Ron Arad Associates
Ron Arad Associates has been working hard. Along with reissues of the New Orleans chair and new systems for Moroso, the group’s main project during the Milan Fair is Not made by hand/ not made in China, an exhibition of vases and lights created from “virtual prototypes”.
“It’s a rapid prototyping system,” explains Caroline Thorman at RAA. Used in fields such as car design, it allows a fast prototyping of parts. Rapid prototyping is a computer system in which a bespoke computer file is read by a select laser synthesiser and transformed into a 3D prototype. The vases and lights produced with this system are either in polyamide, a material with a chalky cuttlefish quality, or in resin. “The beauty is that instead of a prototype made by a model maker which is never entirely accurate, with this system you can create a perfect prototype in one or two days,” says Thorman.
The rapid prototyping range comprises, at present, some 12 items based around a spiral design. Each 3D image on screen can be animated by being literally bounced around, stretching the image into various shapes as it happens. Those frames are then frozen and the shape at the time becomes the template. A bouncing vase is deconstructed in its different phases of movement while a stretching lamp assumes intriguing shapes. Any frame of the objects can be built by the SLS machine, so potentially you can obtain an infinite number of variations. When lit up, a chrysalis-shaped lamp assumes a translucent quality, made more magical by the knowledge that it is “untouched by humans”, says Thorman.
Once Milan is finished, the next challenge for Ron Arad will be the translation of these exquisite objects into something more mass market. Since this highly refined creation process is technologically advanced, the range does not come cheap. At the moment, a democratic option being considered is to use the process to create jewellery, so anyone could be wearing a piece by Arad around their neck. Finding a cheaper material in the near future could bring this visionary experimentation into production.