Art is Where the Home Is
Written by Shiny Varghese | February 22, 2014
To enter Ron Gilad’s world, one needs new eyes. This Proustian search for new perspectives comes from Gilad’s designs that provoke the insouciant and humour the curious. A table could have butler legs and a fruit bowl could be a fence.
“For a designer, it is crucial to have a child-like quality and not take things for granted. I’m stuck between being naive and asking questions,” says the 41-year-old, who was in Delhi for the India Design ID 2014. For one who hires employees based on their nationality so that he can “travel through their minds” to places he has never seen, and who returned from living in New York to his home in Tel Aviv because he was “addicted to the sounds and smells of the place”; Gilad cherishes the idea of home.
It’s quite clear that he wears his heart on his sleeve. As is the case of the “20 Houses for 20 Friends” series made for a solo show in 2009 for Chicago auctioneer Richard Wright, where coffee tables were inspired by blueprints from his childhood Bauhaus apartment. This modernistic take on design goes into his furniture, lighting and tableware. Profiles of boxes, houses and cubes are repeated, exaggerated and sometimes even miniaturised to create a new world for the audience.
“As a child, I went through therapy and when I came out of it, I felt the ground to be more balanced and I was ready to dig deeper. I began asking, how does a surface become a chair or a table?” says Gilad, whose work is metaphorical and absurd at once. On the website of his studio, Designfenzider (a play on his family name Seifenzider, which means soap maker), his work is introduced as: “hybrid objects that sit on the fat, delicious line between the abstract and the functional”. His love for teasing materials, proportions and angles is often from the shoulders of iconic designers as he twists and reshapes their designs. For instance, “56 Daybed” rests on miniature Thonet chairs, a Le Corbusier sofa folds to become a ‘V’ and his ‘Dear Ingo’ light is a salute to German designer, Ingo Maurer. Many of his pieces are available in design stores in Mumbai and Kolkata “I want to give the audience the potential to dream. What you fill into my work depends on you. Some may appreciate the aesthetic of a line, some may see a deeper meaning, or some may explore the edges not the volume,” he says.
Scooping out volumes is a motif that extends to his 3D designs, too. In a show at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art last year, the guards in the museum became his sculptures. “I was told I would get the space and five guards.
And I thought, how can I make my work relevant to them? So I made this light as a halo above their chairs such that when they sat or stood there, there would be a halo above their heads, and what was most rewarding was to see them smile,” he says, his eyes twinkling with child-like delight.
Currently, he’s most excited about a house he’s designing in northern Italy, where he intends to create an upside down staircase. “Of course, the house should be a pleasant place for a family to live in but there can be absurdity even when it’s functional, right? I think it’s a different way of approaching the traditional,” he says, “After all, what do we need to live? My mother says if she were in a desert all she would need is bread, water and olives.”And that sums Ron’s design sensibilities, which strip elements to the minimal and forms a Braille script which you can feel with your eyes.