‘If I Were a Carpenter’: Ron Arad chairs revisited with Alpi

Ron Arad chairs are revisited with Italian wood-composite specialist Alpi, giving the ‘Big Easy’, ‘Oh Void’ and ‘Southern Hemisphere’ a new look

Ron Arad Chairs made of Alpi Wood
The ‘Oh Void’ chair by Ron Arad, part of his 'If I Were a Carpenter' collection with Alpi
(Image credit: Pierpaolo Ferrari)

Ron Arad chairs get a new twist in a new collaboration with Italian wood composites manufacturer Alpi. The designer and Alpi joined forces to create new editions of Arad's iconic ‘Big Easy’, ‘Oh Void’ and ‘Southern Hemisphere’ chairs, shown at an exhibition at the Alpi showroom in Milan (until 22 December 2022). Titled 'If I Were a Carpenter', this is the latest in a series of creative collaborations started from an idea of Vittorio Alpi, who wanted to give a new dimension to his family company’s flat materials. Previous collaborations with Alessandro Mendini, Martino Gamper and Piero Lissoni helped demonstrate the company’s vision for the future. 

Iconic Ron Arad chairs in colourful wood

Big Easy, one of a series of Ron Arad chairs made in Alpi wood

‘Big Easy’

(Image credit: Pierpaolo Ferrari)

Now working with the London-based designer and artist, Alpi presents three iconic pieces made in the company’s signature colourful woods. ‘The pioneering architect, designer and artist Ron Arad already inhabited my wish box,’ says Vittorio Alpi. ‘He decided to make three chairs from his “BTT“ (Blame the Tools) series using boards of our wood in two colours, one for each side. The result is astonishing, and it shows how easily Ron is able to enter a new world and wield new tools while maintaining all his elegance, subversive style and spirit.’

The designer is no stranger to experimentation; we recently saw Ron Arad’s first NFT project join his wealth of design and architecture works. For this new collaboration, Alpi created specially developed woods to give the shapes an optical effect, using boards in two colours to enhance the aesthetic. The sculptural nature of the chairs fits the project well, each piece of furniture abstracted into its pure form through the gridded wood structures. 

‘Southern Hemisphere’ chair, one of a series of Ron Arad chairs in Alpi wood

‘Southern Hemisphere’ chair

(Image credit: Pierpaolo Ferrari)

‘I was delighted when I was approached by Alpi and was asked to make some pieces using their extraordinary range of wooden sheets,’ says Arad. ‘It was impossible to chase away the “idea” that took charge: to make armature pieces of coloured, layered, wooden plates that would enjoy different tones from different views and directions. And unlike the Corten or stainless steel, it will also celebrate the layered, toned edges of the trimmed wooden sheets.’

The ‘Blame the Tools’ series started with Arad’s ‘Roddy Giacosa’, a lattice study of a Fiat 500, whose body was made of steel and divided into several sections. Redesigned as an armour, the car inspired Arad to revisit some of his most iconic chairs with Alpi. ‘“Big Easy” is of course the first one,’ he continues. ‘We modelled it, rendered it, and made videos of walking around the pieces. We studied samples, we chose colours and patterns. Somehow I’m sure it will turn out better than I deserve.’

‘If I Were a Carpenter’ is on view until 22 December 2022

ALPI showroom
Via Solferino 7


Rosa Bertoli was born in Udine, Italy, and now lives in London. Since 2014, she has been the Design Editor of Wallpaper*, where she oversees design content for the print and online editions, as well as special editorial projects. Through her role at Wallpaper*, she has written extensively about all areas of design. Rosa has been speaker and moderator for various design talks and conferences including London Craft Week, Maison & Objet, The Italian Cultural Institute (London), Clippings, Zaha Hadid Design, Kartell and Frieze Art Fair. Rosa has been on judging panels for the Chart Architecture Award, the Dutch Design Awards and the DesignGuild Marks. She has written for numerous English and Italian language publications, and worked as a content and communication consultant for fashion and design brands.

With contributions from