Chair, 'Embryo', neoprene/ polyurethane/ steel, designed by Marc Newson, made by DeDeCe, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1988
Marc Newson is Australia's most successful contemporary designer. Since graduating from Sydney College of the Arts in 1984 he has worked in Japan, Italy, France and Britain. He has designed furniture, lighting, interiors, watches, homewares, a bike, a concept car and a jet. He appears regularly in international design journals and his work is represented in collections thoughout the world.
The Powerhouse Museum has supported Newson since early in his career, acquiring one of his first chairs, the 'Marc 1', in 1985 and commissioning this 'Embryo' chair in 1988 for the exhibition 'Take a seat'. This chair, covered in bright pink neoprene wet suit fabric, received wide publicity when first shown and, like the 'Lockheed Lounge', has since become one of Newson's signature pieces and a 20th century design icon.
Like the 'Orgone' and the 'Wood' chair of the same year, the 'Embryo' represents an important milestone in Newson's career, a watershed between his Sydney and international practices. Stylistically, it falls between the 'Insect' chair of 1986 and the 'Felt' and 'Wicker' chairs of 1989-90. The 'Embryo' was produced in Sydney by de de ce, in Tokyo by Idee, and later by the big Italian company Cappellini, testament to its continuing status as a significant example of 20th century design.
The Embryo chair was designed by Marc Newson in Sydney, Australia, in 1988. This chair was commissioned by the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (Powerhouse Museum) in 1988 and sponsored by Sedia Australia. It was made by DeDeCe in Sydney, Australia, in 1988
Marc Newson was only twenty five when he designed the Embryo chair for the Powerhouse Exhibition 'Take a Seat'. His work had already been exhibited in Australia, Europe and Japan and a number of his designs were in commercial production both locally and aboard.
The distinctive design of the Embryo chair demonstrates the imaginative flair which generated Newson's precocious success. The body of the chair, made in polyurethane foam, is formed in one piece, the back tapering to a waist before widening out into the seat. In this example the swelling contours are contained within a skin of bright pink neoprene (other colours were also produced) and supported on three black tubular steel legs in an insect like stance. While the biometric form and luminescent colour may recall images from comic book science fiction, the elegant proportions and refinement of detail demonstrate a sophisticated aesthetic.
Judith O'Callaghan, 1991
The chair was displayed at the Powerhouse Museum in the 'Take a seat' exhibition in 1988 and the 'Marc Newson - design works' exhibition in 2001.