Marc Newson and Apple design at the Powerhouse Museum

Caroma Marc Newson Bathroom Collection. Courtesy Good Design Australia
Caroma Marc Newson Bathroom Collection. Courtesy Good Design Australia

The recent news of Marc Newson joining the Apple team is a big deal in the design world. This really does confirm the Australian-born designer’s ‘superstar’ status. Those of you familiar with the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences would know that our collection features many products designed by Newson for the mass market.

On display now in the Good Design Awards exhibition is the Caroma Marc Newson Bathroom Collection, winner of the 2014 Good Design Award of the Year. This collaboration between two of Australia’s best known design names includes toilets, tapware, showers, baths and a urinal. A rigorous design and engineering program solved many challenges resulting in patented installation technology that allows the form to flow uninterrupted onto the mounting surface or wall.

'Gello' table, Marc Newson/3 Suisses, Australia/France, 1994.
‘Gello’ table, Marc Newson/3 Suisses, Australia/France, 1994.

The first time Newson was commissioned to design a product for mass manufacture was the Gello table in 1994. A mail-order product, the table needed to be ultra lightweight and easy to assemble. He designed the table in three very simple parts – the base opened out and circled back on itself to create a waisted, mushroom shaped form with a honeycomb structure, a piece of plastic tubing held it together and a vacuum formed polystyrene formed the top.

'Rock' doorstop by Marc Newson for Magis, 1997-1998.
‘Rock’ doorstop by Marc Newson for Magis, 1997-1998.

Since then Newson has designed for many large companies such as Alessi, Magis, Nike and Qantas. The Dish Doctor, the Rock doorstop and Hercules coat hanger were three products designed for Magis in 1997 and have been in production since 1998. This was Newson’s first major collaboration with a manufacturer on a project for mass-produced homewares.

'Zvezdochka' shoes designed by Marc Newson for Nike, 2004.
‘Zvezdochka’ shoes designed by Marc Newson for Nike, 2004.

Newson has been friends with head Apple designer Sir Jonathan Ive for many years and the two have collaborated a number of recent projects. Ive has had a substantial influence on the world of computers, music and phones. His designs including the iPod, iPhone, iPad and MacBook Pro are now on display in the exhibition Interface: people, machines, design at the Powerhouse Museum. In this exhibition you can further explore the Apple design story.

Apple iPod 5Gb 1st generation designed by Sir Jonathan Ive, 2001
Apple iPod 5Gb 1st generation designed by Sir Jonathan Ive, 2001

Ive and Newson have designed two products together already – a Leica camera and a sleek aluminium desk. I can’t wait to see the new concepts this design partnership will bring.

See the work of Marc Newson on display in the 2014 Good Design Awards exhibition, and the work of Jonathan Ive in Interface: people, machines, design  at the Powerhouse Museum.

Written by Angelique Hutchison, curator

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