It’s no secret that Apple is branching out into the home — and into all manner of peripherals. But it’s still a surprise to hear that Marc Newson, the celebrated Australian (but UK-based) industrial designer responsible for some of the most well-known furniture and products of the past decade, will be joining Jony Ive’s team soon.
If you keep tabs on Ive — not that we do or anything — you’ll know that Ive and Newson are close friends. They pal around with Bono, hang out in clown cars, and just generally come from the same background, both from a design and generational perspective. According to Vanity Fair, Newson will join Apple as a Senior Vice President of Design, but he’ll remain working in the UK for the time being, commuting to California when needed.
Newson graduated from the Sydney College of Arts in 1984, and has followed a similar path to fame as Ive, climbing the ranks through some of the biggest companies in the world as a young designer. Except in Newson’s case, it was brands dealing with furniture, home goods, and even aircraft design, like Qantas — for whom he redesigned the cabins. Newson and Ive also share a, er, distinct voice, as Mark Gurman was quick to point out:
— Mark Gurman (@markgurman) September 5, 2014
And Newson has done his fair share of consumer technology work, as Ryan Block comments:
Highlight: Newson created one of my all time pre-touchscreen phone designs, the Talby (for KDDI in Japan) http://t.co/jLJ7JghSQ4
— Ryan Block (@ryan) September 5, 2014
But beyond being buddies, what could be behind the high-profile hire? It seems fairly obvious. In just four days, Apple will be introducing some of its biggest changes to its core product line we’ve seen in years — including a wearable that will likely feature Near Field Communication, opening up the ability to control a whole network of devices and appliances with your phone or watch.
Considered in light of Apple’s new Home Kit, an API that lays the groundwork to do just that, hiring a designer known for his canny ability as a furniture and product designer makes perfect sense. Ive might have loads of experience with how consumers interact with gadgets, but Newson has been working with spaces — and the way people use them — for decades now. Not to mention watches:
We’ll be hearing more about the iWatch and HomeKit on Tuesday. For now, let’s just meditate on this ridiculous video of Newson, Ive, and Bono posing for photos in a car.