Ive, who is largely responsible for such products as the iPod, the iPhone, and the MacBook Air, is almost at the other end of the design spectrum when it comes to Newson’s work. Away from the minimalistic cool of Apple, Marc has designed a wide range of colourful and futuristic products, spanning the likes of the Ford 021C Concept Car (sadly never put into production), the Atmos 566 Clock, curvaceous furniture and aeroplane interiors.
However, what links the two of them is a fundamentally similar philosophy of design. Bordering on obsessive, each of them looks much further than the surface of a product and into the materials, the physical process, and the craft involved. It is this drive and passion that prompted mutual friend Bono to involve them in an auction to benefit Product (RED), the charitable brand that raises awareness and funds to help eliminate HIV/AIDS in Africa.
Ive and Newson have selected more than 40 objects (also designing and making 2 of them) for the auction. It’s taken over 18months to curate the collection as neither of them is keen to compromise on any aspect of their work, and the pieces designed and selected for the (Red) auction have been chosen as a representation of products that also demonstrate this.
It’s like finishing the back of a drawer. Nobody’s going to see it, but you do it anyway. Products are a form of communication—they demonstrate your value system, what you care about.
All the items can be seen on the Sotheby’s site, and whilst there are some truly exquisite pieces (Stormtrooper helmet or solid rose gold Apple earbuds, anyone?) there are definitely a few real stand out items for me.
“Valentine” Typewriter (Ettore Sottsass)
Vintage Hi-Fi System (Dieter Rams)
Parlor Grand Model A Piano (Steinway & Sons)
Atmos 561 by Marc Newson Clock (Jaeger-LeCoultre)
The (RED) Desk (Jony Ive and Marc Newson)
Digital Rangefinder Camera (Leica)
One of the most intriguing items is the one of a kind special edition Leica Digital Rangefinder. Designed specifically for the auction as a unique, one-off item. It took 55 engineers 2,149 hours to make, with the process including 947 prototype parts and 561 models before the design was completed. Then there was the mere 50 hours it took an engineer just to assemble the product!
It is this process ofunwavering attention to detail that epitomises Ive and Newson. To be perfectly frank I’d expect nothing less from the two of them.
Although Sotheby’s estimate it to have an upper limit of $750,000, Ive believes the Leica alone could fetch $6million, representing a bold new era in which design is as valued and as highly regarded as art has been for hundreds of years.
I found it a very odd and unusual thing to put this amount of love and energy into one thing, where you are only going to make one, but isn’t it beautiful?
The auction kicks off at Sotheby’s New York on November 23 and it will be very interesting to see how people value these carefully curated and designed wares.