Marc Newson, Cloisonné Blue Chair, 2017, cloisonné enamel and copper, 26 1/8 × 40 1/4 × 37 1/4 inches (66.5 × 102.1 × 94.6 cm) © Marc Newson
Few practitioners have occupied the common ground of design and art with such conviction as Newson, for whom the discipline of industrial design presents an inexhaustible opportunity to explore new ways of thinking about form and function, materials and production. Over the past thirty-plus years, he has applied his original vision and technical mastery to innovative items of furniture, from the iconic Lockheed Lounge (1986), which he built by hand from aluminium sections to emulate the world-renowned aircraft, to Extruded Tables and Voronoi Shelf (both 2007), each carved in one piece from a block of marble. The current presentation includes works from several recent series—the Chinese cloisonné, as well as the cast glass and Murrina works produced in the former Czech Republic—all entirely new formal experiments.
The cloisonné works, produced by hand in Beijing, employ on an unprecedented scale the intricate enamelling technique more often used for figurines and vases, applying it to copper chairs, lounges, and desks in diverse allover patterning, including traditional Chinese peony motifs and a signature amoebic “orgone” design. In using this method, Newson reveals his training as a silversmith and watchmaker, as well as his wide-ranging aesthetic interests and love of nuanced colour.
Newson’s cast glass chairs are comprised of pairs of hollow quarter-spheres; each richly coloured upper half rests on a cloudy, translucent base that reflects and refracts its hue. Dense and elemental, these pared-down objects hint at a broader narrative of craft techniques hovering on the brink of obsolescence. Consistent with his evolved and distinctive aesthetic, they possess a biomorphic quality in their suggestion of eyes or sea creatures. Paradoxically, these deceptively simple forms are the result of time-consuming manufacture, each spending up to six months in the kiln.
Three works from the Murrina series apply a general approach to three different formats: a console, a desk, and a low table. Manufactured using an artisanal Venetian technique usually reserved for small objects, whereby glass rods are heated and fused together before being sliced open to reveal densely patterned cross-sections, these streamlined items of furniture combine sleek outer surfaces with vivid internal colouration and hint at cellular and other biological structures. In this series—and throughout this presentation—Newson again exercises his exploratory boldness, breathing new life into materials and methods identified with other times and places and inserting them into a contemporary context to unique and striking effect.
February 13–March 15, 2020 Tarmak 22, Gstaad Saanen Airport, Switzerland
About The Artist
Marc Newson was born in 1963 in Sydney, and lives and works in London. Collections include the Museum of Modern Art, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Design Museum, London; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Museum Angewandte Kunst, Frankfurt, Germany; Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, Netherlands; and National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. Solo exhibitions include Bucky: De la chimie au design, Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris (1995); Design Works, Powerhouse Museum, Sydney (2001); Design Museum, London (2004); Kelvin 40, Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris (2004); Groninger Museum, Groningen, Netherlands (2004); and At Home, Philadelphia Museum of Art (2013). Newson is chair of the International Design Council at the Design Museum, London. In 2012, he was appointed a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.