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Bookcase - This Mortal Coil

This Mortal Coil

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    London (designed)
    London (made)

  • Date:

    1993 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Arad, Ron, born 1951 (designer)
    One Off Ltd (manufacturer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Mild steel

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Physical description

This book case is constructed from a single strip of mild steel, coiled to form a spiral. The 'rings' of the coil are space with mild steel dividers, hinged at both ends to allow the bookcase to move slightly. The dividers are riveted to the coil at one end and bolted at the other, which allows them to be released so the coil can be tightened and reduced in size for transportation or storage. The dividers vary in length which determines the various sizes of the 'shelves'.

The mild steel used for the bookcase was immersed in oil in production to allow it to cool at a determined rate which ensures its spring. The process also produces the surface finish which can be maintained with a conventional wax-based spray-on furniture polish.

Place of Origin

London (designed)
London (made)


1993 (made)


Arad, Ron, born 1951 (designer)
One Off Ltd (manufacturer)

Materials and Techniques

Mild steel


Height: 228.5 cm, Width: 212 cm, Depth: 33 cm

Descriptive line

model This Mortal Coil; British 1993 des. Ron Arad man. One Off Ltd (books displayed with bookcase stored at BH/FF15/ALCOVE7)

Labels and date

Section text and caption from Ron Arad: Before and After Now exhibition, 12 June - 1 October 2000:
Springs and Coils
Flexibility and movement are the keys to these pieces.
After the Well Tempered Chair, which was constructed out of four 0.8mm sheets of stainless tempered steel, bent and bolted by wingnuts, Arad embarked on experiments with coils of thicker tempered steel (1.5mm). Initial explorations of the nature of the material developed into pieces of furniture with a new type of movement (pieces such as Beware of the Dog and This Mortal Coil) and new types of free-form lines (as in the Bookworm).
Some of the spring pieces made initially by One Off were later translated into industrial production pieces for Moroso (Spring, Off Spring) and the Bookworm was translated into a plastic extruded version by Kartell.

This Mortal Coil (Black)
Free-standing spiral bookshelf
Tempered Steel
Made by One Off Ltd, London
V&A Museum Number: W.18-1993 []
Designed by Ron Arad (Israeli, born 1951)
Made by One Off Ltd, London, 1993
Mild steel

Arad trained at London's Architectural Association and began making furniture from salvaged materials in the early 1980s. He has become one of the most influential designers working today. This is made of a single strip of unfinished mild steel, clearly expressing its structural joints. However, its use for book storage can be seen as secondary to its sculptural impact.

W.18-1993 [1993-2006]


Low-carbon steel


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Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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