Marc Newson, the Aussie king of high design, has turned his hand tothe 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 tothe days of Frankie and Dee Dee — all of which can be had for adecidedly un-’60s price: $1.5 million.
Themini-yacht’ll be sold in limited edition through New York’s Gagosian Gallerythis fall. It’s a clever business tactic. The gallery caters to clientswho know from good design (Si Newhouse, David Geffen, and CharlesSaatchi, to name a few) and also happen to have more money than God.Naturally, the press release has a quote from Larry Gagosian, in whichhe calls Newson’s design “a brilliant blend of form and function,looking back to La Dolce Vita of the 1950s and 1960s and forward tothe 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’sintent was to capture and update the glamour of Riva’s mid-centuryboats (the Alfa Romeos of the sea, for those of us who don’t subscribeto Departures). “I wanted the boat to look timeless, very, veryslick, very much understated and very, very cool,” Newson says inprepared press remarks. The new model has a sleek Micarta deck (thefake wood) and instead of traditional chrome, hooks and handles aremade of anodized aluminum. The old boats probably didn’t have screens,either.
Who isn’t designing a sea vessel nowadays? Luxuryyachts are to the rich what bad perfume is to starlets — a vanityproject designers are only too happy to enable under the guise of goodtaste. Last year, we brought you news of Lord Norman Foster’sweird super-yacht venture, which tried to circumvent the wholerich-people-hemorrhaging-money-with-which-to-buy-expensive-playthingsthing by offering time shares. Wonder how that turned out. We also toldyou 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 thatlooks like a submarine warship and includes a “nookie room,” completewith a round bed and padded walls. Uh, classy? Newson’sboat is downright tame by comparison.
[Photos courtesy of Marc Newson]