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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Professor Brian Cox and his Wonders of the Solar System.

As this BBC2 series presented by Professor Brian Cox comes to an end, I ponder why this heart throb is so important to society. With collaborative illustrations by Abigail Daker and Lesley Barnes.

Written by Amelia Gregory

Ron Arad chair model
Ron Arad reflective chair
All photography by Amelia Gregory unless otherwise stated.

Once upon a time I assisted a well known stylist on a shoot with Ron Arad. We went to his vast warehouse studios in Camden to take the photo for a magazine, more about and my abiding memory is of the courtyard in front, remedy which was littered with the carcasses of old chairs.

Ron does chairs. This is a man who seriously, seriously loves something to sit on, so it comes as no surprise to find that the entire upper gallery of this Barbican exhibition is devoted to his many chair designs.

Ron Arad typewriter chair
Fun with a rusty old typewriter as seat pad.

Ron Arad Rover Chair
The Rover Chair. Image courtesy of the Barbican.

Ron Arad steel rover chair
The gleaming metal version in pride of place.

Here we can trace the journey of Ron’s love from the early days – when he casually tossed aside a career in architecture to pursue dreams of product design – up until the present. At first he took a higgeldy piggeldy approach to their construction: the first chair that made him famous was one constructed from the leather car seat of a Rover. In one room we discover how he adapted and changed this original concept to come up with many versions before culminating in the final denouement: a sleek recliner in gleaming steel proudly showcased in front of a digital LED screen. For why stop at just one product when you’re onto a winner? Herein lies the essence of Ron’s career – straddling the creation of one off works of art and mainstream manufacturing with gleeful abandon.

Ron Arad Tom Vac
Image courtesy of the Barbican. This was popular in trendy restaurants.

Ron Arad big chair
Ron Arad rocking chairs
Ron Arad. Well Transparent Chair
Image courtesy of the Barbican.

So what defines a Ron Arad work? Aesthetically he has messed around with all sorts of materials, especially in the early years, but if I had to pin it down to a couple of things, I would say he is principally concerned with bulk and sheen. Rotund forms bulge ominously towards the ceilings and floors of the small upper galleries, suggesting the swallowing of any daring seatee. Delicate this ain’t. Comfortable? Maybe, but we aren’t allowed to try. I particularly love a smooth red and white plastic chair, glowing like a giant boiled sweet. But I think I want to lick it rather than sit on it. Is this the reaction one should have to a chair? Semi-phallic pieces appear more sculptural than useful. Shiny metal surfaces reflect the gallery-goers like distorted mirrors, and automated rockers set the chairs in perpetual motion as directional lighting throws dramatic shadows against the encroaching walls.

Ron Arad red white chair
Ron Arad London Papardelle
Ron Arad sculptures

If we aren’t allowed to sit in the chairs upstairs there is much fun to be had stretching out on the various seating arrangements that populate the large open downstairs gallery. Particularly with my austostitch app in hand. On the walls there are bookshelves – his famous curved Bookworm, an impressive patchwork map of America and a giant bookshelf wheel that maintains an impressively upright angle as it regularly slips down a long slope. Some of the most interesting items are the models that Ron has sent out for mass production, complete with scribbled markings.

Ron Arad blue chairs
Ron Arad chairs
Ron Arad America bookcase
Ron Arad wheel bookshelf

In side rooms we discover Ron’s other projects, including some experimental lighting that plays with the direction of beams so that GOD reads WAR, and a giant disco ball. But it is in his recent return to architecture that Ron really goes to town, even if not much seems to have actually been built other than in Israel, country of his birth. The rest seems to be little more than extreme flights of fancy, huge brutalist monstrosities designed to house his chairs but destined to forever remain toy models.

Ron Arad War- God light
Ron Arad architecture
His architectural models left me cold. I mean, I love a bit of brutalism, but there’s a time and a place. Architecture now needs to take into account the environment.

The exhibition left me pondering when the time is right to have a retrospective. When is the work of an artist deemed of high enough calibre? Until recently Ron Arad was head of product design at the RCA and he is still very much an active designer today. This in itself makes for an interesting take, but does he deserve such a major retrospective? I’m not convinced. At times it felt to me very much like this was the work of a one (or two or three) trick pony. Who likes very much to sit down.

Ron Arad: Restless is on until the 16th of May at the Barbican Art Gallery.
Ron Arad reflective chair
All photography by Amelia Gregory unless otherwise stated.

