Buro 24/7 Exclusive: Marc Newson for Louis Vuitton's 'Rolling Luggage'
Break new ground
Louis Vuitton has once again tapped into the creative expertise of designer Marc Newson to create a new range of rolling trunks for the 21st century traveller. One of the most influential designers of this generation, Newson's artistic abilities have translated to many disciplines, from furniture and aircraft to sculptures and architectural commissions. This season, Louis Vuitton's trunks are made with a new type of composite that's exceptionally thin and lightweight without compromising its original characteristics. New features include a transversal side hinge to allow for a 180 degree opening, and an ultra-slim aluminium TSA-approved zip-pull lock system that is integrated with a single zipper pull, designed to reduce weight and avoid the usual stress points with double zip pulls in luggage.
Newson weighs in on developing a rigorously designed and engineered product for Louis Vuitton along with his idea of travelling in the future.
What about this project convinced you to join forces with Louis Vuitton?
Marc Newson: I suppose what tempted me and compelled me to join forces with Louis Vuitton was the challenge of designing a great piece—and, consequently, a range—but primarily a great piece of luggage. Like so many people I travel a lot, and I feel that I am in many ways kind of uniquely placed to be able to do that as a consumer even more than a designer, actually.
In 2014, Celebrating Monogram marked your first collaboration with Louis Vuitton. How is this project different?
MN: This project is completely different from the Celebrating Monogram collaboration in many ways. The Celebrating Monogram exercise was fundamentally a lot of fun, and apart from being able to do exactly what I wanted there weren't that many commercial imperatives to consider. This project, on the other hand, is altogether very different. This product, and range, will be in production indefinitely and available all over the world throughout the Louis Vuitton store network. I guess it's safe to say that there are going to be a lot more of this product out there, but its functional requirements are also completely different. The requirements for this luggage are rigorous and the process was arguably more a matter of engineering than of design.
How does your design expertise dovetail with Louis Vuitton's savoir-faire?
MN: Combining my design expertise with the Maison Louis Vuitton's savoir-faire, the Louis Vuitton DNA you could say, was an important part of the exercise. It's an important thing to bear in mind because, at the end of the day, this is a product for Louis Vuitton; it's not a product for me. I was constantly mindful of the fact that this is a Louis Vuitton product: when you see it across the room or indeed across the airport, it's recognisable as a Louis Vuitton product and not necessarily as a product that I've designed. If people see me in it then that's nice, but this product really has to embody all of the attributes, all of the qualities of Louis Vuitton and all of the things that the maison is famous for. Beyond that, I think it's safe to say that we're striving to break new ground in terms of developing a product that is one of the lightest on the market and, from a technical perspective, is one of the most rigorously designed and engineered.
How do you travel today?
MN: I probably travel the way most people travel. I generally try to fit everything I can into one carry-on size piece of luggage because I hate checking bags. I'm one of those people who constantly gets their luggage lost; I'm obsessive about packing everything into a bag of a certain size which is why it was so important for me to design a product that could be the perfect piece of luggage for others like me who won't travel with anything more than is absolutely necessary.
You have designed space planes, airplanes, body jet and now luggage for Louis Vuitton. How do you think we will travel tomorrow?
MN: I think it's possible that travel tomorrow will not be that different from travel today. I'd like to think that we will always have to use luggage. We may not actually be carrying the luggage—at some point in the future we may be able to send our luggage ahead of us like people already do in Japan. But I'd also like to think that the process of travelling in general could be a little more elegant, a little more seamless and a little more enjoyable, frankly. I think that anything we can do to make the experience of travelling more pleasurable is a good thing. I don't know many people who enjoy travelling these days, and I'm sure that that wasn't the case 50 years ago. One of the attractions of working with a company like Louis Vuitton is that it does provide the possibility of enjoyment with things like accessories and luggage that make travel a little more fun.
What do you think travellers will love most about this luggage?
MN: I think that, for the first time, they will discover a product that is technically rigorous that works well and looks really good too. What's more, the quality of execution will be second to none. Personally, I've always struggled to find something that I want to go out and spend my money on. And I think the world of luggage is a slightly woeful place. So it's exciting to be present in that market with a product that I think brings everything together in one place.
What is real luxury for you?
MN: Real luxury is a very tough thing to define. Many people have tried to do it, and it's an especially hot topic. For me, it has to do with quality and longevity: those are the two attributes I associate with luxury. I love the idea of designing a product that is made as well as it can possibly be made, and will last for as long as it can possibly last. We've left no stone unturned in terms how the details have been executed. For me, in many ways that's about as luxurious as something can get. It's only about the essentials.