Ron Arad: Some Sort of Discipline

A look at the Israeli-born designer’s retrospective at the MoMA

Photos: Jason Mandella/courtesy MoMA

On first hearing the title of Ron Arad’s new MoMA retrospective, Ron Arad: No Discipline, I was reminded of the mid-1990’s craze for T-shirts with the slogans “No Fear” and “No Rules” emblazoned across the front. And so it seemed appropriate that when I spotted Arad opening night, he was wearing a novelty tee of his own–this one screened with an Ed Ruscha piece that reads, “I Don’t Want No Retro Spective.”

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If this was Arad trying to look rebellious–or just modest?–it’s probably too late. With the exhibition (which was first shown at the Centre Pompidou last year), not to mention a collectable figurine in his likeness, Arad’s establishment status seems secure. Besides, his work is anything but reserved. At MoMA, an enormous Cor-Ten “Cage sans Frontiers” snakes along the sixth floor, displaying three decades of Arad designs (chairs, architectural models, lights, and more) in mirrored cubbies. A pamphlet describes the show as a celebration of Arad’s “interdisciplinary and ‘no-disciplinary’ spirit,” but the abundance of curvy, parabolic designs suggests less an interest in breaking down barriers than a healthy fear of ever being no frills.

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