Thursday marks a major milestone for Israel's still nascent design scene with the full-scale opening of Ron Arad's long-awaited Design Museum in the town of Holon, a town of 200,000 just south of Tel Aviv.
A swooping, swish of a space, the $18 million museum is London-based Arad's first public building in his homeland - an anchor for Holon's up-and-coming cultural quarter, which includes a much-lauded Comics Museum and the post-modern Mediatheque.
Built at a cost of around $18 million, Arad's split-level museum is a pair of geometric display spaces together with a "design lab" - studio space for working creatives. Outside, the building's massive curved ribs cling to the core like bright red slabs of steel baleen in a riot of fluid modernity (Arad’s favourite photograph of these currently graces the limited edition cover of W*132).
Inside, the vibe is decidedly less dramatic - the gallery pair stacked one on top of the other like barren white walls with little of the whimsy evident outside.
Still, as evidenced by its debut exhibition - The State of Things, which opens tomorrow - Arad's museum gets the job done. Curated by Barbara Bloemink - formerly of New York's Cooper-Hewitt Museum - the exhibition presents some 100 seminal design pieces, classic and contemporary, to form a compelling and cohesive aesthetic narrative for both design experts and neophytes.
The works are international in origin and wide-ranging in form - from a fold-out chair by NYC's Studio Dror to a minimal porcelain collection from Nymphenberg in Munich; a Marcel Wanders ceramic piggy bank to an abstract, web-like crystal lamp confection by Ingo Maurer.
"It all forms a statement about the bright future of design," says co-curator Aric Chen, "dramatically displayed in Arad's first major building."
The museum could not open at a better time for Arad, whose career retrospective Restless is now on at London's Barbican Museum, which itself followed the seminal No Discipline exhibition last summer at MOMA. Aiming to put both Holon - and Israel - on the design world's stage, Arad's museum is an international totem by a designer, and now architect, at the top of his game.