Ron Arad on fashion
Interviewed by Giorgia Cantarini for Hunger TV
Even lesser lovers of design know the name, Ron Arad. Amongst the most influential designers of our time, he stands out for his daredevil curiosity towards innovation in every field, and for his versatility. He is in fact so versatile, that he has put on his magic hat (literally, as he always wears the same recognisable self-designed hat) to work on the creation of a special optical and sunglasses collection for pq Eyewear.
Over the years Arad has produced an outstanding array of innovative objects, furnishings, armchairs and chairs, designing also memorable spaces, some physical and tactile, others ethereal or digital. His imagination has no limit and he believes his secret is boredom. Why? Because it’s the mother of invention, when you are bored you think and think again, you create and restart and never stop. And now Mr Arad is moving into fashion. Certainly not boring at all
How did the collaboration start?
It started with meeting Assaf Raviv, the owner of the Italian eyewear company, pq, and a respected expert in the industry. He was persistent with me because at the beginning I wasn’t sure and not really convinced. He came several times to my office, which I thought was either a dream or nightmare. I believed that moving into the world of accessories meant entering the world of fashion, implying I’d have a devoted and specialised team of designers working on each collection season after season. But here I am, and we’ve created an easily wearable design object that I believe reaches an artistic peak and then lands into perfect functionality.
What makes this eyewear collection out of the ordinary?
They are different from any other shapes you’ve seen before, in terms of aesthetics and functionality, which I believe should always moving together. The rounded shape of the D-FRAME’s collection features the spine’s morphology and flexibility on the temples, thus allowing a natural joint-like movement. There are no hinges, no pins, and they are lightweight with a total flexibility, made in one piece. What seems just a fashion detail is indeed also a detail of comfort. As well as this, we have the optical collection, The A-FRAME. This started from a necessity, as I wanted to avoid the falling-down-the-nose that so many spec-wearers always have to face. I broke mine that way, so I had to come up with a creative fix considering that we all have different distances between nose and eyes. That’s where the peculiar “A” line of the glasses’ bridge comes from. I recently discovered that Oprah Winfrey is wearing a pair of them; she must love this simplified bridge regulation system that allows her not to go to the optician all the time. I mean, I guess she is a busy lady, don’t you think?
Is your collection unisex?
I think there are no boundaries. It’s a collection of freedom, far from conventions. I believe some of the shapes are more keen to be liked by women, but apart from that it is a collection for everyone. Democratically and stylishly correct.
What’s your favourite shape?
I love curves; rounded shapes as well as more regular linear ones. The shapes of the glasses are rounded, and also eyes are curved and faces rounded, but then there must be something that interrupts to put everything in its place. I like how opposites attract. Also the name “pq” applies to my taste: two letters that have a rounded shape that together reproduce a pair of glasses, which come one after the other in the alphabet and both share a linear stroke.
Does design flirt with fashion or is it vice-versa?
I like flirting, whatever that means when applied to other matters that are not the ones of personal relationships. I’d say fashion wants more design, even if design is already part of the fashion process with the constructions of the garments, the shape, the comfort and the sort of “technology” behind a pair of shoes or a suit. There are also fashionable aspects in design too; there are trends but I don’t like to be neurotic about it. I’m always open to new challenges and I act with avid curiosity. That’s why I will collaborate with Flit Flop in designing new shoes.
How would you define your style and what’s stylish on a woman?
Nothing and everything. I don’t think I fit a real definition. I love wearing this hat that I designed for Alessi a long time ago, with a jacket, a jumper (I’ve made some rounded holes with a pair of scissors) and a T-shirt, (preferably a striped one) a scarf, comfy shoes and never on earth a tie! I have never worn one in my entire life. I’m allergic to conforming and any sort of “musts”. It was easier when I was a hippy, so maybe I am still one of them at least in spirit. Style on a woman is how she moves, how she enters a room and how she talks. Of course what she wears makes her more attractive and a pleasure to watch, but it’s a plus on top of her attitude and personality.
How do you get inspired?
People inspire me, and so does boredom, which is the mother of all the greatest inventions. I also encourage people to be bored and to react to it; it’s my source of creativity. Design means exploring new dimensions and doing things that didn’t exist before. Look at suitcases; it’s decades that we’ve been using them and still some years ago someone came up with the idea of adding the wheels to them. This is the same for glasses. Now I want to work to make a pair that I can never lose or break. The best ideas are sometimes the simplest; so simple that you wouldn’t think they are there right in front of your nose.
An object that you would have loved to invent?
No doubt, the pencil. I would be a genius if I had invented that.