Following in the footsteps fellow luminaries Tom Dixon, Arik Levy and Nicolas Winding Refn, Australian industrial designer Marc Newson has teamed up with Hennessy to create a limited edition X.O. decanter of the classic cognac.
Newson, who has worked with leading brands such as Qantas, Louis Vuitton and more recently appointed to the Apple design team, says he approached the design process with both trepidation and respect.
"I started learning about Hennessy several years ago when we first broached the possibility of collaboration," says Newson.
"What followed was a fairly intensive period of trying to understand everything there is to know about Hennessy X.O. I was familiar with the blend, but I certainly was no expert. I'd say I'm still no expert, but it helps if you like the product and if the product and the project interest you," he says.
Shaping an icon
He approached the design from a modern viewpoint in turn bringing a contemporary interpretation to the process.
"It's such an iconic shape that I was surprised to understand it," says Newson. "It's an incredible carrier for different sorts of motifs, motifs that are different from the original ones. I was also surprised at the kind of latitude it offers someone like me, as long as it's done sensitively," says Newson.
His intention was to magnify and glorify the blend.
"I wanted to magnify the bottle's contents, it's lovely colour and nuances," he says.
Newson's best design moments are numerous, including the Orgone chair in 1993 and the Random Park Sofa in 2007. From yachts to architectural commissions and sculptural pieces he brings a modern verve to his design process. You only need to look at his cool space shoe collaboration with Nike back in 2004 to see how the "Zvezdochka Sneaker" saw him put his vision firmly into the international space station.
But when it comes to decanting cognac, Newson pours the best version of himself into this collaboration.
"I really wanted to bring a sensorial aspect to the Hennessy X.O. brand," says Newson.
"I want people to look at this bottle and their instantaneous reaction to be that they to want to touch it and hold it," he says. "I believe it should be a tangible, tactile product. What I tried to do was bridge that gap in a modern and perhaps more contemporary way," he says.
Looking through the creative forest
When it comes to comparing how the decanter design fits in with Newson's body of work, the parallels are not so easy to draw.
"To be honest I never really consider how a project fits into my body of work simply because I can't see the forest for all the trees," says Newson.
"I do what I do and just assume that somehow what I'm doing fits in with my body of work and there's a thread that will tie all of these things together. I certainly hope that's the case now," he adds.
"But I never start a project thinking about how it is going to fit in, or by worrying whether it will or won't fit in. My biggest focus is on doing the best job I can and essentially solving the problem that needs to be resolved."