Marc Newson Interview

We caught up with famed designer Marc Newson for a quick Q&A, talking about his inspirations, collaborations and about being one of the highest selling furniture designers at auction. Marc was also kind enough to send us the lookbook for his latest collaboration with G-Star RAW for Summer 2011 which you can take a sneak peek at below.

Slamxhype: For those who don’t know, tell us a little bit about what you do as an industrial designer.
Marc Newson: I think of myself as a kind of gun for hire – clients hire me to fix their design problems. Hopefully they get something beautiful at the end.

Slam: What inspires your work?
Newson: Inspirations come from many sources – I can be inspired by landscape, by environment – especially when I visit countries like Japan which I find a constant source of aesthetic and cultural delight. But these days most of my inspiration comes from encountering new materials, processes and technologies through my work in many different industries.

Slam: What are you trying to achieve when you set out to create something new?
Newson: I try to solve a design problem and create a beautiful object at the same time.

Slam: What is it about your aesthetic and process that is able to translate across so many different mediums e.g furniture, timepieces, transport?
Newson: It actually makes no difference – the only difference is one of scale – it is all design to me…whether it is a watch, an item of clothing or a speedboat. I approach each project in exactly the same way – I look at it as a design problem that needs to be solved in a beautiful and original way. Preferably introducing new processes, materials and technologies during the development.

Slam: You’ve been described as an influencer (Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World), who influences you? Whether it be design, fashion, music etc
Newson: I am influenced by popular culture – wherever I happen to be in the world. I like to observe how people live their lives and look at the shapes that surround them. Films, art, fashion, music – all these things are part of it.

Slam: What’s has been the most memorable project you have worked on? (for good or bad reasons)
Newson: I enjoyed working on the 021C concept car for Ford- it was like designing 500 products in one – and I learnt an awful lot in the process. I have also learnt an enormous amount during my time working with Qantas Airways, and I very much enjoy learning about different industries. The aerospace industry for instance, is by far and away the most important and influential industry in the world in terms of materials and technology.

Slam: How has your design aesthetic/attitude changed since the early days?
Newson: I guess there has been a progression – but my approach remains the same. I like to think there is a thread running through my work – that makes it recognizable as being mine. After all it is all my DNA.

Slam: Your furniture pieces are amongst the highest selling in auctions, what do you think it is about your work that people relate so well to (and will part with alot of their hard earned cash?)
Newson: I don’t know – I guess you will have to ask them…

Slam: Every season you do a collaboration with G-Star, tell us a bit about that relationship.
Newson: The collaboration with G-Star has been very enjoyable. They are a super dynamic company mainly because of the talent and foresight of the CEO – Jos Van Tilberg. He had the vision to look outside of the fashion industry to use the eye of an industrial designer…a ‘fresh eyes’ approach. For me it has been quite refreshing to work in Fashion – as it is so immediate…when I want samples – it is done – just like that. In industrial design projects happen very slowly sometimes over a period of years… from idea to sketch to concept to tooling to prototype to manufacture to testing to market.

Slam: How do you feel about collaboration in general, whether it be in industrial, fashion, furniture design. Is it a part of you everyday design process?
Newson: I am a great believer in cross-pollination. I often like to use one material, process or technology from one industry and use it in another entirely different context. I find it revitalizing.

Slam: Do you have any projects/shows coming up that you can tell us about?
Newson: So many new projects on the go…unfortunately I am not allowed to talk about them at this stage of their development. I can say that they are in vastly different industries. I can tell you that there is a new large and comprehensive book on my life and work due to be published later this year, by Taschen.

Thanks to Marc Newson for his time and images. You can find out more about the man himself by jumping on his website.

Top image from Designophy