Omer ArbelOAOContact

Omer Arbel explores the intrinsic mechanical, physical, and chemical qualities of materials as fundamental departure points for making work. Arbel’s pieces have been exhibited at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Spazio Rossana Orlandi, Mallett, Monte Clark Gallery and Dimore Gallery. He is the recipient of the 2010 Ronald J. Thom Award for Early Design Achievement and the 2015 Royal Architectural Institute of Canada Allied Arts Medal. Omer Arbel is the creative director of Bocci.

Omer Arbel Office is a creative practice spanning multiple scales and cultural-economic contexts to include building design, industrial design, materials research, sculpture, invention, and high craft manufacturing.

#600–1706 West 1st Avenue
Vancouver, British Columbia
Canada V6J 0E4


2009 / Gold, silver, bronze

The competition proposal for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Medals made reference to the iconographic jewelry archetype, the locket, instead of alluding to the traditional military iconography of a medal. Two sheets of flat material, held together by hidden magnets, bulge to provide a hollow internal cavity in which a sentimental object such as a photograph or lucky charm can be placed. A manufacturing method derived from the lost wax technique was developed to yield a cavity of differing shape in each individual medal made. Inside the cavity, prior to occupation by the sentimental object, athletes would find a conventional pendant necklace, which can be worn in day to day life. In the 15 minutes before each sporting event, olympic committee operatives would shadow and record each finalist in their final preparations. These recordings would be engraved onto the inner surface of each medal, such that each may be placed on an analog record player to sound the final minutes before the competition.

fictionalized example of the hockey medal engraved sound recording

Photography by Robert Keziere


After award of contract, and in response to stakeholders and parameters, the second iteration of the design made use of a two layer undulating surface. Hidden within this surface, and held together by hidden magnets, was an internal cavity of differing shape and size. The undulating surface was conceived of as a much larger ‘canvas’ than the medal itself, onto which a large piece of artwork by the aboriginal artist Corrine Hunt was applied. Individual medals were ‘cropped’ in a different location in each iteration of the fabrication process, making each unique from the others both in terms of its specific undulating form, and in terms of the portion of cropped artwork visible. The complete artwork would only be perceived when all the medals are seen together.


Further constraints resulted in a third and final iteration of the design, maintaining an undulating form for the medal surface, identical for each piece, with a laser etched, unique ‘crop’ of Corrine Hunt’s master artwork.