Taking the Oru Kayak for a ride. Photo: Buster Hein/Cult of Mac
I consider myself to be “the adventurous type” but I’ve never once kayaked, thanks to two big hurdles: I live in the desert, and I drive a tiny Fiat that barely fits four grown humans in its cramped interior.
Water activities in these parts of Arizona require a gas-guzzling truck and a garage big enough to store your boats, putting kayaking out of reach for most urban dwellers. Oru Kayak destroys both those necessities with a foldable boat that’s strong enough to take on a lake or river, while also compacting into a box small enough to fit in your closet.
Before the Oru Kayak glided into my life, my go-to outdoor activity was hiking. Point me to a waterfall 15 miles away in the desert and even if that AZ ‘dry heat’ was boiling the tar on the highway, I was totally there. Now that there’s a boat that fits in my car, everything’s changed.
While some may see Xiaomi, Samsung, and other players in the smartphone race as iPhone copycats, Jony Ive sees it as downright “theft.” That was the clear takeaway from Ive’s interview at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit today.
Apple’s new design guru Marc Newson has barely been at Apple for nearly a month now, but that’s not going to stop him from also working on his own designs – like a fabulous new way to pour yourself a draft beer at home.
Marc unveiled his revolutionary new beer machine today in partnership with Heineken, but in an interview with Deezer, the famed designer also talked publicly for the first time about his new role at Apple, stating the position will only be part-time and he’ll still be based out of the U.K.
What Marc’s actually doing at Apple though is still a mystery. Apple’s PR handler wouldn’t let him comment on whether he had a hand in the Apple Watch’s design, and speculation on what he’s working on with Jony was quickly shot down. Whatever Apple does throw at him though, Marc said he can handle it, because “there isn’t really a big difference between designing a watch or a car or even a machine that pours beer.”
Perhaps the most surprising thing about Apple’s reveal on Tuesday of their first smartwatch was that it was square.
Many of us were expecting something that was at least curved, if not round: a more traditional watch form factor that represented an evolutionary step away from the square displays Apple has embraced since the original Apple I.
Of course, as we all know, the Apple Watch is boxy, at least for now. But as these renders show, the Apple Watch design and UI would work just as well, if not more so, in a round casing, with a round display.
Apple Watch's Milanese Loop strap is identical to that of the Ikepod Solaris.
The Ikepod Megapod's stainless steel bracelet appears to have inspired Apple's Link Bracelet.
Apple Watch's Link Bracelet also shares the same clasp design as the Megapode.
Apple's Sport Band is identical to the Ikepod Hemipode's rubber strap in almost every way.
They don't just share the same buckle, either.
Both straps look identical when closed.
Apple Watch's Leather Loop strap looks like it may have been inspired by the Ikepod Seaslug's strap.
The Apple Watch looks far more elegant than the rectangular smartwatches we’ve already seen from competing companies, but we couldn’t help noticing that some of its straps look a little… familiar.
In fact, several of Apple’s new strap designs look almost identical to straps from luxury watchmaker Ikepod, which not so coincidentally used to be run by Marc Newson, an Australian industrial designer who recently became a part of Apple’s design team.
Who, exactly, is Marc Newson, the rock-star designer just hired by Apple?
We know he pals around with Apple design chief Jony Ive and that he's created some pretty amazing watches (and hourglasses) for Ikepod. And that the design world is buzzing about what he might do with the iWatch and other futuristic Apple devices.
Born in Sydney, Australia, in 1963, Newson spent much of his time abroad in Europe and Asia. As a child, he said he was "entranced by the space-age utopia of The Jetsons, the early 1960s television cartoon about a family who zipped around in personal aerocars."
Want to know more? Of course you do. Here's a telling look at some of the most impressive designs in Newson's stunning portfolio.
While studying sculpture and jewelry at the Sydney College of the Arts, Newson used a grant from the Australian Crafts Council to fashion the Lockheed Lounge, which rocketed him to worldwide attention in 1986.
This "fluid metallic form, like a giant blob of mercury" was based "loosely, very loosely" on the 18th-century chaise longues he had seen in French paintings. To build it, he spent "several miserable months" hammering hundreds of aluminum panels onto a handmade fiberglass mold. The riveted recliner has set three consecutive world records at auction, last changing hands for $1.6 million.
