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Jony Ive’s design partner Marc Newson once made a $300K samurai sword

And more factoids about 5 things to know about Ive’s longtime friend and design partner. The pair are leaving Apple to start a new design firm called LoveFrom.

Jony Ive’s design partner Marc Newson once made a $300K samurai sword
Marc Newson and Jony Ive [Photo: David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Claridge’s]

This week, famed designer Jony Ive announced he’s leaving Apple to start his own design firm. But he’s not doing it alone.

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Ive is teaming up with his long-time friend and Apple colleague Marc Newson, a renowned designer in his own right, to start the design agency LoveFrom. Newson joined Apple in 2014 after spending years designing high-end luxury products, like $565 fountain pens and $1.5 million speedboats. His career may offer clues to the types of projects that Ive’s new firm may pursue. Here’s five things you should know about Newson.

He’s designed everything from airplane lounges to futuristic jetpacks to samurai swords

Newson initially studied jewelry and sculpture at the Sydney College of the Arts in his native Australia, but he’s gone on to design a variety of products.

That includes his designs for the Australian airline Quantas, in which he envisioned everything from the business class seats to the lounges to the check-in experience. He has designed cameras, watches, and speedboats for the ultra-rich. He has worked with Nike on sneakers inspired by astronauts and limited edition Air Max shoes. He has even prototyped a futuristic jetpack and designed 10 limited edition katanas inspired by traditional Japanese samurai weapons—which had a price tag of $300,000 each.

[Photo: Nike]

One of his chairs is the most expensive piece of furniture ever created by a living designer

Newson also does furniture—but you definitely can’t afford it. In fact, a lounge chair he created in the 1980s, called the Lockheed Lounge, holds the record for the most expensive piece of furniture ever created by a living designer. It was sold for $4.69 million in 2015.

According to his website, Newson’s pieces are a staple in the auction world, and in 2010, sales of his designs accounted for 24% of total sales in the design category for Sotheby’s, Christie’s, and Phillips.

A Lockheed Lounge chair on display at Christie’s London. [Photo: Jack Taylor/Getty Images]

He’s almost a knight

Not only does Newson design for the elite—he’s one of them, too. Newson’s designs have become so influential that in 2012, the Queen of England honored him for “services to design in the U.K. and worldwide” by naming him a Commander of the Order of the British Empire. It’s an honorary title that’s just a few steps removed from actual knighthood. (Ive, in comparison, is an actual knight.)

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[Photo: courtesy of Sotheby’s]

He and Ive have designed a 1.5-ton desk and an all-diamond ring for charity

Ive and Newson have been friends for years, and that friendship has led to some pretty remarkable–and seemingly random—collaborations, including a Christmas tree at the famous London hotel Claridge’s. The duo has also teamed up to create some obscenely expensive design objects in the name of charity.

In 2013, Ive and Newson designed a space-age desk made of raw aluminum that weighs 1.5 tons for a Sotheby’s auction. The desk sold for $1.7 million as part of a fundraiser for the Global Fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. They also designed a Leica Digital Rangefinder Camera for the same auction, which sold for $1.8 million. In 2018, the two designed a 100% diamond ring—even the band is made out of diamond—that went for $256,000.

He’s the only designer represented by the prestigious Gagosian Gallery

Given how much money his pieces go for, it makes sense that Newson is the only designer that’s represented by one of the most prestigious galleries in the world, the Gagosian Gallery. Earlier this year, the gallery held an exhibition of his work, further cementing his status as a designer for the elite.

At Apple, Ive tried to infuse the tech company’s products with a feeling of luxury, but ultimately had to design smartphones and computers that would be accessible to millions of users. In contrast, much of Newson’s work is done in small batches or it’s a one-off art piece, designed for the ultra-rich. Given their caliber, the two designers will have the pick of any client they want. Will the duo’s new collaborations cater to Ive’s audience for the past 20 years, or Newson’s?

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About the author

Katharine Schwab is the deputy editor of Fast Company's technology section. Email her at kschwab@fastcompany.com and follow her on Twitter @kschwabable

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