International Decorative Art

Embryo Chair

Embryo Chair

Design Date 1988

Designer Marc Newson (b. 1963, Australian)

Manufacturer Idée, Tokyo, Japan

Media steel, aluminum, polyurethane foam and neoprene upholstery

Dimensions 30 3/8 x 25 1/4 x 33 1/2 inches

Marc Newson’s narrow-waisted Embryo Chair is an example of the designer’s minimalist, biomorphic aesthetic. The chair’s name and undulating organic design both suggest inspiration from microbiology. Though designing in the Postmodern era, Newson was inspired by simpler designs from the 1950s and 1960s, which he modernized with the use of new materials, like this chair’s neoprene covering—a fabric also used in wetsuits. The use of neoprene pays homage to the surfer culture in which the Australian Newson grew up. A theme in Newson’s work is the juxtaposition of round organic shapes like the Embryo Chair’s biological inspiration, and industrial materials such as the metallic legs. Newson’s brand of futuristic design is meant to be bright and friendly. He said, “Today the future doesn’t seem to be represented in such an optimistic way. The most exciting things visually in cinema have been films like Alien and Bladerunner, which take a much darker view of the future.” His use of new fabrics “suggested such things can be done. For me it represented something very optimistic, it showed the future.”

Not currently on view

Markings unmarked

Credit Line Collection Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art

Accession Number 2012.0756