This week saw us watch a BBC documentary about the renowned, Australian Designer Marc Newson. A man who is famous for having had a go at designing nearly everything!
Before I get into anything here’s a quick wee sample of some of his work:
All the images are taken from Dezeen, who also made a 5 part film series with Newson about his work, so if you’d like to find out more about him check it out here!
Marc Newson’s work raises, yet again, the question- what is Great Design?
I have finally reached the conclusion that what we believe is Great Design is dependent on our expectations of design. It transpires that I like utilitarian design, that is I like things to have a purpose and I like them to full fill that purpose well. Ideally I would like all products to have both great aesthetic and function and what I dislike are products where the aesthetic has taken precedence over the function. To quote Simon Cowell, “It’s a no from me!”.
Another question this documentary raised was, at what point do you just start paying for a name, and I suppose in a way whether or not it’s ethical to set the price of a product so high just because the name of the designer is so recognisable? Are you paying for a great product or just a great name?
But then Newson himself is a very interesting character. As I mentioned at the start he has had a go at designing nearly everything from glasses and watches, to chairs, draining boards, surfboards and cars. When asked about it he says that a good designer should be able to design anything, they should be able to work out how all things work and thus design them. He also doesn’t seem keen on the practice of having multiple designers designing individual aspects of a whole, which I suppose I agree with. It is my greatest fear that one day I might end up working for a car company designing only wing mirrors for years on end. He rightly argues that this approach causes the final design to be a bit incoherent and messy. However its worth mentioning that for a number of these products he has designed only the aesthetic or interior and that the function of the products is largely down to someone else. This brings me back to my earlier question- when you buy a product by a well known designer, what are you really paying for?
It is my opinion that in general, Newson’s work is more akin to art than design. For example he is most well known for his chairs despite him admitting that few of them are actually comfortable to sit on. To me this makes them art. This makes them a product for display and not use, and for me that is the difference between Great Art and Great Design.