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Holy Ship! Marc Newson Designs 1960s-Inspired Power Boat

It’s a steal for $1.5 Million!

Marc Newson powerboat

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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.

What recession?

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.

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[Photos courtesy of Marc Newson]

About the author

Suzanne LaBarre is the editor of Co.Design. Previously, she was the online content director of Popular Science and has written for the New York Times, the New York Observer, Newsday, I.D.

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