Once upon a time I assisted a well known stylist on a shoot with Ron Arad. We went to his vast warehouse studios in Camden to take the photo for a magazine, treatment and my abiding memory is of the courtyard in front, which was littered with the carcasses of old chairs.

Ron does chairs. This is a man who seriously, seriously loves something to sit on, so it comes as no surprise to find that the entire upper gallery of this Barbican exhibition is devoted to his many chair designs.

Ron Arad typewriter chair
Fun with a rusty old typewriter as seat pad.

Ron Arad Rover Chair
The Rover Chair. Image courtesy of the Barbican.

Ron Arad steel rover chair
The gleaming metal version in pride of place.

Here we can trace the journey of Ron’s love from the early days – when he casually tossed aside a career in architecture to pursue dreams of product design – up until the present. At first he took a higgeldy piggeldy approach to their construction: the first chair that made him famous was one constructed from the leather car seat of a Rover. In one room we discover how he adapted and changed this original concept to come up with many versions before culminating in the final denouement: a sleek recliner in gleaming steel proudly showcased in front of a digital LED screen. For why stop at just one product when you’re onto a winner? Herein lies the essence of Ron’s career – straddling the creation of one off works of art and mainstream manufacturing with gleeful abandon.

Ron Arad Tom Vac
Image courtesy of the Barbican. This was popular in trendy restaurants.

Ron Arad big chair
Ron Arad rocking chairs
Ron Arad. Well Transparent Chair
Image courtesy of the Barbican.

So what defines a Ron Arad work? Aesthetically he has messed around with all sorts of materials, especially in the early years, but if I had to pin it down to a couple of things, I would say he is principally concerned with bulk and sheen. Rotund forms bulge ominously towards the ceilings and floors of the small upper galleries, suggesting the swallowing of any daring seatee. Delicate this ain’t. Comfortable? Maybe, but we aren’t allowed to try. I particularly love a smooth red and white plastic chair, glowing like a giant boiled sweet. But I think I want to lick it rather than sit on it. Is this the reaction one should have to a chair? Semi-phallic pieces appear more sculptural than useful. Shiny metal surfaces reflect the gallery-goers like distorted mirrors, and automated rockers set the chairs in perpetual motion as directional lighting throws dramatic shadows against the encroaching walls.

Ron Arad red white chair
Ron Arad London Papardelle
Ron Arad sculptures

If we aren’t allowed to sit in the chairs upstairs there is much fun to be had stretching out on the various seating arrangements that populate the large open downstairs gallery. Particularly with my austostitch app in hand. On the walls there are bookshelves – his famous curved Bookworm, an impressive patchwork map of America and a giant bookshelf wheel that maintains an impressively upright angle as it regularly slips down a long slope. Some of the most interesting items are the models that Ron has sent out for mass production, complete with scribbled markings.

Ron Arad blue chairs
Ron Arad chairs
Ron Arad America bookcase
Ron Arad wheel bookshelf
Ron Arad chair model

In side rooms we discover Ron’s other projects, including some experimental lighting that plays with the direction of beams so that GOD reads WAR, and a giant disco ball. But it is in his recent return to architecture that Ron really goes to town, even if not much seems to have actually been built other than in Israel, country of his birth. The rest represents little more than extreme flights of fancy, huge brutalist monstrosities designed to house his chairs but destined to forever remain toy models.

Ron Arad War- God light
Ron Arad architecture
His architectural models left me cold. I mean, I love a bit of brutalism, but there’s a time and a place. Architecture now needs to take into account the environment.

The exhibition left me pondering when the time is right to have a retrospective. When is the work of an artist deemed of high enough calibre? Until recently Ron Arad was head of product design at the RCA and he is still very much an active designer today. This in itself makes for an interesting angle, but does he deserve such a major retrospective? I’m not convinced. At times it felt to me very much like this was the work of a one (or two or three) trick pony. Who, despite the title, likes very much to sit down.

Ron Arad: Restless is on until the 16th of May at the Barbican Art Gallery.
Ron Arad reflective chair
All photography by Amelia Gregory unless otherwise stated.

Once upon a time I assisted a well known stylist on a shoot with Ron Arad. We went to his vast warehouse studios in Camden to take the photo for a magazine, viagra and my abiding memory is of the courtyard in front, case which was littered with the carcasses of old chairs.

Ron does chairs. This is a man who seriously, seriously loves something to sit on, so it comes as no surprise to find that the entire upper gallery of this Barbican exhibition is devoted to his many chair designs.

Ron Arad typewriter chair
Fun with a rusty old typewriter as seat pad.

