We sing the praises of Marc Newson’s ‘Lockheed Lounge’ chaise longue
We celebrate what may well be the most uncomfortable chair of all times, the ‘Lockheed Lounge’ by Marc Newson.
WORDS Sara Black
In what can only be described as some kind of mutated lovechild of RoboCop and H.R. Giger, the ‘Lockheed Lounge’ chair by Marc Newson pushes the functionality of furniture to stratospheric levels.
How could a chaise longue crafted from aluminium and adorned with a myriad of pesky rivets become one of the 20 century’s most iconic designs? And the Australian designer be awarded a CBE (Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) for his contributions to the arts?
It all started in Sydney, Australia. Newson was born in the early 60s and, after graduating from the Sydney College of Arts, began forging a career in industrial design. He studied jewellery and sculpture and acquired an almost-obsessive fascination with material and process. Just two years later, Newson was awarded a grant from the Australian Crafts Council and held his first exhibition featuring the ‘Lockheed Lounge’ chair.
It was groundbreaking in its design, shirking the usual 80s furniture design norms. Referencing both modernism and post-modernism (however conforming to neither genre), Newson was inspired by the form of an antique chaise longue and re-interpreted it into a three-legged aerodynamically notioned masterpiece.
After failed attempts to encase the fibreglass-reinforced plastic body with a single sheet of thin aluminium, Newson changed tack and hammered a multitude of small plates of pure aluminium to curve around the shell. In turn, the intensive nature of manufacture excluded the option of mass production and the chair’s rarity made it even more desirable. With thanks to a guest appearance in Madonna’s 1993 music video for Rain, the ‘Lockheed Lounge’ chair gained instant international fame and Newson manufactured 10 editions of the chair, each taking six months to hand produce.
Love or loathe it, the chair’s popularity is unprecedented. One sold for US$968,000 at Sotheby’s in 2006, one for £1,100,000 at a 2009 auction and another for £2,400,000 at a 2015 auction (making it the most expensive object ever sold by a living designer).