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Mark Newson

Mark Newson

Australia (1963)

Marc Newson is a former silversmith and self-taught architect and designer from Australia, quickly becoming known as a maverick in contemporary design. He recently published a book on his work, Marc Newson (London: Booth-Clibborn, 1999) and over the last few years has appeared in numerous European and American magazines such as Blueprint, Domus, and Time. His honors include a 1999 George Nelson Design Award for innovative design and pieces at New York's Museum of Modern Art, Paris' Musée Des Arts Décoratifs, London's Design Museum, and Berlin's Vitra Museum. His designs are widespread. One may relax in an Embryo Chair (Cappellini, 1999) while drinking from a Newson-designed drinking glass (Iitala, 1999). Other projects include an automobile, restaurants, a private jet interior, a bicycle, a drain stopper, a toilet-roll holder, a bottle opener, coat hangers, and watches. No job is too large or too mundane for Newson, whose interest in designing everything stems from a desire to learn how things work.

Newson's immense popularity may be attributed to the fact that he has kept in touch with contemporary culture through traveling and working in cities around the world. After working in Australia, Tokyo, and Paris, he opened an office in London in 1997, where he works for clients such as Alessi, Apple, Swatch, Vitra, Flos, B&B Italia, and Ford. He designed all elements in the tangerine and white Ford 021C concept car, from upholstery to pivoting driver's seat to single headlight. Newson paid attention to the details and tried to build it the way he would a watch. The result was a uniquely coherent, streamlined vehicle.

Since designing Lockheed Lounge (1986-88) – an early chaise lounge made of riveted aluminum that owes its shape to a sculpted foam prototype – his palette of materials has softened a bit to include felt, wicker, Neoprene, polyurethane, and wood. A form to which Newson returns again and again is the orgone, a loosely defined hourglass shape. It is no wonder that his work has been characterized as sensuous with a tendency toward the obscene. Some critics who have witnessed his rapid ascent in the trendy world of design question whether his work is truly avant-garde or merely fashionable. Lucy Bullivant who interviewed Newson for Domus (February, 2000) set the record straight when she wrote: "Marc Newson's romantic media image is of an ageless surfer, a designer bracketed in with the audacity of the space age, but it's prone to be a typecasting identity that overlooks the sheer incisiveness of his grasp of the human, material and technological possibilities of design. ... Everything that comes his way ... gets thoroughly scrutinized and reconstituted, a deep process achieving perceptually light and unhindered results."

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