Ron Arad

Ron Arad

One of the perks of working for the City of London is that I get free entry to the Barbican Art Gallery. So last night, armed with my staff pass, I made my way through the concrete maze that is the Barbican Centre to go and see the new Ron Arad exhibition: Restless.

I knew nothing about Ron Arad prior to this and only had a rough idea of what to expect from looking at the microsite on the Barbican website but I've been a fan of modern product design and architecture ever since my first CDT lessons at secondary school.

Sadly I'd forgotten that the Barbican is one of the few galleries that allows photography so I only had my trusty 3Mp Sony Ericsson camera-phone with me to capture the highlights - like the snappy-snap above - so I won't be submitting anything for an award.

The exhibition itself consisted of a variety of one-off collector's pieces - like the chairs made from steel rods that were intricately woven by hand and each take four men nine months to build - to mass-produced aluminium stacking chairs that take twenty minutes to press.

There was an area for visitors to try out the less valuable exhibits so I rocked self-consciously on a few of his plastic chairs and wished I had someone to play against on the curved and mirrored ping-pong table - apparently he's a keen player.

Alongside the chairs were other items of furniture: mirrored cabinets that moved unnervingly, the curling wall mounted bookshelves (the only item I did recognise, I think IKEA do a version) and the enormous series of storage boxes that formed each of the states of America.

The rest of the exhibition showcased his architectural work and there were slideshows and models on display showing shopping centres, private residences, offices and various public sculptures. The rotating restaurant atop a mountain peak and accessible only by cable-car gives you an idea of the amount of imagination, ingenuity and creativity that goes into his buildings.

Walking back to the station afterwards I thought how nice it must be to live in a home you've had commissioned, to work in a beautiful office and be surrounded by the best in product design. Most of his furniture wouldn't even fit through my front door and my office isn't an inspirational place to be but I did get the pleasure of seeing his creations at a gallery ten minutes from where I work, and it was free!