Ron Arad Rover Chair
The Rover Chair. Image courtesy of the Barbican.

Ron Arad steel rover chair
The gleaming metal version in pride of place.

Here we can trace the journey of Ron’s love from the early days – when he casually tossed aside a career in architecture to pursue dreams of product design – up until the present. At first he took a higgeldy piggeldy approach to their construction: the first chair that made him famous was one constructed from the leather car seat of a Rover. In one room we discover how he adapted and changed this original concept to come up with many versions before culminating in the final denouement: a sleek recliner in gleaming steel proudly showcased in front of a digital LED screen. For why stop at just one product when you’re onto a winner? Herein lies the essence of Ron’s career – straddling the creation of one off works of art and mainstream manufacturing with gleeful abandon.

Ron Arad Tom Vac
Image courtesy of the Barbican. This was popular in trendy restaurants.

Ron Arad big chair
Ron Arad rocking chairs
Ron Arad. Well Transparent Chair
Image courtesy of the Barbican.

So what defines a Ron Arad work? Aesthetically he has messed around with all sorts of materials, especially in the early years, but if I had to pin it down to a couple of things, I would say he is principally concerned with bulk and sheen. Rotund forms bulge ominously towards the ceilings and floors of the small upper galleries, suggesting the swallowing of any daring seatee. Delicate this ain’t. Comfortable? Maybe, but we aren’t allowed to try. I particularly love a smooth red and white plastic chair, glowing like a giant boiled sweet. But I think I want to lick it rather than sit on it. Is this the reaction one should have to a chair? Semi-phallic pieces appear more sculptural than useful. Shiny metal surfaces reflect the gallery-goers like distorted mirrors, and automated rockers set the chairs in perpetual motion as directional lighting throws dramatic shadows against the encroaching walls.

Ron Arad red white chair
Ron Arad London Papardelle
Ron Arad sculptures

If we aren’t allowed to sit in the chairs upstairs there is much fun to be had stretching out on the various seating arrangements that populate the large open downstairs gallery. Particularly with my austostitch app in hand. On the walls there are bookshelves – his famous curved Bookworm, an impressive patchwork map of America and a giant bookshelf wheel that maintains an impressively upright angle as it regularly slips down a long slope. Some of the most interesting items are the models that Ron has sent out for mass production, complete with scribbled markings.

Ron Arad blue chairs
Ron Arad chairs
Ron Arad America bookcase
Ron Arad wheel bookshelf
Ron Arad chair model

In side rooms we discover Ron’s other projects, including some experimental lighting that plays with the direction of beams so that GOD reads WAR, and a giant disco ball. But it is in his recent return to architecture that Ron really goes to town, even if not much seems to have actually been built other than in Israel, country of his birth. The rest represents little more than extreme flights of fancy, huge brutalist monstrosities designed to house his chairs but destined to forever remain toy models.

Ron Arad War- God light
Ron Arad architecture
His architectural models left me cold. I mean, I love a bit of brutalism, but there’s a time and a place. Architecture now needs to take into account the environment.

The exhibition left me pondering when the time is right to have a retrospective. When is the work of an artist deemed of high enough calibre? Until recently Ron Arad was head of product design at the RCA and he is still very much an active designer today. This in itself makes for an interesting angle, but does he deserve such a major retrospective? I’m not convinced. At times it felt to me very much like this was the work of a one (or two or three) trick pony. Who, despite the title, likes very much to sit down.

Ron Arad: Restless is on until the 16th of May at the Barbican Art Gallery.
Ron Arad reflective chair
All photography by Amelia Gregory unless otherwise stated.

Once upon a time I assisted a well known stylist on a shoot with Ron Arad. We went to his vast warehouse studios in Camden to take the photo for a magazine, physician and my abiding memory is of the courtyard in front, which was littered with the carcasses of old chairs.

Ron does chairs. This is a man who seriously, seriously loves something to sit on, so it comes as no surprise to find that the entire upper gallery of this Barbican exhibition is devoted to his many chair designs.

Ron Arad typewriter chair
Fun with a rusty old typewriter as seat pad.

Ron Arad Rover Chair
The Rover Chair. Image courtesy of the Barbican.

Ron Arad steel rover chair
The gleaming metal version in pride of place.

Here we can trace the journey of Ron’s love from the early days – when he casually tossed aside a career in architecture to pursue dreams of product design – up until the present. At first he took a higgeldy piggeldy approach to their construction: the first chair that made him famous was one constructed from the leather car seat of a Rover. In one room we discover how he adapted and changed this original concept to come up with many versions before culminating in the final denouement: a sleek recliner in gleaming steel proudly showcased in front of a digital LED screen. For why stop at just one product when you’re onto a winner? Herein lies the essence of Ron’s career – straddling the creation of one off works of art and mainstream manufacturing with gleeful abandon.

