marc newson interview
marc newson interview marc newson interview
apr 09, 2003

marc newson interview

portrait of marc newson © designboom



we met marc newson in milan on april 9, 2003.



designboom (DB): what is the best moment of the day?


marc newson (MN): siesta time, I suppose, after lunch (laughs). when you start to fall asleep.



DB: what kind of music do you listen to at the moment?


MN: I’ve always listened to a lot of film music, actually. no particular films, but I like film music for some weird reason.

lamps made in corian®, dupont, 2003



DB: do you listen to the radio?


MN: never. I like the idea of it though.



DB: what books do you have on your bedside table?


MN: oh none, because I don’t have a bedside table. I don’t even have a bed. I’m staying at a friends house.




‘lockheed lounge’, for pod 1986-88



DB: do you read design magazines?


MN: never.


DB: where do you get news from? newspapers?


MN: newspapers. I do read newspapers, and occasionally when I’m staying at hotels in different countries, I end up watching CNN unfortunately.



 ‘black hole’ table for idee, 1988



DB: do you notice how women are dressing? do you have any preferences?


MN: yeah, I think I do. but I don’t have particular preferences in terms of what they wear. I think it’s more a question of how they wear it. you know, there’s many different looks and I think you can wear any look really really well, I mean if it suits you. if you wear it well, if your good in your clothes. I guess it’s more a question of confidence.


DB: what kind of clothes do you avoid wearing?


MN: I never wear a suit, but I have to sit with a lot of people who do — not that there’s anything wrong with wearing suits, but you know, generally the people that tend to wear them are…more boring than the ones that don’t.



 ’embryo’ chair for powerhouse museum, sydney, ( idee) 1988manufacturered by cappellini



DB: do you have any pets?


MN: I do not have any pets. no, but I’d really love to have a dog, if I didn’t travel so much.


DB: when you were a child, what did you want to be?


MN: I was fascinated by the idea of making things.

‘orgone’ lounge for cappellini, 1989



DB: where do you work on your designs and projects?


MN: I work a lot on my designs and projects on airplanes. I know that sounds really clichéd…boring, but to be honest with you, it’s really the only moments that I have when there’s kind of really nothing going on. it’s kind of like being in a sensory deprivation tank, if you don’t have to watch the shit films that they have of course. especially on long world trips to japan or something — 15 hours on a plane is a perfect time to really immerse yourself in a project.



DB: when you’re working, do you discuss or exchange ideas with colleagues, or with other designers?


MN: very rarely in fact. I find that I normally work the best when I’m on my own, when I’m in a perfectly kind of silent environment. the most important thing for me is not to have any stress around, so in fact when I’m with my colleagues — which is to say the people I work with in my office — I don’t do design. I don’t design in my office ever. I answer the telephone, I read email. I work. I develop designs, I engineer designs on a computer, but that’s not where the ideas are born.

interiors for the dassault falcon jet, 1998



DB: describe your style, like a good friend of yours would describe it.


MN: I don’t even know if there are any good friends that could describe, stylistically what I do. I’ve never heard anyone describe, what I do very well. it’s just so hard stylistically to kind of classify what I do. sometimes it’s round, sometimes it’s less round… sometimes it’s colors. the point is with my design, with what I do, whether it’s design or whether it’s art, because I do everything from designing airplane interiors, which is like on one level really pure engineering (ok, there’s a bit of design there, but it’s mostly engineering). on the other end of the spectrum, I’m designing sculptures — things like the lockheed lounge, there’s a whole lot of limited edition pieces that I designed that are being sold at auctions, and things like that. now that’s my fantasy, that’s my pure emotion just running wild. no one is telling me what to do, telling me how to do it. I have both of those things at each end of the spectrum, and I’m doing everything in between from wristwatches to interiors to suitcases to toilets.

‘nimrod’ chair for magis, 2003



DB; do you think there is an evolution from the beginning of your work until now, in your thoughts, in your forms?


MN: yeah, of course there is, there is a sort of an evolution. the problem with the word evolution I guess, is that it implies that there is an end, that you know it’s going…well it’s gonna end up somewhere, and I don’t know where it’s gonna end up. it’s evolving, but I don’t know where. it’s changing. although at the same time I think there’s a thread you know, I think there’s a link there’s something which attaches each thing I do together, like a thread…I hope…that’s consistency.


DB: do you have fun working?


MN: sometimes, not all the time. you know the the big difference between what I do know, and what I did ten years ago, is that now it’s really a job, now I have people working for me, now I have a company, now I have responsibilities, now I have to sit in really boring meetings. I often find myself in situations when I ask myself what I’m doing there. so there are aspects of what I do, that I don’t like, but that’s part of mass production and industry.

wall mounted clothes hook, 1999for alessi



DB: which project has given you the most satisfaction?


MN: it’s impossible for me to isolate one particular project that’s given me the most satisfaction. there are many projects that I’ve done, that I’m happy with. in fact I’m happy with everything I’ve done. because if I wasn’t happy with it… it takes two to three years to develop a project, and that’s two to three years – if you’re not happy with it you kill it… you know (poof) it doesn’t happen…it happens, if it’s not going well. only about 70 % of my works come to an know it’s a hell of a lot of work… two or three years. I’m a big believer in not trying to correct something which is broken.I believe that you just forget it and start again.


DB: is there any designer and/or architect, you appreciate a lot?


MN: there are really a lot actually when I think about it, people like bruno munari, many artists actually more so than designers. although of course I’m fans of people like castiglioni and and other people from his generation.

 ‘silver chair’, quantas skybed 2002



DB: and those still active, are there any particular ones you appreciate?


MN: you probably might be surprised when I mention people like the bouroullec brothers or jasper morrison, or… the usual suspects.

hair dryer, 2002for vidal sassoon



DB: what are you afraid of regarding the future ?


MN: I think I’m afraid of the freneticism, that the kind of hyper-activity that we’re kind of heading towards, that the sort of inhumanity in terms of the way we work and the way we live our lives, that we’re kind of ending up in a point where you know we kind of lose ourselves, and forget ourselves, or forget what we like doing and how we like to live. I look at it from a personal point of view, where you know you often find yourself in situations, and you don’t know why, and the amount of control that you lose because of the way society is structured.



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