Marc Newson’s Embryo Chair is still incredible 31 years later

Marc Newson’s Embryo Chair has not only become and an iconic part of the Australian designer’s portfolio, but industrial design itself. 

There are similarities in form with the piece which propelled him into stardom: the Lockheed Lounge. Famously featured in Madonna’s video for Rain, the Lockheed Lounge announced Newson as a serious industrial design talent. 

Original sketches / Decece

The Embryo chair was conceived in the same year with Decece in Sydney originally producing the first series in 1988, with Idee in Tokyo taking up production followed by industry heavyweights Cappellini.

However, it took until 1999 for the chair to be recognised as a design piece winning a Red Dot Design Award.

Key materials used in the Embryo Chair are aluminium for the legs and injection molded polyurethane foam over an internal steel frame forming the main component and originally wrapped in neoprene.

Newson says, “I came up with the idea of upholstering it in wetsuit fabric, because the colours were strong and I was seduced by the texture. It seemed very Australian.”

What’s it like to actually sit on? Surprisingly comfortable! This is a statement piece to be admired and cherished, less so for young sticky fingers and dirty feet to climb and jump over. It has the ability to be part of just about any room adding joy and life through its playful form.

Image Idee

Today you can order an Embryo chair through Cappellini or Idee, both with a slightly different finish. According to Newson’s website the Idée manufactured edition uses neoprene while the Cappellini edition uses synthetic upholstery textile—a fixed bi-elastic fabric cover can be ordered in white, black, orange, yellow and turquoise*.

Idee have the chair priced at ¥266,200 ($3573 AUD as of date of this article) online while Cappellini only provides contact details.

Image Marc Newson

As a purely sculptural object to reside in a home, the Embryo chair will lift any room. The fact it’s entirely practical makes it justified and being a Marc Newson piece, it’s not likely to lose value anytime soon. 

Newson has continued to work with some of the biggest brands in the world, his latest clients being Mont Blanc, Louis Vuitton, Ferrari, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Nike, and Hennessy.

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