Start with a sketch

“He’s old-school, one of the last generation of industrial designers who start with hand sketches,” Alexandre David, Marc Newson’s business partner for his watch brand Ikepod, says over lunch.

Marc, that most prolific of star designers, whose Lockheed lounge, upon last auction made him the world’s most expensive living designer, nods confirmation. He sketches in transit, he explains, on the plane or train – he shuttles between London and Paris weekly, flies to Sydney thrice a year, and wherever else his clients need him to go. “I do a lot of sketching on the train,” Marc says, adding, “A train would be fun to design”. He has designed nearly everything, from jewelry and high-end watches (the Ikepod on his wrist has a SGD70,000 model) to speedboats and airplane interiors. He’s even designed a vibrator. But he has never designed a train.

But back to Marc’s sketches. This page is of the limited edition Hourglass. The sketches may look like any other drawing of the timeless timepiece – but the finished product, which Marc was in Singapore to launch, is ultra-luxe and ultra-high-tech: 21 million gold-plated low carbon nanoballs filter through hand-blown glass with a precision aperture to measure out an hour.

As simple as the sketches are, so
is the designer. He wears none of the gimmickry that the slick Karim Rashid does, nor the angst and ego of Philippe Starck. Instead, he speaks in a down-to-earth manner; he confesses self-deprecatingly that people mostly use the vibrator he designed as a paperweight. And he says, “The Hourglass was an esoteric project. And fun!”