After Newson moved to London, he dug into a proto-steampunk aesthetic with Pod of Drawers, allegedly fashioning this iconic piece from materials pilfered from his day job at an industrial workshop. It features hand-beaten and cut aluminum panels riveted to a fiberglass structure that's fitted with five drawers and sports painted wood feet.
Further exploring the idea of the chair, Newson went all soft with this groundbreaking Embryo design for Italian design house Cappellini in 1988. He has said this was the first piece where he felt he had developed a discernible style. The fluid lines and innovative take (the original was covered in wetsuit material) would become signatures of his work.
A lot of things from the '80s have fallen out of fashion (leg warmers, anyone?) but you can still snap up one of these in five colors for $5,462.
The peripatetic designer departed for Paris next, where he scrambled for commissions until he almost starved. The $20,000 he got for designing this Shiseido perfume bottle went to indulge a passion he shares with Jony Ive: He bought an Aston Martin DB4 and roared around town to drown out the hunger pangs.
The elegant perfume bottle was Newson's first foray into mass consumer products, but he went on to craft eyeglasses, bicycles, cars, watches, doorstops, private and commercial aircraft and even yachts.
"The thing that has always driven me as a designer," Newson once said, "is feeling pissed off by the shitty stuff around me and wanting to make it better." He turned his hand to designing watches with these sleek "pod watches" in the late '80s and later co-founded watchmaker Ikepod in 1994 with Swiss entrepreneur Oliver Ike.
Newson spent almost a year in Italy's car capital, Turin, designing the 021C concept car for Ford Ghia. When it launched, he said he "wanted it to possess the simplicity and directness and freshness of a child’s drawing of a car." The original was a dark, rusty orange and the seats swivel — much like his chairs.
Newson launched his career in the airline biz with Qantas in 2002, designing the revolutionary SkyBed and winning praise in the form of the Australian Design Award and The Chicago Athenaeum Good Design Award.
His collaboration with Qantas helped him snag both those awards again in 2009, along with the Conde Nast Traveller Innovation & Design Award for the interiors of the Airbus 380.
The friendly skies were the backdrop for Newson's work once again with the concept jet Kelvin40, commissioned by Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain in 2004. "If I hadn't quit college, I would have become an aeronautics engineer," Newson said.
That same year, he was the subject of a survey exhibit at London's Design Museum. His work has been featured in design museums around the world, from the Vitra to the Victoria and Albert Museum.
In 2012, Newson was awarded the CBE for services to design in the United Kingdom and worldwide. When asked what objects bugged him the most, he replied: “Ninety-nine percent of all cars. Ninety-nine percent of all sneakers. Ninety-nine percent of all cellphones. Ninety-nine percent of all door handles."
Apple just lured one of the top designers in the world onto the mothership, and it just so happens that he’s a genius at designing timepieces.
Marc Newson created the luxury watch company Ikepod in the mid-’90s, pushing out gorgeous timepieces with unique, simplified form factors and made from unconventional materials. It took other watchmakers years to catch up with his work. Newson hasn’t been involved with the company for more than two years, but he’s also dabbled in jewelry design, with a necklace based on fractal theory, as well as Atmos clocks bigger than a Mac Pro.
In a rare interview with Dezeen, Newson offers insight into his career of building time pieces, from sketching concepts in the ’80s to setting trends that watchmakers are still emulating today. This is the future of Apple design.
Designed in collaboration with Steve Jobs by Norman Foster, the new Infinite Loop has Apple fans excited… but not architects. Informally polling a group of 6,000 architects around the world gathered for a South African conference, Fortune’s Philip Elmer DeWitt discovered that, by and large, the professionals he encountered hated Apple’s new Spaceship Campus.
But DeWitt reminds us all that Steve Jobs is no newcomer to architecture. He designed Pixar’s headquarters personally, and it’s a design that has resulted in some of the most creative cinema to come out of Hollywood in the last generation.
The new Mac Pro, with its sleek cylinder design, has gotten a bad rap. While it’s light-years from the bulky, ugly first-generation Mac Pro and “built for creativity on an epic scale,” this ingenious machine, which Apple sells for between $2,999 and $3,999, looks like a common waste receptacle.
The much-trashed design recently got some love from architect Takara Maru, who carved out a spot on this sleek walnut desk for it. Some might joke that it’s to shield users from the Mac Pro’s looks, but really the aim is to reduce clutter on the desk surface so Maru can focus on home design.