Marc New­son is the de­sign ge­nius be­hind this €25,000 Fer­rari book

OK, it sounds like quite a lot of money, but it’s the same amount as a few car­bon bits on your 812, so really it’s good value...

Top Gear (Malaysia) - - The Ten -

Marc New­son is a man in com­mand of an as­tound­ing aes­thetic vi­sion. Projects in­clude the bot­tle for Hen­nessy’s XO, the pack­ag­ing for a Louis Vuit­ton fra­grance, Nike’s Va­por Max, and the beau­ti­ful At­mos 568 time­piece for JaegerLe Coul­tre. On this the mech­a­nism ap­pears to be float­ing in air, en­cased in Bac­carat crys­tal. New­son has sus­pended time it­self.

Now he’s done a book on Fer­rari. It’s a col­lab­o­ra­tion with Taschen. This is no or­di­nary pub­li­ca­tion, par­tic­u­larly if you fork out for the New­son-de­signed Art Edi­tion; pro­duced in a limited run of 250 ex­am­ples, each costs €25k.

“Benedikt [Taschen] wanted to do a book on Enzo Fer­rari, in the same vein as the one Taschen pro­duced on Muham­mad Ali,” New­son ex­plains. “It co­in­cided with Fer­rari’s 70th an­niver­sary, so it be­came broader in scope. I al­ways thought an ex­haust man­i­fold would make the most fantastic art piece. They’re in­her­ently sculp­tural, and I’d never seen it used in this con­text.

“It’s some­thing you could only really do with Taschen. No one else would en­ter­tain the idea of es­sen­tially cast­ing an en­gine block. I took the quin­tes­sen­tial Colombo V12 en­gine, re­pro­por­tioned it, and made the cam cov­ers open and close. We had to de­sign ev­ery com­po­nent, so it was com­pli­cated.”

Hav­ing trained in sculp­ture and jew­ellery de­sign, his ap­pre­ci­a­tion of sur­face form is ev­i­dent. An aviation en­thu­si­ast as well as a car lover, he ex­ploded onto the scene with the Nineties Lock­heed Lounge, a riv­eted chaise longue fab­ri­cated from alu­minium plates.

Only 10 were made (plus a few proofs and a pro­to­type), and it’s cur­rently the most valu­able piece of fur­ni­ture made by a liv­ing de­signer: a new record was set in 2015 when Phillips in Lon­don sold an ex­am­ple in auc­tion for £2.43m.

About half of his time is spent at Ap­ple. He won’t be drawn on ex­actly what he’s work­ing on right now, for ob­vi­ous rea­sons, but Ap­ple’s long-an­tic­i­pated automotive project, Ti­tan, is said to be firmly on hold. “I don’t know, I can’t say if the Ap­ple car is on or off,” New­son says.

He’s a car guy, though. He owns a Vig­nale­bod­ied Fer­rari 225 S and Bu­gatti Type 59, and had a Cisi­talia 202 MM but sold it (“ab­so­lutely beau­ti­ful to look at, but a bitch to drive”). In his youth, back in his na­tive Aus­tralia, he drove a Citroen DS. The great­est automotive de­sign ever? “It’s top 10 for me. I’d nom­i­nate the Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale. A Bu­gatti Type 59 from a purely aes­thetic point of view, the Lam­borgh­ini Miura of course, and so many Fer­raris. I felt like I started in the Seven­ties and just went back and back. Now I’m prop­erly pre-war, in love with Tal­bot-La­gos and De­la­hayes.”

Such is his re­verse jour­ney that he’s no fan of mod­ern car de­sign – or more ac­cu­rately the cor­po­rate cul­ture that it op­er­ates within. “The automotive world is too self-ref­er­en­tial, too my­opic. They don’t get out enough. We have a mod­ern car for the fam­ily, but I don’t drive it, I find it par­tic­u­larly soul-de­stroy­ing. I would pre­fer to take a taxi or walk, quite hon­estly.”