Ron Arad Tom Vac
Image courtesy of the Barbican. This was popular in trendy restaurants.

Ron Arad big chair
Ron Arad rocking chairs
Ron Arad. Well Transparent Chair
Image courtesy of the Barbican.

So what defines a Ron Arad work? Aesthetically he has messed around with all sorts of materials, especially in the early years, but if I had to pin it down to a couple of things, I would say he is principally concerned with bulk and sheen. Rotund forms bulge ominously towards the ceilings and floors of the small upper galleries, suggesting the swallowing of any daring seatee. Delicate this ain’t. Comfortable? Maybe, but we aren’t allowed to try. I particularly love a smooth red and white plastic chair, glowing like a giant boiled sweet. But I think I want to lick it rather than sit on it. Is this the reaction one should have to a chair? Semi-phallic pieces appear more sculptural than useful. Shiny metal surfaces reflect the gallery-goers like distorted mirrors, and automated rockers set the chairs in perpetual motion as directional lighting throws dramatic shadows against the encroaching walls.

Ron Arad red white chair
Ron Arad London Papardelle
Ron Arad sculptures

If we aren’t allowed to sit in the chairs upstairs there is much fun to be had stretching out on the various seating arrangements that populate the large open downstairs gallery. Particularly with my austostitch app in hand. On the walls there are bookshelves – his famous curved Bookworm, an impressive patchwork map of America and a giant bookshelf wheel that maintains an impressively upright angle as it regularly slips down a long slope. Some of the most interesting items are the models that Ron has sent out for mass production, complete with scribbled markings.

Ron Arad blue chairs
Ron Arad chairs
Ron Arad America bookcase
Ron Arad wheel bookshelf
Ron Arad chair model

In side rooms we discover Ron’s other projects, including some experimental lighting that plays with the direction of beams so that GOD reads WAR, and a giant disco ball. But it is in his recent return to architecture that Ron really goes to town, even if not much seems to have actually been built other than in Israel, country of his birth. The rest represents little more than extreme flights of fancy, huge brutalist monstrosities designed to house his chairs but destined to forever remain toy models.

Ron Arad War- God light
Ron Arad architecture
His architectural models left me cold. I mean, I love a bit of brutalism, but there’s a time and a place. Architecture now needs to take into account the environment.

The exhibition left me pondering when the time is right to have a retrospective. When is the work of an artist deemed of high enough calibre? Until recently Ron Arad was head of product design at the RCA and he is still very much an active designer today. This in itself makes for an interesting angle, but does he deserve such a major retrospective? I’m not convinced. At times it felt to me very much like this was the work of a one (or two or three) trick pony. Who, despite the title, likes very much to sit down.

Ron Arad: Restless is on until the 16th of May at the Barbican Art Gallery.
Ron Arad reflective chair
All photography by Amelia Gregory unless otherwise stated.

Once upon a time I assisted a well known stylist on a shoot with Ron Arad. We went to his vast warehouse studios in Camden to take the photo for a magazine, cheap and my abiding memory is of the courtyard in front, which was littered with the carcasses of old chairs.

Ron does chairs. This is a man who seriously, seriously loves something to sit on, so it comes as no surprise to find that the entire upper gallery of this Barbican exhibition is devoted to his many chair designs.

Ron Arad typewriter chair
Fun with a rusty old typewriter as seat pad.

Ron Arad Rover Chair
The Rover Chair. Image courtesy of the Barbican.

Ron Arad steel rover chair
The gleaming metal version in pride of place.

Here we can trace the journey of Ron’s love from the early days – when he casually tossed aside a career in architecture to pursue dreams of product design – up until the present. At first he took a higgeldy piggeldy approach to their construction: the first chair that made him famous was one constructed from the leather car seat of a Rover. In one room we discover how he adapted and changed this original concept to come up with many versions before culminating in the final denouement: a sleek recliner in gleaming steel proudly showcased in front of a digital LED screen. For why stop at just one product when you’re onto a winner? Herein lies the essence of Ron’s career – straddling the creation of one off works of art and mainstream manufacturing with gleeful abandon.

Ron Arad Tom Vac
Image courtesy of the Barbican. This was popular in trendy restaurants.

