“Ron doesn’t like sofas. He can’t stand them, actually… So one day I said: if no sofas exist that you would want to buy, why don’t you try to design one?” This is how Patrizia Moroso, art director of Moroso, tells about the birth of Victoria&Albert, the collection designed by Ron Arad in 2000, which has been the company’s bestseller for years, after revolutionizing the concept of upholstered furniture, making it into a sculptural object capable of establishing new spatial relations.
Together with Victoria&Albert, other products of the joint creativity of Ron Arad and Moroso have left their mark on the world of contemporary design. To commemorate them, for the 25th anniversary of the collaboration with the Israeli designer, the company is organizing a dual event during Design Week in April in Milan: an exhibition at the showroom on Via Pontaccio, and a show of photographs by Tom Vack on Arad’s work, set up at the he Università degli Studi of Milan as part of the event Open Borders organized by Interni. We asked Patrizia Moroso to trace back through a story permeated with instances of innovation.
YOUR RELATIONSHIP BEGAN IN 1989, WITH THE SPRING COLLECTION. HOW DID THINGS GET STARTED?
Ron was looking for someone to translate the famous Big Easy chair and the steel seats – which he self-produced (and still does) in his studio – in to soft objects. When I met him in London I immediately said I was willing. The result was a collection composed of different elements, where for the first time Arad had to cope with the theme of color, and industrial production. Shortly thereafter other important projects happened with other companies, but Ron made his industrial design debut with Moroso. I’m very proud of that fact.
IS THERE ONE PRODUCT THAT BETTER THAN ALL OTHERS EXPRESSES THE LINK BETWEEN RON ARAD AND MOROSO?
The most famous is perhaps the Victoria&Albert from 2000, a series that disrupted the traditional idea of the sofa made of a seat, a back, armrests and cushions. Ron managed to break up that scheme and to invent a very beautiful form, very innovative also in terms of materials. It is not made with a mold, but through the filling and covering of a resin structure which gives the form to the sofa. This project was a great innovation, and at the same time it achieved remarkable commercial success: two results that do not always coincide.
WHAT OTHER PROJECTS HAVE BEEN IMPORTANT IN TERMS OF INNOVATION?
Misfits and Do-Lo-Rez are two very important products. The first comes from a project in 1993 launched by the English company that produced Waterlily, the first polyurethane foam that reacted to water and not to harmful chemical agents. Ron asked us to work on the creation of a series of seating components made from cubes of polyurethane, one meter on each side. Each module is independent and shaped with different forms, cuts and holes. The combination of the modules is very free, without pre-set matching. A project of pure experimentation, made for the occasion, which we decided to industrialize in 2007, when water-based foam made it possible to work with molds. Nevertheless, this was a very complex project. The master stroke of Moroso was to find a technique to cover the product with cloth that when perfectly stretched would follow all the forms and holes of the pieces.
Do-Lo-Rez, in 2008, is another seating system that takes its cue from the concept of the pixel to define its basic modules: soft blocks of different heights to freely arrange, which seem simple but actually conceal great constructive complexity. They are stiffer at the bottom, to contain the metal parts, and softer up above, to guarantee maximum comfort.
IN YOUR VIEW WHAT IS THE SPECIFICITY OF RON ARAD ON THE CONTEMPORARY DESIGN SCENE?
Ron is a very intelligent person, and thanks to his intelligence he reasons about design in an appropriate way. Obvious things don’t interest him. He has absorbed the thinking of Achille Castiglioni who said: if an object already exists, why keep on designing it? The real objective of his work is innovation. In fact, if he notices that one of his designs has some resemblance to other previously formulated things, he instantly blocks product development. It is always a special work because it is made by a pure person who has a deeply rooted sense of doing for innovation. To work with Ron Arad means experiencing this type of purity.
Text by Maddalena Padovani