Even­tu­ally, he ad­mits to ad­mir­ing the Audi A2 and Volk­swa­gen’s XL1. Both are clever, quirky, and un­com­pro­mis­ing. He also rates the cur­rent Range Rover. “They’ve done an amaz­ing job of tak­ing own­er­ship of that space,” he says. But he’s really not happy.

“Hav­ing had the priv­i­lege of work­ing with Ap­ple, you can see how de­sign is con­ceived, how ideas are cre­ated. It’s a rar­ity in in­dus­try, be­cause most things are de­signed by the board.

One thing sets Ap­ple apart: they lead, they don’t fol­low. Ev­ery­one else fol­lows them.”

In­trigu­ingly, he’s only been in­volved in one automotive project, the still-cap­ti­vat­ing Ford 021C, un­veiled back at 1999’s Tokyo mo­tor show. Will there be more? It seems un­likely.

“Look, I don’t want to sound so dis­parag­ing, but I still feel there is a leap to be made. I’d haz­ard a guess and say that most automotive de­sign­ers really don’t have much clue what’s go­ing on in fash­ion. There needs to be more cross-ref­er­enc­ing, more con­tam­i­na­tion. It’s really clear to peo­ple like us be­cause we can look from the out­side in.”

‘I’m not say­ing peo­ple in the automotive world need to come and talk to me, but I think it would help if there was a broader frame of ref­er­ence. I’ve talked to Flavio [Man­zoni, Fer­rari’s de­sign vice pres­i­dent] about it, and he for one is open to hav­ing that di­a­logue. I ap­pre­ci­ate that the cre­atives in th­ese in­dus­tries are shack­led to an ex­tent, they’re work­ing for in­cred­i­bly hi­er­ar­chal com­pa­nies.”

Un­sur­pris­ingly, his ap­proach – and punchy opin­ions – have put him at log­ger­heads with the car de­sign world. “He has no idea just how dif­fi­cult it is,” one se­nior fig­ure told me. I ask New­son to de­fine his role.

“We’re prob­lem-solvers, guns for hire. If you can’t solve dif­fer­ent sorts of prob­lems, you’re not a good de­signer,” he replies. “If you were just mak­ing chairs day in and day out, you’d prob­a­bly be a great craftsper­son, but maybe not a great de­signer. I don’t see a fun­da­men­tal dif­fer­ence be­tween de­sign­ing a pen, bot­tle or boat. They’re all made of some­thing. They’re all per­form­ing a par­tic­u­lar func­tion, and the ob­jects them­selves are solv­ing prob­lems.”

“You’re left with learn­ing about ma­te­ri­als, pro­cesses, tech­nolo­gies, but those things could be ap­plied to any­thing. When I de­sign lug­gage, I’m in­spired by what I learned when I was work­ing for Nike. There’s a lot th­ese in­dus­tries can learn from each other, but few peo­ple make th­ese con­nec­tions be­cause they don’t have the op­por­tu­nity and they don’t iden­tify the op­por­tu­nity. But I do. I am a con­trol freak – that goes with­out say­ing. You have to be.”

On which note, Elon Musk is widely thought to be the clos­est the car in­dus­try has come to Ap­ple’s ex-chair­man, CEO and co-founder, Steve Jobs. As some­one who knew him, I ask New­son whether it’s a cult of per­son­al­ity thing.

“Tesla is as close as you’ll get to a dic­ta­tor­ship. There’s one guy there, de­cid­ing what he wants. It won’t hap­pen in the con­ven­tional power struc­tures. In terms of his sin­gu­lar­ity, there are some sim­i­lar­i­ties [be­tween them]. But in terms of taste, I’m not sure. Steve Jobs had a fantastic vi­sion and great taste. It’s a sub­jec­tive thing to talk about, but…” JA­SON BAR­LOW

Not con­tent with just tak­ing in­spi­ra­tion from aero­nau­ti­cal en­gi­neer­ing (for his Lock­heed Lounge chaise longue),New­son also de­signed a pri­vate jet in 2004, the Kelvin40,named af­ter the ab­so­lute zero guy

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