A New Exhibition Celebrates The Beauty Of Crushed Cars

Ron Arad presents contorted, crushed metal as a collection of pressed flowers.

People relish a good wreck. Just look at the audience interest in the television show Jackass and its big-screen offspring, America’s Funniest Home Videos, along with the reality show Human Wrecking Ball–entertainment devised to feed our primal impulse to rubberneck.


Ron Arad’s pieces from In Reverse were made with that same unstoppable curiosity in mind. The industrial designer’s latest exhibit spans 30 years of his work with metal, but in an effort to stray away from the conventional retrospective, he has installed a brand new project that explores the way six Fiat 500s twist and distort under compression. Each car is pinned against the wall and “flattened to resemble the outcome of an accident in a cartoon or a child’s drawing that lacks a sense of depth.”

Arad’s career has always hinged on his fascination with metal. The Israel-born, London-based artist garnered early attention with the Rover chair and the Bookworm shelving unit, both of which have bent pieces of steel at their core.

The sculptures themselves are housed within another giant Arad metal work of art–the Design Museum Holon, which opened in Holon, Israel, in 2010, and boasts a swirling, rust-red, Cor-Ten steel façade.

Arad pulls back the curtain on his artistic process for In Reverse. Along with the mangled automobiles, he puts on display the digital simulations of the process of crushing the cars. There’s also a sculpture of a Fiat he built from layered pieces using a 3D printer. It’s a sort of factory in reverse, turning useful objects into functionless ones: “Rather than manipulate materials to render them functional or render digital models towards a functional object,” he says in the exhibition statement, “here I ‘reverse’ perfectly functional objects and render them useless.”

For an exhibit centered around a material so ubiquitous and also so cold, there’s a thick layer of sentimentality. During Arad’s youth, his family’s Fiat Topolino Giardinetta was crushed by a garbage truck. And in a batch of smashed objects in the exhibit, there’s a toy police car that Arad rescued from the street in Tel Aviv more than 40 years ago.

In Reverse is on display at Design Museum Holon, in Holon, Israel, until October 19.

About the author

Margaret Rhodes is a former associate editor for Fast Company magazine.