Ron Arad Smile for Our NHS masks

Ron Arad launches "Smile for our NHS" fundraiser with masks featuring famous artists

Celebrities including Stephen Fry, David Baddiel and Elizabeth Hurley have modelled face masks designed by Ron Arad that will be sold to raise money for the UK's National Health Service.

The cotton masks are printed with portraits of famous artists including Picasso, Matisse and Dalí.

Launched today, the Smile for our NHS campaign aims to help healthcare workers treating coronavirus patients.

Ron Arad Smile for Our NHS masks
Stephen Fry (top) and David Baddiel (above) are among the celebrities modelling Arad's masks

"We're doing masks to raise money for the NHS," Arad told Dezeen in a video interview on Thursday during which he wore a prototype of a mask featuring a drawing of William Shakespeare by Arad.

"People cover their faces and I thought it would be a nice idea to have the bottom part of the face cheering people up."

"There'll be lots of art on faces; there'll be lots of Picassos, Matisses, Dalís," Arad told Dezeen. "Hopefully, it will be very successful and raise a lot of money for the health services."

Ron Arad Smile for Our NHS masks
Newsreader Natasha Kaplinsky wearing one of Arad's masks

Celebrities including actor and comedian Stephen Fry, actress and model Elizabeth Hurley, comedian David Baddiel and TV presenters Natasha Kaplinsky and Robert Peston have endorsed the launch and modelled the masks.

"These amazing masks, designed by Ron Arad, raise a smile, protect others and raise money for the NHS," Fry tweeted.

"People look funny in the masks," Arad added. "People like the idea."

Ron Arad Smile for Our NHS masks
Political journalist Robert Peston is among the figures supporting the fundraiser

Face masks can help protect people from contracting coronavirus and help prevent those with the virus from infecting others.

"Besides the benefits of limiting harm from coughs and sneezes, and reducing the instances of people touching their faces, the primary benefit of these non-medical face masks is to others: these designs turn them from something impersonal and frightening into coverings that will make people smile," said the campaign.

Ron Arad Smile for Our NHS masks
Actress and model Elizabeth Hurley

"Discussions are underway to make the masks available to members of the public, both in the form of ready-made masks and by making the designs available for home-made assembly."

The UK's taxpayer-funded NHS has suffered shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) including masks.

"Crucially, the project plans to bring new manufacturers on stream, to ensure there is no diversion from valuable NHS supplies," said the campaign. "Proceeds raised will be in aid of the NHS and causes dealing with the Covid crisis."

The project is a collaboration between Arad and the Ostro Fayre Share Foundation.

“I wanted to do something to use the power of art to help in this terrible crisis," Arad said. "We all have a duty to use our creativity, resources and compassion however we can. Hopefully, this project will support our wonderful NHS, as well as provide some cheer and amusement.”

London-based Arad is an industrial designer, artist and architect. He explained his latest project, a range of hand-finished moulded chairs called Don't F**k With The Mouse, in a video made for Dezeen's Virtual Design Festival.

Other key projects by Arad include the Tom Vac chair, the Big Easy chair and the Rover Chair.