Designer dazzles with MacBook Pro MX1 concept [Setups]


Designer Antonio De Rosa uses his setup to render Apple products and more.
Designer Antonio De Rosa uses his setup to render Apple products and more.
Photo: Antonio De Rosa

Designer and concept artist Antonio De Rosa came out with a drop-dead gorgeous rendering of a 16-inch MacBook Pro with an MX1 chip earlier this week that Cult of Mac reported on as a look at something possibly close to the real thing, based on recent leaks and rumors.

A substantially modified 16-inch MBP could be announced as soon as the Worldwide Developers Conference keynote on June 7.

As for the designer of the speculative Apple concept, we decided to chat him up, much like we did recently with another render-master we know.

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De Rosa, 45, lives in Bangkok, Thailand, with his partner, Nara, and a cat named Momo. He originally hailed from Cava de’ Tirreni, a small town in southern Italy. His said his father, a bricklayer, taught him to work hard and respect people.

But who taught him how to make super-cool 3D renderings of yet-to-be-released Apple products?

Well, read on. He’s an Italian who’s into Formula One (F1), so it’s a good bet Ferrari figures into it somehow. The interview has been lightly edited for clarity.

Q: What are your favorite Apple concepts you worked on, and why?

A: There are lots of concepts I made, in my personal opinion, that have been underrated. Generally, my approach is not just to create something copying from the rumors or leaks. I want my concepts could be realized and have a personal touch.

Everything started in 2007, but one of my best ones is the Apple iWatch for sure, back in 2010. I designed it four years before the idea of an Apple iWatch could barely come to mind. And let me think that someone in Cupertino maybe took a look at that one….

Q: Regarding the 16-inch M1X MacBook Pro, how would you describe the importance of the expected new elements, in terms of functionality and their expression through design?

A: Creating a concept for an Apple product is like when you play in a cover band, and you will play the solo of David Gilmour in “Comfortably Numb”: The fan will expect you to replicate that tone by tone, pattern by pattern.

I tried to approach this concept by collecting the leaks and figuring out how it could be … personal. Take a look, for example, at the USB-C MagSafe, a special port that you can use both for a USB-C device or with the special charging cable. Or the Face ID, Touch ID … this machine will be a [cornerstone] for the Apple Silicon production, and as concept creator you need to treat it with respect :)

This is a 2021 16-inch MacBook Pro concept, not a leak. As the concept shows, the upcoming 16-inch MacBook Pro could be first with an Apple M1X chip
As the concept shows, the upcoming 16-inch MacBook Pro could be first with an Apple M1X chip.
Concept: Antonio De Rosa

Q: How did you get into this type of concept work/renderings? What other work have you done?

A: I started to work on graphics when I was 17, doing graphics for video games on my Amiga, pixel by pixel. I always had a passion for drawing; in the early years, especially in cars. I drew hundreds of them. Some really ugly, others perhaps still valid now.

I like motorsport, especially in F1, where there’s a design and engineering mix, a field where if you had a valid idea, you can make the difference, help a driver to catch his victory.

A year before high school, I thought about a trick to have a double-bottom on an F1 car. I drew something and sent the drawings to Scuderia Ferrari and some magazines.

A few months later, happy as never been before, I received a letter from Maranello in which they greeted me, attaching some autographed photos of the 1991 drivers. In the meantime, the magazines published the same drawings. For a teenager, that was already a great moment.

When 1992 arrives, and Ferrari revealed the F92A, I was pretty amazed. It was the first F1 … with a double bottom. It was of course a beautiful and lucky coincidence, but [amused] me. The Ferrari CEO of that time wrote me back a letter where he admitted a few common points between my project and the ’92 car, but this happened because the chief designer and I had the same intuition.

So, I decided to believe in my talent to think out of the box. After a master’s degree in communication and marketing, I started to work as a professional graphic designer and art director.

Actually, I’m working with plenty of customers worldwide about graphics, marketing, design and communication, but I always have my passions: guitar and industrial design :)

Q: As a fellow guitar guy, I (and our readership) must know: What guitars do you have?

A: To be clear: I’m a guitar lover, I play really basic :) I’m not a guitarist. Unfortunately I lost a guitar set in a robbery in my house in Italy so I tried to rebuild. I’ve a Squier Stratocaster, two Telecasters, one Yamaha acoustic and one Epiphone SG.

The ones they stole were a perfect replica of the David Gilmour Black Strat with a copy of the strap he used, a Telecaster hollow body, another Tele and also a Gibson DG-335 Dave Grohl (a Chinese one).

Q: Tell us about the gear in your computer setup.

A: Easy to answer :) I bought a MacBook Pro M1 a few months ago, 16GB RAM and 1TB HD. I’m using a Xiaomi Curved Monitor 34 [inches] as the main monitor connected through a special Ugreen 4K hub with 2TB SSD M.2, a Logitech MX Keys [keyboard] for my typos, and a Synology DS220J NAS to reach all my files when I’m out of office.

To sketch, and when I’m on a rush outside, I’ve my faithful iPad Pro 11 inch. As a backup machine, I have an MSI P65 Creator with 64GB RAM when I render. To do my job, I need (good) music that flows through my Creative Pebble V3 [speakers].

I design all my concepts with a mix of Shapr 3D and Maxon Cinema 4D, and Redshift. The Adobe suite [helps] for final touches and editing as well. I sketch in 2D rarely.

When the idea comes to my mind, the first thing I do is to grab Shapr 3D. It helps me work in mobility [because] I can sketch on my iPad and, thanks to M1, continue my work on the same app on my MacBook Pro. Then Maxon Cinema kicks in: I use it to add details, explore the mechanics, the environment, prepare the rendering set, and so on.

Usually, I never use Photoshop to add something to my renderings, like extra shadow or reflexes. I do that only when there’s a specific need to tell the story. Adobe Premiere is used to create my video and reels about the concepts.

A tighter shot of the setup shows the 16-inch M1X MacBook Pro concept onscreen, alongside De Rosa's M1 MBP.
A tighter shot of the setup shows the 16-inch M1X MacBook Pro concept onscreen, alongside De Rosa’s M1 MBP.
Photo: Antonio De Rosa

Q: How is your setup well-suited to what you do? What issues did this setup solve for you and how?

A: I’m pretty satisfied with my setup, and it took me a while to put everything in the pipeline to let my creativity flow. Since the main unit is a MacBook Pro M1, I can also be productive on the run, either if I stay in Bangkok or another city.

Q: What do you like and dislike about your setup?

A: macOS allows me to make everything fast and smooth. Actually, the only thing that I didn’t like is the 16GB of memory of my MacBook Pro, but I guess I will figure it out soon …

Q: Fill us in on any special touches you’ve added or items you realized you couldn’t live without.

A: I guess my Nomad Base Station Pro, where I literally throw my AirPod or my iPhone for fast charging and, of course, my coffee machine just on the right side of my gear.

Q: What challenges did you face getting to where you are now with your setup?

A: Sometimes it’s expensive to get some piece in Thailand, and you need to order overseas, praying that the customs duties are worth the time and struggling. Anyway, since I travel a lot due to my job, for me it was important to have something I can replicate or move easily.

Q: If you’re not quite done with your setup, what’s left to do? Looking forward to new equipment?

A: At this moment, I’m eager for RAM and (always) more GPU power. I’m an Apple fan, so I’m waiting for the new MacBook Pro to fill this gap.

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