Ron Arad big chair
Ron Arad rocking chairs
Ron Arad. Well Transparent Chair
Image courtesy of the Barbican.

So what defines a Ron Arad work? Aesthetically he has messed around with all sorts of materials, especially in the early years, but if I had to pin it down to a couple of things, I would say he is principally concerned with bulk and sheen. Rotund forms bulge ominously towards the ceilings and floors of the small upper galleries, suggesting the swallowing of any daring seatee. Delicate this ain’t. Comfortable? Maybe, but we aren’t allowed to try. I particularly love a smooth red and white plastic chair, glowing like a giant boiled sweet. But I think I want to lick it rather than sit on it. Is this the reaction one should have to a chair? Semi-phallic pieces appear more sculptural than useful. Shiny metal surfaces reflect the gallery-goers like distorted mirrors, and automated rockers set the chairs in perpetual motion as directional lighting throws dramatic shadows against the encroaching walls.

Ron Arad red white chair
Ron Arad London Papardelle
Ron Arad sculptures

If we aren’t allowed to sit in the chairs upstairs there is much fun to be had stretching out on the various seating arrangements that populate the large open downstairs gallery. Particularly with my austostitch app in hand. On the walls there are bookshelves – his famous curved Bookworm, an impressive patchwork map of America and a giant bookshelf wheel that maintains an impressively upright angle as it regularly slips down a long slope. Some of the most interesting items are the models that Ron has sent out for mass production, complete with scribbled markings.

Ron Arad blue chairs
Ron Arad chairs
Ron Arad America bookcase
Ron Arad wheel bookshelf
Ron Arad chair model

In side rooms we discover Ron’s other projects, including some experimental lighting that plays with the direction of beams so that GOD reads WAR, and a giant disco ball. But it is in his recent return to architecture that Ron really goes to town, even if not much seems to have actually been built other than in Israel, country of his birth. The rest represents little more than extreme flights of fancy, huge brutalist monstrosities designed to house his chairs but destined to forever remain toy models.

Ron Arad War- God light
Ron Arad architecture
His architectural models left me cold. I mean, I love a bit of brutalism, but there’s a time and a place. Architecture now needs to take into account the environment.

The exhibition left me pondering when the time is right to have a retrospective. When is the work of an artist deemed of high enough calibre? Until recently Ron Arad was head of product design at the RCA and he is still very much an active designer today. This in itself makes for an interesting angle, but does he deserve such a major retrospective? I’m not convinced. At times it felt to me very much like this was the work of a one (or two or three) trick pony. Who, despite the title, likes very much to sit down.

Ron Arad: Restless is on until the 16th of May at the Barbican Art Gallery.
Ron Arad reflective chair
All photography by Amelia Gregory unless otherwise stated.

Once upon a time I assisted a well known stylist on a shoot with Ron Arad. We went to his vast warehouse studios in Camden to take the photo for a magazine, drugs and my abiding memory is of the courtyard in front, which was littered with the carcasses of old chairs.

Ron does chairs. This is a man who seriously, seriously loves something to sit on, so it comes as no surprise to find that the entire upper gallery of this Barbican exhibition is devoted to his many chair designs.

Ron Arad typewriter chair
Fun with a rusty old typewriter as seat pad.

Ron Arad Rover Chair
The Rover Chair. Image courtesy of the Barbican.

Ron Arad steel rover chair
The gleaming metal version in pride of place.

Here we can trace the journey of Ron’s love from the early days – when he casually tossed aside a career in architecture to pursue dreams of product design – up until the present. At first he took a higgeldy piggeldy approach to their construction: the chair that made him famous was one constructed from the leather car seat of a Rover. In one room we discover how he adapted and changed this original concept before culminating in the final denouement: a sleek recliner in gleaming steel proudly showcased in front of a digital LED screen. For why stop at just one product when you’re onto a winner? Herein lies the essence of Ron’s career – straddling the creation of one off works of art and mainstream manufacturing with gleeful abandon.

Ron Arad Tom Vac
Image courtesy of the Barbican. This was popular in trendy restaurants.

Ron Arad big chair
Ron Arad rocking chairs
Ron Arad. Well Transparent Chair
Image courtesy of the Barbican.

