In London I live next door to the brilliant architect and designer Ron Arad. If you don’t recognise his name you will have seen and maybe sat on his work. I live in an undistinguished block of flats, he has a beautiful house. To my embarrassment the people in my building are at war with Mr Arad. Something about a shared wall – I don’t know the details and I doubt it will end well.
In Tel Aviv last Autumn I only left the city centre once and that was to visit the Design Museum, designed by Mr Arad, in the suburb of Holon. The taxi took me through wide, dusty streets looking for my destination. Taxi drivers in Tel Aviv either played for Spurs in the 1970s or are émigrés from Russia, or both. This one was Russian and asked me what I see in ‘Art‘ as his son was interested and he, the driver, couldn’t see the point. It was a difficult conversation to have in a taxi and I gave him the best reply I could think of at the time using English that he’d understand. My answer was inadequate, of course, and even months later I don’t have a satisfactory response to the question. It may be that one of the unconscious aims of this blog is to find an answer for that nice taxi driver with an arty son. We will see.
Holon appeared, on that hot Tuesday morning, to be a ghost town. There were many mid-height, new, apartment blocks, twelve stories or more. There was a shopping mall that may have been a bunker. I saw no people, even at bus stops. It was bleak.
Then, after several wrong turns we found a low, curvy building. It appeared to have been built from ribbons. The closer we got the more enchanting it seemed. Half monumental sculpture, half modestly-sized museum, great iron girders swoop and curve then soar above you. They’re rusted from orange to brown top to bottom and look stunning against the cobalt sky. You are enveloped in the building’s embrace and yet feel utterly free. I skipped around the museum taking it in, taking photos. The building is thrilling. I giggled with joy.
There weren’t many other visitors on the day I was there, a party of schoolchildren, a couple of students. Inside it is cool and lit low. The corridors curve and slope. The temporary exhibits – Issy Miyake fashion, a room of Arad chairs – were overshadowed by the brilliance of the building.
I stayed for a coffee just to continue to be in this masterpiece for a few more minutes. If I were curating a museum of museums this would be my first choice to be in it. And that’s why I love the Design Museum in Tel Aviv.
Ron Arad: http://ronaradweb.squarespace.com
The Design Museum: http://www.dmh.org.il/default.aspx