It was opening night for the Milan Furniture Fair once again, and I was invited to Ron Arad’s show, which saw a new range of furniture by the designer in collaboration with DuPont’s Corian.
Corian was everywhere – this most un-ecological material has been pushed at every design event I have ever been to. But where were the principles? Where were the environmental considerations that should, or rather need, to be exercised by Arad, who is a leader in design? Can success in design only be achieved if you are devoid of any ethics?
At these events, manufacturers offer their materials for free to designers, who see it simply as their ticket for a free exhibition.
Arad had carved chairs out of Corian and, to his credit, they were beautiful in form. Poor in function, but definitely beautiful in form. The design had an artistic feel – perhaps it warranted being cast in bronze and displayed in Tate Modern as a fine sculpture. And what an honest gift this would have been from Arad to the world.
But instead, these forms were industrially produced out of a solid block of this material, resulting in about 80 per cent waste. It was a most inefficient use of a very costly material. What right does a person have to inflict their ‘art’ on the world at such a high environmental cost?
What’s more, for £60 000 per chair, could the audience at Milan not see what they were buying into or what they were celebrating?
Would they have been as ignorant if another name had adorned this work?