So what defines a Ron Arad work? Aesthetically he has messed around with all sorts of materials, especially in the early years, but if I had to pin it down to a couple of things, I would say he is principally concerned with bulk and sheen. Rotund forms bulge ominously towards the ceilings and floors of the small upper galleries, suggesting the swallowing of any daring seatee. Delicate this ain’t. Comfortable? Maybe, but we aren’t allowed to try. I particularly love a smooth red and white plastic chair, glowing like a giant boiled sweet. But I think I want to lick it rather than sit on it. Is this the reaction one should have to a chair? Semi-phallic pieces appear more sculptural than useful. Shiny metal surfaces reflect the gallery-goers like distorted mirrors, and automated rockers set the chairs in perpetual motion as directional lighting throws dramatic shadows against the encroaching walls.

Ron Arad red white chair
Ron Arad London Papardelle
Ron Arad sculptures

If we aren’t allowed to sit in the chairs upstairs there is much fun to be had stretching out on the various seating arrangements that populate the large open downstairs gallery. Particularly with my austostitch app in hand. On the walls there are bookshelves – his famous curved Bookworm, an impressive patchwork map of America and a giant bookshelf wheel that maintains an impressively upright angle as it regularly slips down a long slope. Some of the most interesting items are the models that Ron has sent out for mass production, complete with scribbled markings.

Ron Arad blue chairs
Ron Arad chairs
Ron Arad America bookcase
Ron Arad wheel bookshelf
Ron Arad chair model

In side rooms we discover Ron’s other projects, including some experimental lighting that plays with the direction of beams so that GOD reads WAR, and a giant disco ball. But it is in his recent return to architecture that Ron really goes to town, even if not much seems to have actually been built other than in Israel, country of his birth. The rest represents little more than extreme flights of fancy, huge brutalist monstrosities designed to house his chairs but destined to forever remain toy models.

Ron Arad War- God light
Ron Arad architecture
His architectural models left me cold. I mean, I love a bit of brutalism, but there’s a time and a place. Architecture now needs to take into account the environment.

The exhibition left me pondering when the time is right to have a retrospective. When is the work of an artist deemed of high enough calibre? Until recently Ron Arad was head of product design at the RCA and he is still very much an active designer today. This in itself makes for an interesting angle, but does he deserve such a major retrospective? I’m not convinced. At times it felt to me very much like this was the work of a one (or two or three) trick pony. Who, despite the title, likes very much to sit down.

Ron Arad: Restless is on until the 16th of May at the Barbican Art Gallery.
Ron Arad reflective chair
All photography by Amelia Gregory unless otherwise stated.

Once upon a time I assisted a well known stylist on a shoot with Ron Arad. We went to his vast warehouse studios in Camden to take the photo for a magazine, medical and my abiding memory is of the courtyard in front, for sale which was littered with the carcasses of old chairs.

Ron does chairs. This is a man who seriously, seriously loves something to sit on, so it comes as no surprise to find that the entire upper gallery of this Barbican exhibition is devoted to his many chair designs.

Ron Arad typewriter chair
Fun with a rusty old typewriter as seat pad.

Ron Arad Rover Chair
The Rover Chair. Image courtesy of the Barbican.

Ron Arad steel rover chair
The gleaming metal version in pride of place.

Here we can trace the journey of Ron’s love from the early days – when he casually tossed aside a career in architecture to pursue dreams of product design – up until the present. At first he took a higgeldy piggeldy approach to their construction: the chair that made him famous was one constructed from the leather car seat of a Rover. In one room we discover how he adapted and changed this original concept before culminating in the final denouement: a sleek recliner in gleaming steel proudly showcased in front of a digital LED screen. For why stop at just one product when you’re onto a winner? Herein lies the essence of Ron’s career – straddling the creation of one off works of art and mainstream manufacturing with gleeful abandon.

Ron Arad Tom Vac
Image courtesy of the Barbican. This was popular in trendy restaurants.

Ron Arad big chair
Ron Arad rocking chairs
Ron Arad. Well Transparent Chair
Image courtesy of the Barbican.

So what defines a Ron Arad work? Aesthetically he has messed around with all sorts of materials, especially in the early years, but if I had to pin it down to a couple of things, I would say he is principally concerned with bulk and sheen. Rotund forms bulge ominously towards the ceilings and floors of the small upper galleries, suggesting the swallowing of any daring seatee. Delicate this ain’t. Comfortable? Maybe, but we aren’t allowed to try. I particularly love a smooth red and white plastic chair, glowing like a giant boiled sweet. But I think I want to lick it rather than sit on it. Is this the reaction one should have to a chair? Semi-phallic pieces appear more sculptural than useful. Shiny metal surfaces reflect the gallery-goers like distorted mirrors, and automated rockers set the chairs in perpetual motion as directional lighting throws dramatic shadows against the encroaching walls.

