Tracking Marc Newson‘s rise from student to superstar, Taschen’s new monograph simply titled “Marc Newson. Works” promises to be the most complete catalogue of the designer’s significant oeuvre. With text in English, French and German, the book chronologically traces his design language across categories from furniture to transportation. Newson, it turns out, is one hell of an experimenter. He touches on virtually every conceivable aspect of the built environment, with materials ranging from riveted aluminum and fiberglass to Carrara marble and thermo-polyurethane. Newson’s work bridges fine art and industrial production—just as fit for the Gagosian Gallery as it is for a Nike collaboration.
Totaling 609 full-color pages, it is clear from the outset that the book is a comprehensive collection. Newson’s first work—a series of impractical aluminum bracelets—is a far cry from his later efforts in futuristic transportation. His “Kelvin 40” (2004) is a recreational aircraft inspired by Andrei Tarkovsky’s film Solaris. Complete with stealth looks and a gaping void on the nose, it fits the bill of an alien machine. Another ambitious project is “Bodyjet” (2010), a jetpack complete with retractable landing gear and propulsion arms that emerge in massive tubes from the engine. While neither creation has entered production, Newson is almost uncannily adept at translating his sense of space from furniture to theoretical mechanics.
While much of Newson’s work was done as one-off experiments, his collaborations are likely to thank for his status as a household name. The “Zvezdochka Sneaker” (2004) is the product of his work with Nike. The shoe—inspired by the International Space Station—is meant as an ideal space shoe, with an injection-molded thermo-polyurethane shell around a bootie that works for both exercise and cabin lounging.
More recently, Newson worked with Pentax to create the K-01 digital camera that rocked the tech and design worlds. Reflecting on the K-01’s boxy design, Newson says, “When form becomes arbitrary, surfaces become nebulous and lose their logic. I think they become gratuitous.”
In the world of fine art, Newson is probably best remembered for the Gagosian Exhibitions (2007-2008). The massive collection exemplifies the common thread of space and void as well as the designer’s preoccupation with exposing the interior of forms. The “Voronoi Shelf” was part of this exhibition, created from a five metric-ton block of Carrara marble and cut with computer-generated Voronoi cells. The degree of complexity, the proportions and delicacy of the piece all serve to showcase Newson’s unique design aesthetic.