With this rare New Orleans armchair, Ron Arad yet again transcends categories, poised to give a swing to the bidding.
Ron Arad (b. 1951), New Orleans Armchair made in 1999 for the Gallery Mourmans, pigmented polyester, gel-coated fiberglass, 94 x 133 x 84 cm/37 x 52.4 x 33 in.
In 1999, the Gallery Mourmans commissioned an armchair from Ron Arad for its participation in the TEFAF in Maastricht. The gallery chose a version of the New Orleans model, which was in fact a variation of the famous 1986 Well-Tempered Chair, itself a free reinterpretation of the iconic club chair. (Are you keeping up?) By the end of the 20th century, the Anglo-Israeli had firmly established his inimitable style, dominated by curves and a liberated, daredevil approach to design that now had the feel of art—a subtle dividing line.
With his first studio, One Off Ltd, founded in 1981 with Caroline Thormann, success was quick to follow. Arad says he has little interest in mass production and considers each of his creations a unique object with no utilitarian aims. But he works for the industry nonetheless by collaborating with major editors, again handling this contradiction effortlessly. After all, he has defined himself chiefly as an innovative, daring visual artist who claims the right to "no discipline". This is illustrated by the Well-Tempered Chair: made of riveted steel plates, it has been produced in several variations on the club chair in a wide range of contemporary materials involving innovative manufacturing processes.
Manipulation, transformation and experimentation are his three mantras, all demonstrating that volume—a simple form—can be expressed by revisited manufacturing processes without altering the principles of design. This piece—sculpture or furniture—was a huge success with critics and collectors alike, all eager to get hold of it. Arad succeeded brilliantly in his gamble, appealing to lovers of both design and contemporary art. In 1999, he continued the metamorphosis and, after the Big Easy of 1988, the New Orleans chair with its bizarre, dissociated forms made its appearance. Pigmented resin is added in layers to the initial fiberglass form, further disorienting anyone who expects to see a seat.
This big chair has a little bonus: its spectacular play on translucent hand-painted colors, which makes each of the 18 pieces in this edition (two series of 9) a one-of-a-kind item. Here the architect-designer has chosen shades of blue, red and yellow, streaked with dribbles and splashes similar to dripping. The boundaries between art and design disappear. The owners of one of these pieces feel they belong to a very select club. Who will be the next to join?