Ron Arad red white chair
Ron Arad London Papardelle
Ron Arad sculptures

If we aren’t allowed to sit in the chairs upstairs there is much fun to be had stretching out on the various seating arrangements that populate the large open downstairs gallery. Particularly with my austostitch app in hand. On the walls there are bookshelves – his famous curved Bookworm, an impressive patchwork map of America and a giant bookshelf wheel that maintains an impressively upright angle as it regularly slips down a long slope. Some of the most interesting items are the models that Ron has sent out for mass production, complete with scribbled markings.

Ron Arad blue chairs
Ron Arad chairs
Ron Arad America bookcase
Ron Arad wheel bookshelf
Ron Arad chair model

In side rooms we discover Ron’s other projects, including some experimental lighting that plays with the direction of beams so that GOD reads WAR, and a giant disco ball. But it is in his recent return to architecture that Ron really goes to town, even if not much seems to have actually been built other than in Israel, country of his birth. The rest represents little more than extreme flights of fancy, huge brutalist monstrosities designed to house his chairs but destined to forever remain toy models.

Ron Arad War- God light
Ron Arad architecture
His architectural models left me cold. I mean, I love a bit of brutalism, but there’s a time and a place. Architecture now needs to take into account the environment.

The exhibition left me pondering when the time is right to have a retrospective. When is the work of an artist deemed of high enough calibre? Until recently Ron Arad was head of product design at the RCA and he is still very much an active designer today. This in itself makes for an interesting angle, but does he deserve such a major retrospective? I’m not convinced. At times it felt to me very much like this was the work of a one (or two or three) trick pony. Who, despite the title, likes very much to sit down.

Ron Arad: Restless is on until the 16th of May at the Barbican Art Gallery.
Professor Brian Cox - Wonders of Solar System
Illustration by Abigail Daker and Lesley Barnes.

This week I discovered the multifarious joys of Professor Brian Cox. I know I know, cialis 40mg I’m a bit late with this one. But I don’t watch TV so I had to find the time and space to watch iPlayer – a tough call around these busy parts.

And find that time I did, dosage over the course of less than 24 hours. Yes siree, dosage I watched the 5 episodes of the BBC series Wonders of the Solar System more or less back to back, stopping only to catch up on a bit of the old shut eye. I’d heard the hype of course, and I’d read all about his previous pop-tastic career supporting our wonderful Labour government get into power with that infamous D:REAM anthem of the 1997 elections (love the prescient Heironymous Bosch backdrop to the video) Way back in the mists of time when I too thought that Tony Blair was saviour of the world I remember celebrating by dancing on the tables in a pub somewhere in North London until I threw up in the gutter. Woops. The ONLY time, I hasten to add, that I have ever done that, throughout a long and illustrious drinking career. Such was my excitement the day that Labour got in. Moving swiftly onwards…

So, what is it about the Cox that kept me glued to the screen? Well, cute science geeks have often turned my head, and Coxie’s boyish enthusiasm cannot help but rub off on even the most uninterested of parties, no matter how many times he *impulsively* uses the salt and pepper/rocks in a desert/lumps of whatever comes to hand with no planning whatsoever to demonstrate some law of the planets, you’ve got to love that sparkle in his eyes. And the way he smiles! Constantly smiles! There is nothing sexier.

But what is it about this series that is so very inspiring, apart from, obviously the presence of a very attractive floppy-haired boffin? Of course it’s not just Brian Cox that drew me into the Wonders of the Solar System series: it’s my fascination with new discoveries, and the marvel of life. Over the course of fiver hours I learnt that Jupiter’s moon Io is spewing fire, that there are beasties which live in ice as if it’s fluid which means there may be beasties living on Jupiter’s frozen moon Europa. Given the presence of gypsum salts even Mars could harbour life. This and so much more was revealed over the course of the superbly paced programmes. Even The Sun was enamoured of the series.

Professor Brian Cox - Wonders of Solar System
Illustration by Abigail Daker and Lesley Barnes.

Why are popularist programmes that reach out like this so important? Because they familiarise more of us with the wonders of the universe – and with the preciousness of our own planet, the “Goldilocks” world where conditions have evolved in just such a way that life is possible for such a wondrous array of species today. Not once does Brian Cox mention climate change, but I suspect this is deliberate. I’ve since watched an interview with him which makes his position clear – he is no denialist, thank god. (No sensible and educated scientist is.)

