Conceived as a suite together with the Event Horizon centre table, the Orgone Stretch Lounge and the companion Orgone Chair both refined the characteristic hourglass form of Newson's earlier creations, the Lockheed Lounge and the Pod Cabinet of 1985-1989. Whilst these important, experimental precedents aspired to seamlessness – ‘a liqueous lump of metal like a blob of mercury’ (Marc Newson, Blueprint, February 1994, p. 31) – the limitations of this ambitious aspiration could only be resolved by surfaces of beaten and riveted aluminium sheets wrapped over the fibreglass structure.
The Lockheed and the Pod were important precedents, and were swiftly acclaimed as initiating a new dialogue in design. It was, however, with the 1993 Orgone series that Newson was to make tangible his dream of seamlessness. He appropriated techniques of rolling, hammering and welding sheet aluminium from the bespoke automobile industries, employing the services of Bodylines, an Aston Martin subsidiary coach-maker, in Newport Pagnell, just north of London. This allowed him to create a durable form with minimal substance. Newson was not the first to explore the properties of aluminium for furniture production, however his monocoque structures represented a departure from all precedents. The hand-worked craftsmanship involved in delivering the Orgone Stretch Lounge demonstrates that Newson’s objective was never mass-production but rather to experiment with the medium and to achieve a form that celebrated perfection.
Formally, the contrasting dialogue between smoothed reflective surfaces and the captivating red-enamelled voids offers an intangibility of substance that has evolved as one of the keystones of Newson's design vocabulary. Whilst the form has volume and occupies space it also contains space and emphasises the void within. There is an ambiguous exchange of exterior versus interior, of the hand-polished reflective surface with a brightly lacquered interior. The colour highlights the importance of the interior space, whilst the exterior mirrors the surrounding environment to the point of invisibility.
The concept of this series was part-inspired by the universal life force – 'Orgone' – hypothesised by the psychoanalyst William Reich who employed a booth or capsule-like device in which he positioned his patients to absorb this force, which he believed would restore psychological well-being. Newson’s sensual curvaceous hour-glass form and infinite apertures pay homage to Reich’s philosophy, which during the 1960s had gained further traction through the American Beat writers. Newson’s deference towards Pop space-age styling may be further contextualised by his reverence for the Ken Adam-designed sets for the James Bond films, and by Kubrick’s interiors from the film 2001 – A Space Odyssey that he had so admired in his youth.
The desire to create an organic biomorphic form is a persistent theme of Newson’s work communicated through every aspect of his craft, from the Lockheed, Pod, the Embryos and the Buckys, and remains tangible in his current work as both product designer and interior architect. Significantly, one must also acknowledge Newson’s respect for the ebbs and tides of water, specifically the beaches of Sydney where he grew up, and the popular sport of surfing. In 2006, accepting the Designer of the Year award at Design Miami, a reporter pointedly congratulated Marc on having developed from surfer to world-class designer. Marc’s response was measured, elegantly pausing to explain that surfing was not simply a sport, it was – potentially – a matter of life or death as the surfer interpreted, negotiated and mastered the dangerous currents beneath his board. The Orgone Stretch Lounge, perhaps more fluently than any of the other forms from this series, or the Lockheed that preceded it, communicates this sense of the complex, rhythmic undulations of water.
The present lot, the second artist’s proof from the edition of six, must be appreciated as one of the designer’s most resolved creations – translating references that embrace the pragmatic and the conceptual, to deliver through hand-craft a work of exceptional beauty.
Christie's would like to thank Marc Newson Studio for their assistance with the cataloguing of the present lot.