Ron Gilad - The Illusionist.

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.

Ron Gilad with pieces 'Paravento' (left) and 'Girella' (right) from his Soft Marble collection f or Salvatori, 2012.

Ron Gilad with pieces 'Paravento' (left) and 'Girella' (right) from his Soft Marble collection f or Salvatori, 2012.

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.

The ‘Dear Ingo‘ light fixture recalls a classic chandelier but is made of 16 task lamps. Designed in 2003 for Moooi, it is a homage to German lighting designer Ingo Maurer.

The ‘Dear Ingo‘ light fixture recalls a classic chandelier but is made of 16 task lamps. Designed in 2003 for Moooi, it is a homage to German lighting designer Ingo Maurer.

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. 

The Molteni & C installation of Gilad's pieces at London Design Festival.

The Molteni & C installation of Gilad's pieces at London Design Festival.

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. 

The Wright Auctions (Chicago) exhibition of Gilad's work in 2009 entitled ; Spaces etc / An exercise in Utility. 

The Wright Auctions (Chicago) exhibition of Gilad's work in 2009 entitled ; Spaces etc / An exercise in Utility. 

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. 

'Birth of a chair' made in enamelled sterling silver. One of the pieces exhibited at Wright in 2009.

'Birth of a chair' made in enamelled sterling silver. One of the pieces exhibited at Wright in 2009.

'Coffee table NO. 1' from the exhibition 'Spaces etc' in 2009 shows Gilad's interest in extrapolated architectural forms.

'Coffee table NO. 1' from the exhibition 'Spaces etc' in 2009 shows Gilad's interest in extrapolated architectural forms.

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.

Gilad's more recent work for Molteni & C (Console 60 and Tavolinos 35 and xx ) shows similar ideas to those explored in his one off pieces.

Gilad's more recent work for Molteni & C (Console 60 and Tavolinos 35 and xx ) shows similar ideas to those explored in his one off pieces.

Gilad's 'Panna Cotta' coffee table for Miolteni & C wobbles ever-so-slightly (just like a real panna cotta should) due to it's low marble mass and fine structure.

Gilad's 'Panna Cotta' coffee table for Miolteni & C wobbles ever-so-slightly (just like a real panna cotta should) due to it's low marble mass and fine structure.

“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's critically acclaimed 'Wallpiercing' lights for Flos were first shown in 2011 when he revealed the true artistic possibilities of LED to an excited audience. 

Gilad's critically acclaimed 'Wallpiercing' lights for Flos were first shown in 2011 when he revealed the true artistic possibilities of LED to an excited audience. 

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. 

The '56 cabinet'  for Adele-c is supported by miniature Thonet Chairs (The classic Model  No 14) in cast metal.

The '56 cabinet'  for Adele-c is supported by miniature Thonet Chairs (The classic Model  No 14) in cast metal.

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.  

Gilad's most recent offering for Molteni & C is his 'Controra' sofa and armchair launched during Salone del Mobile 2014.

Gilad's most recent offering for Molteni & C is his 'Controra' sofa and armchair launched during Salone del Mobile 2014.

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. 

The Glass Cube in Giussano.

The Glass Cube in Giussano.

Gilad's 'Controra' sofa and 'Panna Cotta'  tables along with classics by Ponti and Magistretti.

Gilad's 'Controra' sofa and 'Panna Cotta'  tables along with classics by Ponti and Magistretti.

3-D mapping projections create radically different interiors with the same 6 objects.

3-D mapping projections create radically different interiors with the same 6 objects.

A little bit sci-fi.

A little bit sci-fi.

Same objects totally different look.

Same objects totally different look.

A version of Gilads Grado 45º table installed in the gardens of Molteni's Glass Cube showroom.

A version of Gilads Grado 45º table installed in the gardens of Molteni's Glass Cube showroom.

For more on the one-off art pieces of Gilad go to the Spaces etc website. 

A large number of accessories designed by Gilad can be purchased direct from the Designfenzider website.

For his production furniture and lighting pieces visit Molteni & C, Adele-c and Flos