MArc Newson

Transport, Gagosian Gallery and Marc Newson.

Last year I posted a Design Friday article about Marc Newson’s Ford C21 concept car designed in 1999. In that post I talked about Newson’s prolific gift for design and his attention to detail with form, and materials. It is this attention to detail, and his amazing gift for design that has lifted him to the top of the design world and placed him in a group of great masters. Gagosian Gallery in New York has recognized this talent and has opened a show entitled “Transport” which features not only the C21, but a number of items Newson has designed specifically for the transportation industry.

As a kid obsessed with designing and making things, post-war Italian design was a huge source of inspiration. I was amazed by the seamless ability of designers and industry to produce every conceivable type of industrial product, from furniture to automobiles. My own career has undoubtedly been influenced by the Italians’ impact on so many areas of design.

–Marc Newson

The show will premiere Aquariva , Newson’s reinterpretation of the famous leisure speedboats produced by the iconic Italian boatmaker Riva. Newson brings contemporary styling to Aquariva and draws from its predecessor updating the glamorous lines of the 1960s, the Aquarama. Newson has infused the classic model with his streamlined and forward-looking style using ideas imported from his innovative work in automotive and aerospace design.

As an industrial designer, Newson approaches design as an experimental exercise in extreme structure and advanced technologies, combined with a highly tactile and exacting exploration of materials, processes, and skills. His unique approach to design has a broad and diverse range from concept jets and cars to watches, footwear, jewelry, restaurants, and aircraft interiors. In a world where the distinctions between art and design are becoming increasingly blurred Newson is a trailblazer, having pursued parallel activities in exclusive and mass production for more than twenty years.

Photos by Rob McKeever

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Separated at Birth, I-Sit vs Papa Bear.

This morning when I was going through my RSS feeds of daily inspirations, I came across a piece about a new chair designed by “Design Concern” and manufactured by Magnus Olesen. The new “I-Sit” chair is really nice looking, but I said to myself, “What does this remind me of?” and then it hit me. Hans Wegner’s iconic “Papa Bear Chair and Ottoman from 1951.

The new I-Sit chair was designed with a different goal in mind according to the site. The criteria for the I-Sit was, “a project about user-driven innovation and methods to develop well-functioning furniture where you can sit and rest – focusing on the user.” As opposed to Wegner’s vision of “Setting the gold standard for general comfort, and beautiful design with its characteristically playful organic design.”

Now don’t get me wrong, I think the I-Sit chair is stunning. There are elements of it that remind me of Marc Newson’s design work for the Ford C21 concept car, and it definitely draws inspiration from Hans Wegner’s Papa Bear chair. The I-sit has wonderful lines, and from what I can tell it adds another level of comfort by allowing the person sitting in it to recline the chair. The chair is  built up around a pressure moulded shell with slim legs of steel which give the design a both light and characteristic expression. The I-sit is the winner of a prestigious Red Dot Design Award, and is so deserving. It is a beautiful chair in its own right.

The thing is, I keep looking at that Hans Wegner chair, and thinking I’d rather own it.

Design Find of 2009 Taschen Brings It, I wish I could Afford It.

I love Taschen. They are truly one of the best book publishers in the world, taking risks that others don’t and publishing limited edition books that are always raising the bar. I own a number of large format books that they have put out, and if I had an extra 95,000 Euros (136,000 American) lying around I’d buy a copy of this.

Limited to a production run of 12, Taschen brings us Norman Mailer’s “Moon Fire” Lunar rock edition. The book comes with an actual moon rock which probably accounts for most of the cost here, but true to Taschen’s ability to take things to the next level they give you much, much more.

Limited to just 12 copies, numbered 1958–1959, the Lunar Rock Edition of Norman Mailer’s MoonFire has been designed by Marc Newson. The concept was inspired by the Apollo 11 LEM (Lunar Excursion Module). Each book is contained in a case made from a single piece of aluminum where the surface an actual 3-D topographical map of the Moon, and each edition comes with a unique piece of lunar rock.

The Lunar rocks are actually meteorites from the Moon which are exceptionally rare. To date there are fewer than 70 lunar meteorites known to exist, and their  total combined weight is approximately 55 kilograms ( roughly 2 ounces), making them millions of times rarer than the highest quality gem grade diamonds. Most lunar meteorites however reside in museum collections and research facilities, leaving only 15 kilograms or so available to individual collectors worldwide. Since acquiring an Apollo moon rock is virtually impossible, the only realistic way to own a piece of the moon is by acquiring a lunar meteorite which Taschen provides for the individual that is actually in a position to own this book.

