Aram at 50: London’s go-to contemporary furniture store fetes its half-century milestone with a host of exhibitions
It’s half a century since Zeev Aram set up shop in the King’s Road, tapping into the sudden Sixties revival for all things mod and modern and providing what horrified reactionaries dismissed as ’hospital furniture’ for London’s bright young things. Aram’s eponymous store has since shifted truckloads of contemporary classics, giving many British buyers their first chance to own works by the likes of Marcel Breuer, Mies van der Rohe, Charlotte Perriand, Alvar Aalto, Le Corbusier and many more.
Imitators have followed, but Aram’s status as the go-to place for contemporary furniture tempted architects, designers and specifiers through his door in increasing numbers. In 1991, the company also opened up in Hampstead and the involvement of Zeev’s children Daniel and Ruth kept the business in the family. Aram’s ownership of the worldwide license for Eileen Gray’s designs has also helped the firm stay at the forefront of the industry.
Aram is now a mainstay of Covent Garden life, having relocated to Kean Street in 1973 and then to the sizeable warehouse next door in 1999. It’s this five-storey building - chock full of the innovative and unfamiliar - that will be the focus of the company’s half-century celebrations.
The space has been transformed into a gallery and library, made up of choice selections from over fifty leading contemporary creative minds, ranging from Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby to Richard Rogers, Zaha Hadid and Thomas Heatherwick, to our very own Editor-in-Chief Tony Chambers and editors-at-large Emma O’Kelly and Henrietta Thompson. Each has selected key tomes that tell the story of modern design, offering them up for anyone to step off the street and browse.
The Anniversary Library is accompanied by an exhibition that delves into the company’s history and archives. Zeev Aram’s own collection of furniture is making a rare public showing, as well as key pieces like Breuer’s ’Wassily’ chair, first brought to Britain by Aram in the 1960s, plus special objects and designs created for earlier anniversary celebrations.
Finally, the company is launching a unique installation piece developed by the late artist and poet Li Yuan-Chia during a stint at Aram in the mid-1960s. The Cosmagnetic Kinetic Art Multiples will be available only from Aram stores. After fifty years, Aram still has a timeless appeal.