusual one,
looking at some of the best works of
contemporary design and architecture
through the lens of one simple yet rev-
olutionary medium — aluminum.
"We also feel it is an important
exhibition for the Detroit area, show-
casing the way aluminum helped
change and shape so many aspects of
the auto industry."

User-Friendly Seating

Although Arad uses many materials in
his design work, the aluminum chairs
showcased in this exhibit are prime
examples of the versatility and practi-
cality this metal came to represent for
a man who understands auto design.
Among his designs is a line of chairs
with seats from Rover motorcars
attached to tubular steel bases he
"Every material invites you to do
different things with it, and aluminum
is very user-friendly," says Arad, 51,

stroke it from the out-
who was keynote
side because it's very
speaker when the
exhibit debuted in
Arad, an architect
and professor of indus-
"Aluminum has
trial and furniture
certain suggestions
design at the Royal
because it's softer
College of Art in
and lighter than
London, began experi-
steel, polishes very
menting with alu-
well and can be
minum in the mid-
welded, bent, cut
1980s. Using structural
and drilled.
honeycomb aluminum,
"My 'Tom Vac'
which can appear trans-
chair is made of
parent or opaque
depending on the view-
aluminum using
ing angle, he designed
technology devel- Architect Ron Arad:
lampshades and screens.
oped mainly for
"We're not about restyling."
The designer cap-
the aircraft indus-
tured considerable
try. Aluminum
attention during the 1997 Furniture
can be [subjected to] high tempera-
Fair in Milan, Italy. Domus, an Italian
tures and high pressures that are able
architecture and design magazine,
to bring changes not available with
asked him to create a temporary land-
other techniques.
mark in the center of the city as a
"The aluminum making up the
magazine promotion and suggested a
chair is thin, 4 millimeters, but the
sculpture of 100 stacking chairs.
rings make it three dimensional and
Working with an aluminum compa-
give it structure. The chair is very gen-
ny, he developed the "Tom Vac' chair,
erous, and it's almost like you are
and 33 feet of "Tom Vacs" were used
wearing it when you're seated. People

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