‘Event Horizon’ table, circa 1992
NEWSON’S MOST FAMOUS work is his sleek and sinuous ‘Lockheed Lounge’, dated 1988, which broke all records for a work by a contemporary designer when an example sold for £2,434,500 at Phillips London in April 2015. But it is the ‘Event Horizon’ table of 1992 which truly represents the apotheosis of his early ambitions. The ‘Lockheed Lounge’ brought a new formal language to design: neither austere minimalism nor rampant, colourful, post-modernism – but a sensuous machine-logic all of its own. The riveted patched aluminium skin of the lounge, however, impeded its achievement of frictionless perfection.
For ‘Event Horizon’ Newson worked with a team of coachbuilders at an Aston Martin restoration firm outside London. Focused entirely on working in aluminium to achieve maximum aerodynamism and visual allure, the team were able to create the illusion of a seamless malleable skin, from which they shaped this extraordinary space-age table, with its fluid curves and contoured funnel legs. Talking at the time about the technicians’ abilities to realise his vision, Newson said, “They work metal as if it were a piece of fabric or plasticine. What you see in the end is this incredibly sensual and refined object.”
The table’s name hints at his inspirations. Fascinated by speed, sci-fi and space travel since watching the moon landings as a small boy, Newson here achieves a fusion of design with advanced automotive technology and quantum geometry. The ‘Event Horizon’ is the boundary of a black-hole, a region of spacetime where gravity is so strong no matter, light, or radiation can escape from it. Most of the ten examples and three artist’s proofs are polished aluminium on the outside, with the mysterious interior, as if it represented a different dimension, coated in deep ‘Ferrari’ red enamel paint. This unique version, up for sale in Christie’s online sale, ‘Creating Space: Design Online’, closing on 2nd June, is painted sunshine yellow with a black interior, like an imploding star.
The creative breakthrough of ‘Event Horizon’ table led Newson to produce a suite of polished and enamelled aluminium furniture – ‘Orgone Chair’, ‘Orgone Stretch Chair’ and the ‘Alufelt Chair’ – all exhibited at Milan in the ‘Wormhole’ exhibition, in 1994. Design writer Nicholas Foulkes once teasingly commented, “The Event Horizon’s subsequent fame has endowed it with a mystique that belies its reality as a surfboard on legs.” But, oh, what a surfboard.
Creating Space: Design Online runs from 19th May until 2nd June.
Marc Newson – has worked across an extremely wide range of disciplines, and his clients include some of the best-known and most prestigious brands in the world spanning diverse sectors from manufacturing and technology to transportation, fashion, and the luxury goods sector.