At the Design Day Auction yesterday at Phillips in London, a record-breaking sale confirmed the continued popularity of Australian designer and Apple exec Marc Newson. His Lockheed Lounge, a riveted aluminum and fiberglass chaise designed in a limited series of 15, bested lots from other big-name designers, fetching $3.7 million from an anonymous buyer. That's not just a personal best for Newson, who had already seen million-dollar buys for his streamlined furniture; it's a sales record for a living designer at auction.
The Lockheed Lounge exemplifies the Aussie designer's amorphous, futuristic aesthetic. Initially built in 1990, the curvaceous form was inspired by earlier Newson designs, specifically the LC1 from 1985, which he designed at age 23, shortly after graduating the Sydney College of the Arts. While the name of this lounge was derived from Le Corbusier's LC4, the shape was loosely inspired by a chaise lounge found in the 1800 portrait of Juliette Récamier by French painter Jacques-Louis David.
When he saw the painting, Newson decided that he wanted to create a fluid form, or "globule of mercury." To achieve this shape, he literally cut out the first polyurethane foam prototype in his garden with an electric kitchen knife, akin to the way one would carve out a surfboard. Since he couldn't laminate the piece with a single sheet of aluminum, he decide to beat sheets of metal around the base and connect them with rivets, which gave the piece the look of aircraft from the famed American manufacturer. The first chair was displayed at the Seating for Six show at Sydney's Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, selling for $3,000.
The sofa that just sold for the world record-breaking price was number 10 in a series of 10 made by Newson's POD design company (the other five Lockheed Lounges in existence include four proofs and a prototype). While million-dollar chairs are out of the reach of most of us, there's always the miniature version at the Vitra Design Museum Shop. But, you're not missing much as far as comfort goes. During a BBC interview, Newson admitted "they're not really meant to be comfortable."
·Auction Record for Living Designer Set at Phillips [Phillips Auction House]
·Newson's Lockheed Lounge breaks world auction records [The Telegraph]
·Previous Marc Newson coverage [Curbed]
·Previous Furniture coverage [Curbed]