Not all furniture is based around solving a practical problem. For designer Ron Gilad it’s far more conceptual. His work presents in a physical form the sort of slight of hand that illusionists use to baffle their audiences.
Every so often something just drops into my mailbox that causes me to stop and think., “Why haven’t I done that as a post on Design daily?”. So it was when Molteni & C sent out a press release on their headquarters showroom re-design by Ron Gilad. The Israeli designer's work first came to my attention when his ‘Dear Ingo’ light for Moooi was released back in 2003.
Of course I can’t pretend to have known much about Gilad until much later, when in 2011 he floored the design world with his ‘Wallpiercing’ lights for Flos. Since then he has gone on to be quite prolific, producing more designs for Flos plus a large number of designs for the Italian brands, Molteni & C and Adele-c. He has also created installations for the high-end marble company, Salvatori and three exhibitions of his one-off works for Milan’s Dilmos Gallery.
Gilad studied Industrial Design at Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem before leaving for New York in 2001 - just prior to completing his degree. Opening his own studio Designfenzider there, he pursued a career that was probably closer to sculptor and artist than product designer.
In recent years however, Gilad has gone from conceptual artist / designer to internationally known product designer – without compromising any of his artistic integrity along the way. He seems to have been able to bring the design purchasing public around to his own unique way of seeing things.
Drawing on the work of numerous artists such as Giorgio de Chirico (for his use of perspective) Marcel Duchamp (for his sense of the absurd) and René Magritte for his surrealist approach to visual perception and scale), Gilad explores a range of themes around the meaning of shape and how objects appear to the viewer.
“The process of translating ideas into three dimensional functional objects is something that has always intrigued me” Gilad once said in an interview with Zoë Ryan of the Art Institute of Chicago. “I don’t have a fixed recipe but always have a certain goal in mind: to reduce my cooking stock to the purest broth possible.”
Gilad works loosely within the framework of furniture and lighting but always manages to expose new ways of looking at the final object – whether it’s marble turned into a curl that resembles butter coming off a knife or lights that appear to be hooked through a wall. His minimal approach extends beyond the shape to the methods in which the pieces are constructed and function.
He has special talent in removing unnecessary weight with many designs seeming to float with no visible means of support like an illusionist performing a levitation trick he enjoys making the eyes of the public collectively widen and question what they are seeing.
What started this entire post was seeing a press release on Glass Cube, Gilad's renewal of Molteni & C's showroom at their headquarters in Giussano, so here are a few images showing how Gilad has added what Molteni & C call his "ironic and provocative vision". 3-D mapping projections were used to display the same 6 items in various room sets - sort of like a 3-D slide show.