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Design Excellence with Marc Newson

As part of the Design Excellence Forum for the City of Sydney’s Green, Global, Connected initiative, Marc Newson spoke to journalist Jenny Brockie.

Design Excellence with Marc Newson


June 23rd, 2011

Although now based in London, Marc Newson will always be Sydney’s own.

Later this year he will collaborate with the Sydney New Year’s Eve creative team to produce the 2011 New Year’s Eve celebrations – a project he describes as “a bit of a dream come true.”

Newson sat down with SBS journalist Jenny Brockie to speak about his inspiration and design philosophy.

On his prolific output:

I consider myself a ’gun for hire’. Working across such a broad range of disciplines is for me what a designer is supposed to do. I don’t see a fundamental difference between designing an aircraft interior or a watch – different material, different scale, but you’re dealing philosophically with the same kinds of problems.


On his philosophy:

[I have] a desire to want to make things better and the desire to create things that have a sense of longevity, sense of quality – not designing landfill… if I can avoid it. I love the idea of designing something that as a consumer you can have one of for the rest of your life, and it will work forever. I don’t really like the idea of disposability.


On his inspiration:

I get inspiration from materials and processes and technology; in the world of design and in the creative world in general there’s a large emphasis placed on being new, being original. One of the ways I’ve identified of being original – it is very hard to be original, let’s face it, at the end of the day it’s not easy – but bringing one technology or processes from one industry into another is a good way of being original.


On design in Australia:

The design business when I was growing up wasn’t like Scandinavia or Italy or other parts of Europe; there wasn’t really much of industry so you were kind of forced to do things yourself. That was a really wonderful training.

I think a city of Sydney clearly values design; yes there are other cities that do as well but not surprisingly not that many in my experience that champion design. But one of the great things about design is that it is truly an international industry and it cuts all geographical boundaries, so I don’ t know if I could identify an Australian design style. For me it’s truly international. It’s a new industry that suits a place like Sydney. It suits the Australian mentality – Australia’s a young place, it’s a young business.

(L-R): Brockie, Marc Newson and City of Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore

(L-R): Brockie, Newson and City of Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore.

On sustainability:

Sustainability is obviously unbelievably important. It’s unavoidable for design, and designers have a unique opportunity to champion doing things in a sustainable way. As I said before, the best way that I can be sustainable is not to design landfill. To design really high quality that people won’t want to get rid of; that people cherish and form an emotional connection with, and can love and pass down. I realise that’s obviously very idealistic but I do think design rather than choosing to work with recycled materials – which of course we do, that’s a given – really being a bit more intelligent about what we design.

Want to catch a Q&A with Marc Newson? Have a read here.

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