Marc Newson, the Aussie king of high design, has turned his hand to the high seas, with a new luxury powerboat for the Italian company Riva. The vessel looks strangely anachronistic, with a fake mahogany deck and loud turquoise accents harking back to the days of Frankie and Dee Dee — all of which can be had for a decidedly un-'60s price: $1.5 million.
The mini-yacht'll be sold in limited edition through New York's Gagosian Gallery this fall. It's a clever business tactic. The gallery caters to clients who know from good design (Si Newhouse, David Geffen, and Charles Saatchi, to name a few) and also happen to have more money than God. Naturally, the press release has a quote from Larry Gagosian, in which he calls Newson's design "a brilliant blend of form and function, looking back to La Dolce Vita of the 1950s and 1960s and forward to the latest trends in nautical design." (He says La Dolce Vita, we say Beach Blanket Bingo.) Not in the press release, but almost certain to have passed through his lips: "$$$$$$$$$."
Newson's intent was to capture and update the glamour of Riva's mid-century boats (the Alfa Romeos of the sea, for those of us who don't subscribe to Departures). "I wanted the boat to look timeless, very, very slick, very much understated and very, very cool," Newson says in prepared press remarks. The new model has a sleek Micarta deck (the fake wood) and instead of traditional chrome, hooks and handles are made of anodized aluminum. The old boats probably didn't have screens, either.
Who isn't designing a sea vessel nowadays? Luxury yachts are to the rich what bad perfume is to starlets — a vanity project designers are only too happy to enable under the guise of good taste. Last year, we brought you news of Lord Norman Foster's weird super-yacht venture, which tried to circumvent the whole rich-people-hemorrhaging-money-with-which-to-buy-expensive-playthings thing by offering time shares. Wonder how that turned out. We also told you about Jeff Koons designing a yacht for art collector Dakis Joannou (who, of course, collects Koons's work) inspired by dazzle camouflage. And Philippe Starck produced a vessel for a Russian billionaire that looks like a submarine warship and includes a "nookie room," complete with a round bed and padded walls. Uh, classy? Newson's boat is downright tame by comparison.
[Photos courtesy of Marc Newson]