Friday, 26 March 2010

Ron Arad at the Barbican Centre

Yesterday I went to the Ron Arad exhibition at the Barbican Centre in London. Arad is an Israel born, London based, architect and product designer, although at times it would seem fair to refer to him as an artist too (similarities to the work of artists like Anish Kapoor spring to mind). I was aware of Arad’s plastic ‘Tom Vac’ chair, of his curvilinear ‘Book Worm’ shelving system, and of his use of metal for seating and other furnishings, but this exhibition introduced me to many other aspects of his work, giving me a newfound, greater interest in the designer.

The exhibition is called ‘Ron Arad: Restless,’ in reference to the incredible fluidity and sense of movement possessed by a lot of his designs, many of which are in themselves miniature feats of engineering and construction. Arad works frequently with metal, yet his pieces often have an organic feel to them, along with underlying connotations of sensuality thanks to the smooth, curvaceous forms, and the lifelike movements they make when set into motion.

These are a selection of the photos that I took (apologies for the quality, I did not have a proper camera with me).

These metal chairs resemble geological formations, or molten volcanic rock:

USA shelving:

Reclining chair with an indented human shape to lie in, inspired by the work of Antony Gormley:

Rocking shelves:

GOD/WAR light:

The chair on the right is the 'inverse' of the chair on the left (and vice-versa):

Shots from some of the architecture videos:

The exhibition is on until 16th May 2010, and it worth visiting. For more information, click here. Click here for more Arad images, including a clearer picture of the amazing Y's Yohji Yamamoto store in Tokyo that he designed.


The Barbican Centre is an enormous, Brutalist style concrete complex in the heart of the City of London (the financial district), designed by Chamberlin, Powell and Bon in the 1960s. It houses the largest performing arts centre in Europe, an art gallery (where the Ron Arad exhibition is on), and residential apartments and houses.

Even the decorative waterfall in the central lake has been reduced to a Brutal, utilitarian pipe.


  1. if you like your architecture brutal and concrete you should really pay a visit to Sheffield.

  2. i was recomended to take a trip round to the barbican but i never got round to it, my friend suggested i'd like it because it's quite different to the rest of the city. i share you opinion in it being harsh and intrusive, i love the pillars in the middle of the water. it's like a no frills Caribbean holiday resort.

    i'm really into furniture design currently so i'm liking some of the images here, esp the folding in together chairs. that usa map shelf thing is just fab too

  3. I really wish I could see this exhibition. Thanks for all the photos, it kind of makes up for it:)

    As for the Barbican, as an architect I really like the burtalist forms, but when it comes to urban design I think its a bit stark. The water features and planting do help a bit but the place often seems deserted and rather scary (I have only been there once). My sense is that the complex would not function well if it wasn't a high end residential complex. Its very difficult to keep something like that clean in the lower end market. Perhaps I should check it out on busier days, if there is such a thing :)

  4. the building's architecture is amazing! i especially loved the waterfall..