Almost more than the Lunar rock, I am absolutely blown away by Newson’s design of the case. The legs that extend from  the bottom of the container look like the landing gear of the LEM. The case itself is laser etched with the title of the book and the edition number. From the photos it has a dense and substantial look to it, and there appears to be so much detail in  the topographical surface. In addition to the case, the book contains a Plexiglas-framed print, signed by astronaut Buzz Aldrin.

Oh and based on the images below, the content and page spreads look pretty amazing as well.

From the Taschen website.

Marc Newson is one of the most accomplished and influential designers of our time. He has worked across a wide range of disciplines to create everything from chairs, household objects, a concept car to restaurants, interiors of private and commercial jets and a spaceplane, designed for EADS Astirum, the fulfilment of a lifelong personal ambition.

The design concept for the Lunar Rock Edition is inspired by the Apollo 11 LEM (lunar excursion module). Each book is contained in a LEM-inspired case whose surface is an actual 3D topography of the Moon made from a single piece of aluminum, and is accompanied by a separately packaged, authentic and documented piece of lunar rock, all ranging in weight, size and coloration.

The Lunar Rock Edition is limited to 12 copies only (edition no. 1958-1969). Copy no. 1969 includes a complete Lunar Meteorite weighing in at 348 grams. One of the largest lunar meteorites ever found on Earth, this is an extremely rare item as nearly all meteorites have been cut into smaller portions for sale or for study.

Design Friday, A Look Back to the Future From 1999

Newson's 1999 concept car for Ford. The 021C

For design Friday, I wanted to take a step back. Ten years to be exact, and look at Marc Newson’s design for the Ford C21 concept car. Earlier this week my friend and fellow designer Jeff Chenault, sent me a link about this car, and I have to say I had totally forgotten about it. But in today’s climate, the automobile would probably have some success for Ford.

Back in 1999, then ford’s head of design, J.Mays decided to get a designer from outside of Ford to work on a concept car. His choice was Marc Newson who had been designing furniture and products but never worked on automotive design before.

Here is a little background on how the C21 came to be born. Ford’s Global Design and Chief Creative Officer, J. Mays, decided to hire a designer from outside the automotive field in order to break free from conventional automotive design thinking. His choice was Marc Newson, an emerging prolific industrial designer who had worked in aircraft design, product design, furniture design, jewelry, and clothing. J. Mays brief was simple. I want you to create a simple and affordable urban vehicle, which would be eco-friendly.

Newson got to work, creating a vehicle that appears both modern and retro in styling. The cabin has an open feel with its vertical slim pillars and large surrounding glass. The floor is completely flat that gently curves to meet the  vertical surfaces. Newson worked with Italian furniture manufacturer B+B Italia to produce the seats.  The entire dash panel can be moved vertically (along with the steering wheel) to adjust for different drivers. The interior is finished in a combination of orange PMS 021C, Newson’s favorite color, silver and white. Every element, from the specially woven carpet to the analogue instruments made by the Ikepod Watch Company, were designed by Newson.

The car featured unique thinking for the automotive world. The doors open out from opposing hinges, (suicide doors) for easy entrance and egress. The front seats swivel to help with entering and exiting the vehicle. The trunk opens like a dresser drawer pulling out from under the lid. Once again designed to create easier access to interior spaces.

The carbon fiber exterior features simple shapes and clean lines with no superflous decoration at all. The door handles are simple aluminum buttons surrounded by a translucent plastic ring which is illuminated when the remote central locking is activated.

The car is like a glasshouse, open light and airy with thin pillars flowing  around the clam-shell door frames to ensure the widest possible apertures. The front and rear views of the Ford 021C are dominated by single light lenses and a wrap around bumper.

Designed to specifically appeal to a consumer base of 21 and younger drivers, the car played to the fact that these consumers are highly brand literate, extremely technologically aware, and want quality products which express their individuality.

“The Ford 021C is an honest, simple, engaging car, and these are values which resonate with this important group of emerging automotive consumers,” said Ford’s Vice-President of Design, J Mays.

Mays went on to say, “The project has helped change the way Ford designs new vehicles. As car designers we tend to approach everything from an automotive perspective. The Ford 021C treats the car as a cultural icon. We have created a distinct point of view with this car and if you don’t get it, don’t worry – you’re probably not meant to.”

This kind of thinking was a radical departure for an industry that while shaping many aspects of the design world, has since the 1970’s produced more and more product that is for lack of a better word generic. All you have to do is look at the majority of cars on the road today. Many are slight variations of a competitors product, with conservative styling choices. The design philosophy behind the 021C set a foundation for new generation of Ford vehicles and was designed to appeal to a new generation of consumers in the 21st century.

“Ask children to draw a car and they’ll draw something like this, so in many ways the 021C is a familiar and comfortable object,” Newson said. “But it doesn’t use many typical automotive design cues, and while it does incorporate some interesting technology, it’s not technology used simply for the sake of it.”