Important Design

Important Design

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 107. Oh, the Farmer and the Cowman Should be Friends.

Property from a Private Collection, California

Ron Arad

Oh, the Farmer and the Cowman Should be Friends

Auction Closed

June 7, 06:14 PM GMT


300,000 - 500,000 USD

Lot Details


Property from a Private Collection, California

Ron Arad

Oh, the Farmer and the Cowman Should be Friends

designed 2009

artist's proof 1 from an edition of 6 plus 2 artist's proofs

produced by Ron Arad Studio, Italy

corten, stainless steel

impressed Ron Arad and numbered AP 1/2

138 x 225 x 15 in. (351 x 569 x 40 cm)

Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner

In the vast realm of design, where innovation and creativity intermingle, Ron Arad stands out as a captivating force that defies conventions and challenges boundaries. A visionary London-based artist, industrial designer and architect, Arad's eclectic body of work transcends the confines of traditional disciplines, forging a path that blurs the lines between art and function. With the present “Oh, the Farmer and the Cowman Should be Friends,” Arad goes one step further by infusing into a functional work of art a playful dose of American pop culture.

The present wall-mounted shelving system comprises fifty stainless steel forms in the shape of each contiguous state in the United States of America (Michigan and New York each constitute two forms). When installed, the states come together to make a monumental map-like creation measuring close to nineteen feet long and thirteen feet high. The highly reflective steel and angular geometry of the elements, in combination with the scale of the entire piece, command stunning visual presence.

The shelving unit’s name is derived from a song in the 1943 musical Oklahoma!, composed by Richard Rogers. The musical's narrative revolves around the romantic entanglement between a cowboy and a farm girl. In the second act of the production, tensions between the farmers and cowmen reach a climactic point—and amidst escalating conflicts between the opposing parties, the song emphasizes the importance of harmony and unity, urging all individuals to embrace mutual understanding and peaceful coexistence:

“But the farmer and the cowman should be friends.

Oh, the farmer and the cowman should be friends.

The cowman ropes a cow with ease,

the farmer steals her butter and cheese,

but that's no reason why they can't be friends."

Arad’s title choice may allude to the cultural or political polarity prevalent in the United States. Arad's artistry transcends mere functionality, delving into the realms of symbolism and societal reflection. By infusing his design with a title that broadly speaks to local and international cultural landscapes, he invites us to consider the larger context within which we live and engage with one another. The piece therefore speaks to his ability to instill meaning and provoke introspection through his creative practice.

In the ever-advancing world of design, Arad prevails as an exemplar of innovation, blurring the lines between art, function, and with the present shelving unit, societal commentary. With the present shelving unit, imaginary boundaries that divide spaces on a map have been brought to a physical reality. Through his evocative work, Arad continues to inspire us to challenge conventions and, perhaps strive for a world where indeed the farmer and the cowman can be friends.