“I’m fascinated with materials, with processes, with technologies.”
London-based Australian designer Marc Newson has designed everything imaginable – furniture, yachts, mobile phones, footwear, bicycles, kitchen accessories, cars, surfboards, interiors and even a spaceplane. From the moment I first saw his Embryo chair some years ago I knew design was a part of me. I am inspired by Marc Newson’s ability to touch so many different areas. His designs have achieved the status of modern design icons and infiltrated the pop culture appearing in Madonna’s videos and in Austin Powers films. Having set numerous records at auction, Marc Newson’s work now accounts for almost 25% of the total contemporary design market. In 2009, his aluminium Lockheed Lounge Chair went for $1.6 million – the highest price ever for a piece of contemporary design art. Marc Newson was included in Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World and has received numerous awards. In addition to his core business, he has also founded a number of successful companies, even a fine watch brand and an aerospace design consultancy, and has also held senior management positions at client companies; including currently being the Creative Director of Qantas Airways. Marc Newson likes to read scientific journals. The Japanese culture inspires him. He has 2 children, loves to surf and snowboard.
Embryo Chair and Wood Chair
When did you first realize that you wanted to be a designer?
I did’t plan to be a designer – I just started making things at art school. I studied jewellery and silversmithing but convinced my tutors that the chair I was making for my final show was like jewellery as it was ‘worn‘ close to the body… I got away with it and then continued to make pieces of furniture. I have always made things – when I was about twelve I made a watch out of a piece of plexiglass and some old watch hands – and I was always taking apart old bicycles and remaking them into other forms of transport, like go-karts…
Looking back at your first project what knowledge do you wish you had back then?
I think experience is the most useful knowledge – so I couldn’t acquire knowledge without practical experience. Knowing how to use different kinds of tools would have been useful at the beginning.
Samsonite Scope and Ford 021c
Is there something that connects all your projects?
I think there is something that’s recognisable – that there is something – like a thread, that connects all my work. Well – it is all my DNA I guess.
What do you enjoy most in your work?
Learning about different technologies and processes through the diverse industries I encounter in the course of my work.
Nike Zvezdochka sneaker and Aquariva speedboat – Marc Newson’s reinterpretation of an Italian icon
What do you love to do when you are not designing?
Play with my kids and sleep.
What are your favorite books?
It depends – but usually not novels. Often it is background reading on the science behind a latest project.
TREK Art Bike designed for Lance Armstrong and Kelvin 40 jet
You have received numerous awards and was included in Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World. You are represented in the exhibitions of many museums including the MoMA in New York, London’s Design Museum, the Centre Georges Pompidou and the Vitra Design Museum. What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?
I think my greatest achievement is to have had the opportunity to design so many different projects from a soap dish through to a spaceplane.
What does success mean to you?
I don’t really think about it – I am too busy working and thinking about the project in hand. Maybe one day I will sit back and feel a sense of validation. I do feel that luck has had a lot to do with my success.
Atmos 561 and Astrium Space Jet
What’s your advice to upcoming designers?
Always make things and learn how things are made.
My signature question – what are the most important design elements?
Improving on what went before, simplification, and the use of new materials, technologies and processes.
photos: Marc Newson Ltd