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.
This scrappy work fetched more than $1 million the last time it went on the auction block.
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.
Photo: Sheila Thompson/Flickr
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.
Photo: Marc Newson.com
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.
Photo: London Design Museum
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.
Photo: MN Aerospace
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.
Photo: Marc Newson.com
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."
Above is his luxe bathtub, part of a 22-piece line for Caroma, which earned him the 2014 Good Design Award.