Tuesday22 August 2017

Architects take turns in Arad hot-seat

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Practices including Coffey, Make and AHMM redesign Tom Vac chair as part of Clerkenwell Design Week

Architects including AHMM, Farrells, Hawkins Brown and Coffey Architects have been commissioned to redesign Ron Arad’s hugely influential Tom Vac chair as part of this year’s Clerkenwell Design Week.

The challenge was created by Swiss design specialists Vitra, who produce Arad’s chair, and who will display the collection of 24 one-off versions at the May 20-22 event.

Vitra said its brief had been to “explore both novelty and memory in design, art and architecture” with the Arad 1997 chair as its focus.

Arad said he was interested to see people’s responses.

“Inspiration comes from strange places sometimes, so it’s good to know that Tom Vac is being used as a starting point as well as being an end product,” he said.

The original chairs were designed in the late 1990s as a stacking sculpture for the Milan Furniture Fair. Made from vacuum-formed aluminium, Arad named the chair in honour of his photographer friend Tom Vack.

The full list of archtiects and designers taking part is: Aecom; AHMM; BDP; CJCT Studios; Coffey Architects; El Ultimo Grito Studio; Emulsion Architecture; Farrells Ltd; GMW Architects; Hawkins Brown; HLW International; Jump Studios; Make Architects; MCM Architecture; M Moser Associates; Morag Myerscough; Morey Smith; (re)design; Scott Brownrigg; ID:SR; Studio TILT; TP Bennett; TTSP; and Woods Bagot.

Clerkenwell Design Week will also host a Studio Weave-designed pavilion that pays homage to the area’s craftsmen of days gone by and an installation at St John’s Gate designed by Russ & Henshaw for Turkishceramics.  



Readers' comments (2)

  • Austin Clegg

    Ron Arad, well there's a blast from the past, whatever happened to him? He was the Thomas Heatherwick of his day: a 'boy wonder', a 'genius' with well oiled connections who had all the journalists eating out of the palm ofhis hand.
    If this chair is so good, why does it need to be redesigned by a host of trendy architects? It was hardly original at the time and it could hardly be desribed as influential.
    It sounds like the unquestioning adulation continues- according to this report this is not a mere chair, it is a 'stacking sculpture'. That's what genius does for you.

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  • Quite so. This 'design' exercise seems entirely vacuous.
    How appropriate.
    Speaking of design - Vitra mainly hawks a moulded polypropylene version of the chair, which replicates the shape of the vacuum formed aluminium original - Completely undermining the relationship of form, material and production method that was the essence of the design.
    The idea of creating a host of derivative designs, 'inspired' by the original, when Arad has already done so himself makes this sound like a fool's errand.
    But hey, if this event gets bums on seats...

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