Marc Newson

AUSTRALIA (1963)

Marc Newson is a former silversmith and self-taught architect and designer from Australia, known as a maverick in contemporary design. A book dedicated to his work, Marc Newson (Booth-Clibborn, 1999), details his design process; he has also 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 a Newson-designed Embryo Chair (Cappellini, 1999) while drinking from a Newson glass (Iittala, 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 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 including Alessi, Apple, Swatch, Vitra, Flos and B&B Italia. 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) – a chaise 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 a loosely defined hourglass shape – notably his Orgone Chair. It is no wonder his work has been characterized as sensuous with a tendency toward the obscene. Some critics who witnessed his rapid ascent in the trendy world of design questioned whether his work is truly avant-garde or merely fashionable. Lucy Bullivant, who interviewed Newson for Domus, 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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