Heavyweight Apple designer Marc Newson gave an interview Thursday to the Wall Street Journal where, among other things, he sharply criticizes the state of modern car design. This comes as rumors of an Apple car are on the rise.
When asked what his design pet peeve is, Newson replied, “the automotive industry. There were moments when cars somehow encapsulated everything that was good about progress. But right now we’re at the bottom of a trough.”
Newson has gone on the record many times about his passion for classic cars. In the Wall Street Journal piece he talks briefly about his 1929 Bugatti and his 1959 Ferrari, with a 2014 Telegraph profile indicating he owns a 1959 Aston Martin DB4 and 1969 Lamborghini Miura.
In 1999, he designed a concept car for Ford called the 021C with many retro design touches. To date, this is his only automotive design.
Apple design boss and friend of Newson, Jony Ive, also shares a similar passion for classic car design. The mammoth New Yorker profile of Ive explores this:
“He and Newson are car guys, and they feel disappointed with most modern cars; each summer, they attend the Goodwood Festival of Speed, where vintage sports cars are exhibited and raced in the South of England. ‘There are some shocking cars on the road,” Ive said. “One person’s car is another person’s scenery.'”
Ive has also criticized the Toyota Camry driven by Apple’s Senior Vice President of Operations, Jeff Williams.
One could easily read these statements as being professions of love for beautifully designed vintage cars, or to be more conspiratorial, subtle foreshadowing.
At the 2013 D11 conference, Apple CEO Tim Cook said “I think the wrist is interesting. The wrist is natural” when asked about his thoughts on wearable technology. Just over a year later, Apple debuted its Watch.
Apple has reportedly employed up to 1,000 people for the mysterious “Project Titan”, which appears to be at least car-related. It was also reported that Tim Cook and other Apple executives toured one of BMW’s factories last year.
Perhaps these seemingly interconnected observations will amount to nothing. Or perhaps its a subtle hint that Apple wants to shake up yet another industry with its growing design empire.
In any event, both the timing and nature of Newson’s comments are very interesting.