Maybe he thinks a bit like me: revel in the wonder of nature and life, and hope that the right conclusions will be drawn. I defy anyone to watch these programmes and not consider how lucky we are, how fragile our life is, how easily we could throw it all away. I hear rumours that Brian will be making another series though he is determined to carry on his role as professor at Manchester University (dontcha just love his commitment. I bet admissions applications have sky-rocketed for his courses.)

I wonder if he will tackle climate change. And if he doesn’t I can’t wait to see what he does do, because it’s bound not only to inspire far beyond the usual reach of scientific journalism, but it’s also likely to get more people into the scientific professions which is something we desperately need. A man who shows that the fleeting success of pop fame is nothing compared with the joy of physics: Brian Cox, you are a true icon for this age.

For now you have until Sunday 11th April to catch up with the professor on BBC iPlayer – I suggest you get in there straight away. There’s no time to waste!
You can also follow Brian Cox on twitter here.

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15 Responses to “Professor Brian Cox and his Wonders of the Solar System.”

  1. kennie says:

    i adore brian cox! i only recently discovered him myself, but i’ve a good excuse because i’m american and newish to the uk. my husband and his family are all aware of my crush on the professor and often tease me about it when he’s mentioned.

    to be honest, i need to watch it again in its entirety. the pub quiz i went to last night had a couple questions based on things i know professor cox discussed in his programme, but still i managed to get them wrong. i think i might have paid to much attention to the presenter of the programme and not enough to the subject matter!

  2. [...] illustrations to the left were created along with Lesley Barnes to accompany an article about Professor Brian Cox, physicist and former keyboard player in [...]

  3. Thereza says:

    grrreat!
    both the article and those two a c e illustrators!!!!

  4. Amelia says:

    I think I’ve touched a real nerve here! Glad you enjoyed the article and thankyou for posting your thoughts, Amelia x

  5. Sophia says:

    I do love Prof Brian Cox! I first came across him late last year when he did a lightening quick lecture for the ‘nine lessons and carols for godless people’.

    One of the things religious people often fail to understand about atheism is that you don’t need to believe in the supernatural to have a sense of awe and wonder, beauty and majesty. Brian Cox’s lecture whizzes through loads of wonderful things about the universe in a very understandable, enthusiastic and engaging way (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2D8P_1z9GhY&feature=PlayList&p=175B96067C95C639&playnext_from=PL&index=0&playnext=1)

  6. grthink says:

    This is my favourite Prof Cox moment so far:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3zBqRLK_ESs
    I love how angry he gets… angry enough to lose the ability to speak.

    And during Wonders… I too loved his drawing on the ground/moving pepper pots analogies. My favourite was probably when he just happened to find two volcanic rocks lying next to eachother which were at the exact right proportions for what he wanted to demonstrate (I instantly saw every member of the camera crew scurrying around picking up rocks of different sizes for his perusal just prior tto rolling tape).

    He’s an inspiring man — for his enthusiasm and willingness to share if nothing else.

    And looks very young for his age, too. And yes, my wife fancies him.

  7. Amelia says:

    Haha, love that video. I’ve always been quite intrigued by the Mayan prophecies, so it’s interesting to hear his explanation of them. I’m glad it’s not just women who love his enthusiasm too!

  8. Amelia says:

    Hi Sophia, thanks for posting that link – I think it’s his unbounding enthusiasm in a sea of drabness that really makes him such a winner….

  9. Amelia says:

    Go and watch it Kennie, you’ve only got a few days! though I am sure there must be a book to go along with the series…

  10. Fiona says:

    The enthusiasm of a puppy in one grown man

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fhn8j7S4uKU

  11. Fiona says:

    The enthusiasm of a puppy in one grown man!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fhn8j7S4uKU

  12. [...] I added earlier. The cassette tapes were something I drew yesterday, they were to be added to an illustration of Professor Brian Cox which was a collaborative piece between myself and Lesley Barnes. They weren’t needed in the [...]

  13. Amelia says:

    couldn’t agree more fiona! x

  14. Hannah says:

    Dreamy. I do really fancy brian actually. Lovely illustrations for this one too!

  15. Francesca says:

    I LOVE Prof. Brian Cox!! He is seriously such an inspirational man! I just love the way he has such enthusiasm for his subject and the way he can make people listen and intrest them aswell. For anyone who is a fan of Prof. Cox he is doing a few things at Cheltenham Science Festival such as interviews and talks and he is also doing a presentation on his TV series “Wonders of The Universe”

    http://cheltenhamfestivals.com/science-2010/the-infinite-monkey-cage/

    Thats the site where you can look at other science events and buy tickets from but it looks worth going to =]
    Much love
    Francesca
    xxx

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