INTERVIEW :: Marc Newson on Design + Innovationby ams on Sep 13, 2014 • 12:33 pm
Australian-born Marc Newson has designed pretty much everything from chairs to watches and private jet interiors, and is considered to be one of the most influential in his field, heralded by the recent affiliation with the design team at Apple.
The interview below published by Luxury-Insider is written by Lisa Marie Tan, and was posted by SNAP in February 2013 – detailing News’s trajectory to global design domination and tracks his association with Apple design director Jony Ive.
“As a child growing up in Sydney, Marc Newson enjoyed tinkering with the tools in his grandfather’s workshop “to make stuff… I was trying to make everything I could. I can remember, in my teenage years, thinking what I would like to do, and this is it‚Äîto make things. I’m not sure I knew it was design, but that’s just definition, really.” One of his earliest obsessions was building bicycles‚Äîsurely a result of his passion for cycling, which he does not have much time for these days.
These days, for Newson, are jet-setting ones as he travels from his professional base in London, to anywhere a client brief takes him. His latest destination is the Italian Riviera, where he is just in the final stages of completing a boat for an Italian company.
It’s not just client meetings that propel Newson around the world. After his studies in jewelry and fine arts at Sydney College of the Arts, his fluid paneled aluminum “Lockheed Lounge” chaise lounge captured the interest of the international design press. This initial recognition brought Newson to Tokyo, Japan, where he stayed for five years and created yet another icon‚ the “Embryo Chair.” Then Paris came calling as his industrial engagements came to span a wide range of clients, ranging from Alessi and B&B Italia to Flos and Idee; from Samsonite and Qantas to, most recently, Smeg.
At the moment, Newson calls London home. “I realized very early on that Australia wasn’t going to be easy to have as a base so I moved to Japan as a means of establishing something (outside the country). But the location was really more of a spontaneous move, nothing strategic about it. But by my next move to Paris, I understood that to really be able to do what I wanted to do, most of my work and clients were based in and around Europe (so I had to be too). Eventually, I moved to London because it’s just a better place to do business. Paris is a great place to live but not to do business,” Newson reveals of his city sojourns.
Clearly, all that re-location and re-orientation is going to have an impact on a designer’s mind. And it’s all a good thing, according to Newson, “I think traveling does (influence), a lot. I think it’s very important for designers to expose themselves to different cultures. Design is a very international business and there’s no way I can work in just one country. Design speaks an international language, it’s not geographically specific. That’s good and bad‚Äîyou end up doing a lot of traveling, but the result is work that is very global.”
Widely acknowledged as one of the most prolific and influential contemporary designers, Newson‚ who has been called the new Starck‚ doesn’t seem to run out of ideas the way other creative-types often do. His design acumen graces restaurants, interiors, furniture, cookware, transportation, watches, luggage and even the occasional shoe; just listing Newson’s portfolio of work is a mind-boggling affair.
Does Newson not sleep? Indeed, on the occasion of the interview, he is visibly exhausted from a 24-hour schedule that included flight delays, bad traffic, a dinner and a late night out. Still, the youthful and lean 46-year-old is doggedly pushing on. He is also dogged when it comes to relentlessly pushing out the number of designs he does. “I’m lucky I have the opportunity to do all these things. But at the end of the day, it’s my job. I look at it very pragmatically, given that I spend 300 days a year designing things, it’s no surprise I produce a lot of products.”
This no-excuses ethos also illuminates how Newson can be such a widely applied designer. “The fact is that they are all design,” he says of the spectrum of works he has amassed to his credit from a two-decade career. “They all share a common thread which requires the same skill set that you apply to designing a bottle or a pair of glasses‚Äîthey are all problems which need to be solved, and they are all going to involve the use of some kind of technology, material and process.”
“Sometimes, you’ll find they can be quite similar. But even if not, it’s the job of a designer to be able to do all of those things; if you can’t, then I would probably say you’re not a very good designer. You need to be able to respond to different briefs and problems.”
Hardly surprising then, that he considers Jonathan Ive, senior vice president of industrial design at Apple Inc, a peer worthy of respect. A similarly decorated and prolific designer, Ive is the man behind Apple’s sexy good looks, as the brain behind the style sheet of the iMac, the PowerBook G4, MacBook, unibody MacBook Pro, iPod, iPhone, and iPad.
“He’s done such an incredible job, every Appple product he designs, he has basically re-invented it. You never knew what was going to happen or (what it would end up looking like) before he came up with the iPod or the iPhone. He just keeps going and it’s very impressive,” says Newson.
Although Newson calls what he does a job‚Äîand is adamant about it even‚Äîbut clearly, drive and passion are at the heart of the man and contemporary legend. You could say Newson is the work, even as he attempts to take a reprieve, “I’m big on holidays‚Ä¶ just being able to unwind and not think about work. But it’s not easy because I always end up thinking about work.” For those who can’t wait to see and experience the next Newson project, that’s good news.”
Luxury-Insider with text by Lisa Marie Tan.
IMAGES (c) Marc Newson Ltd