Marc Newson confirms his star designer status



At just 46, Marc NEWSON already has pieces in prestigious public collections such as the Vitra Design Museum, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburg and the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. Among the 30 or so awards he has received since the 1980s, he won the famous Compasso d’oro in 2000, and over the last decade his price index has literally exploded making him the most expensive living designer on the international auction circuit. In 2009 his very limited editions continued to produce excellent auction results. While his secondary market prices reach new heights, Newson is supported in New York by the Gagosian gallery (whose protégés include Jeff KOONS and which organised Newson’s first solo exhibition in the United States in 2007) and in Paris by the Kreo gallery where Didier Krzentowski is preparing a catalogue raisonné of his limited editions.

In 2009, Newson’s Lockheed Lounge LC1 has once again rocked the design market. It started its auction career on 16 May, 2000 when a fortunate buyer bought one for $90,000 against a high estimate of $60,000 at Christie’s in New York. Six years later, on 14 June 2006, a prototype of the Lockheed Lounge fetched 864 300$ at Sotheby’s, making Newson the world’s most expensive living designer. Then, the following year, the same work fetched a new record sum of £650,000 ($1.32m) at Christie’s in London (14 October 2007) and on 30 April this year Phillips de Pury & Company re-confirmed the “over $1m” price of this famous riveted chaise longue in aluminium and fibre glass. Shown on the cover of the catalogue and carrying a reasonable price range of £500,000 to £700,000, the piece fetched a final bid of £950,000 (approx. $1.4m) setting a new record for the designer and generating almost half of the sale’s total revenue. And yet…. in 1985, Newson had difficulty producing ten Lockheed Lounge chaise-longue and the just-graduated prodigy designer struggled to sell them for around £1,000 each. Twenty-four years later, Newson’s global notoriety and the very high level of demand for his work have multiplied his initial prices by almost a thousand and the April 30 sale at Phillips de Pury & Company clearly confirmed Newson’s current “first-choice” status with star pieces by Ron ARAD and Zaha HADID being bought in at the same sale. Apart from his latest auction record, Newson’s Komed wall lights have also generated a series of auction surprises fetching twice their initial estimates at £50,000 (73 590$).

During the 80’s, when Newson was developing the base of his aesthetic vocabulary (metallic finishes, biomorphic and futurist shapes) with the Lockheed lounge, he also created his Pod of Drawers in homage to the anthropomorphic forms of André GROULT’s precious shagreen-sheathed chiffonier (1925). In April 2009, Christie’s offered a version of the Pod of Drawers in London. The piece fetched £300,000 ($446,000), a mediocre result when compared to the $900,000 fetched for a version of the same work in 2007 at Christie’s.

Alongside the multitude of mass-produced industrial objects offered on the auction market at between $500 and $5,000 (tables and chairs essentially), Newson’s limited series express the acuity of his sculptural vision with even greater intensity. His Extruded tables, Extruded chairs and his Voronoi Shelf, cut from blocks of Carrare marble are perfect examples of this vision. These works have not, as yet, been offered on the secondary market.