Why Ron Arad hates architecture

The two unlikely looking characters shown below, in an even unlikelier setting are designer/ architect Ron Arad (on the left in the hat) and artist Richard Wilson, whose latest project is the giant Slipstream sculpture at the newly opened Terminal Two, Heathrow.

The two unlikely looking characters shown below, in an even unlikelier setting are designer/ architect Ron Arad (on the left in the hat) and artist Richard Wilson, whose latest project is the giant Slipstream sculpture at the newly opened Terminal Two, Heathrow.

They were certainly not in their native habitat, as the event was held at the Soho Theatre and they were sitting on the set of a play which obviously took place in a very run-down bar. The event, sponsored by Resolution Property, was part of the Soho Create festival. Arad, in addition to wearing one of his signature hats, insisted on donning a pair of sunglasses against the theatre lights – and took the opportunity for a little product placement. They are of his own design, and have an adjustable bridge, so fitting any width of face.

‘I can’t understand why it hasn’t been done before,’ he said. One thing that has apparently been done before, and by Arad, is the invention of something very like an iPad. This, Arad said, was an idea that he came up with 12 years ago. Of course, anyone can say that, but Arad showed a film he made at the time to demonstrate the idea with a naked blue figure using the touch screen in bed, in the bath and in the garden, accessing text, images and film.

The client he showed it to, Arad said, couldn’t see the point and dismissed the idea. He is not saying that Apple stole his idea but that good ideas can occur in more than one place. And, he says, if he had designed it and it had taken off, it would have changed his life in ways that he would not have liked.

Something else he would not have liked would have been having to make his living solely as an architect. ‘Architecture is a tragic profession,’ he said. It is not the architecture that he hates but the compromises and changes that have to be made – and particularly the competition system. ‘I don’t like architectural competitions,’ he said, ‘because they are judged by other people.’

Arad is so multi-talented that when he was invited to become a Royal Academician he didn’t know in which category he had been appointed until he went to a formal event where he had to wear an RA medal and he turned out to have a blue ribbon – like all the architects. ‘David Chipperfield said to me, “you are not an architect”,’ Arad said. For Chipperfield Arad, despite having designed numerous buildings, is not purist enough to be an architect.

But for the rest of the world he is evidently extremely gifted and entertaining. He may be his own greatest fan, but there are many who are not far behind.

What a nice – and unusual – way to spend a morning.

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