The Canada Council for the Arts announced that Vancouver designer Omer Arbel is the winner of the $10,000 Ronald J. Thom Award for Early Design Achievement. This award recognizes exceptional talent and achievement in the field of architectural design, and is given every two years to an emerging practitioner or a firm demonstrating both creative talent and exceptional potential in architectural design. The candidate must be sensitive to architecture’s allied arts, crafts and professions, including landscape, interior and furniture design as well as decorative and graphic arts. This prize was established in 1990, in collaboration with the Canada Council, by friends and colleagues of Thom, an eminent Canadian architect, as a tribute to his life and work.
Arbel is a renowned architect and designer who established OAO – Omer Arbel Office – in Vancouver in 2005. Arbel’s inventive exploration of the aesthetic as well as the technological has found form in a range of experimental furniture, lighting and architectural design. He is well known for the sleek and sculptural 2.4 Chair, which is now a collector’s item, and by some of his most recent objects such as the Series 14 Chandelier, the Series 22 Socket and the Series 28 Chandelier. Mr. Arbel is the co-designer of the 2010 Vancouver Olympic and Paralympic medals. He is also the creative director of manufacturing and design company Bocci.
Arbel was selected by a peer assessment committee, which included Monica Adair, founding partner of the Acre collective (Saint John, NB); George Baird, founding partner of Baird Sampson Neuert Architects (Toronto); Bruce Haden, partner of Hotson Bakker Boniface Haden Architects (Vancouver); Serena Keshavjee, Associate Professor at the art history program of the University of Winnipeg; and Pierre Thibault, founder and senior architect of Pierre Thibeault Architect (Sillery, Quebec).
The jury members said, “Omer Arbel creates an extensive range of objects, from practical to symbolic, with wonderful playfulness. He roots his designs in concept, engages the properties of a broad palette of materials and clearly values engineering. A deep interest in both serial production and custom fabrication allows him to expand beyond the normal bounds of professional architectural practice.”
In addition to its principal role of promoting and fostering the arts, the Canada Council for the Arts administers and awards many prizes and fellowships in the arts, humanities, social sciences, natural and health sciences, engineering, and arts management. These prizes and fellowships recognize the achievements of outstanding Canadian artists, scholars, and administrators. The Canada Council for the Arts is committed to raising public awareness and celebration of these exceptional people and organizations on both a national and international level.