There are not many designers that have reached the iconic status that Marc Newson has. He is one of the world’s most celebrated industrial designers and among the many accolades he has received over the decades, last year he was even awarded a CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) by 
Her Majesty the Queen.

Born in Sydney, Newson has lived and worked all over the world. Although he is currently based in London, he travels widely, working with a diverse range of global brands and companies. He has designed everything from furniture, timepieces and bicycles to cars, household objects and even architectural projects. He is also currently the creative director of Qantas Airways.

Although Newson has been designing for close to 
30 years, he doesn’t feel that his approach to design has changed at all during that time. “I apply the same logic, the same design language and the same vocabulary to all the things I design – aeroplane, watch, car, clothing or a bathroom range,” he says.

“For me, it’s exactly the same thing – I look at the piece as an object that needs to be designed and set out to make it an innovative and beautiful improvement to what already exists. Preferably using new technologies, materials and processes along the way – and pushing the boundaries. I think of myself as a gun for hire – a problem solver of design puzzles."

One of his most recent projects is a bathroom collection for Australia’s foremost bathroom fixtures designer and manufacturer Caroma. This high-end bathroom range consists of a full family of bathroom products, 
including tapware, toilets and baths. “Being Australian, 
I appreciate that this iconic brand has been part of our bathroom history for many decades. It made perfect sense for me to become involved,” says Newson.

“I knew about Caroma introducing a number of water-saving innovations, including the world’s first two-button dual-flush toilet. It also interested me that it has a substantial market share in New Zealand and parts of South-East Asia and a growing presence in the US.”

However, this isn’t the first time that Newson has designed a bathroom collection. In 2003, he designed for Ideal Standard, but he felt somewhat frustrated after this experience due to the large company’s geographical disorganisation and lack of attention to marketing, so he was keen to have another stab at it.

“This time, with Caroma, I felt really excited and optimistic about the collaboration,” he comments. “Caroma is the absolute antithesis of a huge, disjointed company. It is very nimble, very reactive and on top of the technology. It’s the perfect sized company 
to work for, forward thinking and has an excellent product range.”

Newson’s goal was to create a product that can be delivered to the installer with clear, precise instructions for installation, allowing for a clean attachment to the wall without the typical flange meant to hide ‘shoddy’ workmanship. “It’s all about the lowest common denominator, rather than trying to design a foolproof solution that will look precise and well integrated,” 
he explains.

The partnership also had the right mix with Newson’s flair for innovative design and Caroma’s high-quality engineering and production capabilities. “I believe it is vital that a client appreciates the need to embrace design as a way of defining their brand and commanding a large market share. If they do, then we 
basically start on the same page – and Caroma certainly does. We have had a very enjoyable and productive relationship.”

Although Newson wanted to disguise complex 
engineering and functionality behind a minimalist 
exterior, there were a few challenges along the way. 
“I hate mixer tap designs because they’re all the same. It irritates me how the archetypal Vola mixer has been just so shamelessly ripped off. I wanted to move away from that, which is really difficult, especially given that the main internal component in all mixers 
is more or less identical.”

Newson is happy with the entire bathroom collection, 
however, there are two features that particularly stand out for him – one is the bath and the other is the hand-held shower. “The hand-held shower with its rail doubling-up as a valve for the water hook-up is a feature that seems self-evident, but is, in fact, an innovation that is really pleasing,” he comments.

Now with a second bathroom collection to add to the long list of products Newson has created, is there anything left that he’d still really like to have a go at designing? “What would really give me a buzz would be to design something for use in space – perhaps a space station …” 

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