Marc Newson is an industrious industrial designer. The Australian superstar creative has worked on projects as diverse as chairs and restaurants, motor cars, airplanes and spaceships. Famed for his futuristic forms and clear modernist aesthetics, he has an impressive client list to include Apple, Nike, Louis Vuitton, Hennessy and Hermès. Now the designer is collaborating with Ferrari on a one-off project involving a stylish travel kit inspired by the crafted Italian sports cars and the lush Emilia-Romagna landscape surrounding the Maranello plant.
There are six products within the Ferrari luggage family. They include a trolley, duffel bag, garment bag, suitcase and a quarantottore – essentially a business briefcase designed to carry overnight essentials. Customers can order the products in five shades of classic Ferrari interior colors, with a special additional vinaccia burgundy hue developed exclusively for this collection.
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Newson himself drives a 1955 Ferrari 857S and admits that the period – Italy in the 1950s and 60s – deeply inspired his creative work. “Yes, I’ve always been fascinated by that historical time period,” he tells me over an email conversation. “This collection has as its design reference point the clean and pure aesthetic of objects produced during Italy’s so-called ‘economic miracle’, which ushered in a burst of creativity.”
Newson has looked to Ferrari roadsters past and present to find colors, textures, shapes and ideas for the luggage collection. For instance, the external leather pattern takes its cue from the cam covers of Ferrari engines, while the aluminum detailing on the luggage reference elements of the motor cars and are in fact made using the same suppliers in Italy.
The Ferrari luggage line certainly highlights the romance of travel. I ask Newson, how color and texture were manipulated to add to this allure. “I drew inspiration from Ferrari’s rich heritage as well as the very territory where it was born. The Ferrari lining pattern for example, lithe and supple, is inspired by the gentle hills of Emilia and the historical designs of the brand, while the suitcases’ interior yellow color matches Modena’s building tradition,” he says referring to the Italian city that is the birthplace of Ferrari.
There were clear challenges in making the collection instantly recognizable as Ferrari products – after all the cars are so distinct. Newson agrees that whilst every single Ferrari is different, they are instantly recognizable as Ferraris, even from a long distance. “My challenge was to achieve that same result with the design of the suitcases: they too need to be unmistakably Ferrari,” he offers. “Luckily, this was a very unique project and I was able to define the criteria from the very beginning. Starting from scratch – being able to outline everything, from the shapes, to the materials and so on is far more enjoyable than being given an existing set to simply personalize.”
He continues to explain his creative process: “One of the guiding principles in the design of a Ferrari is aerodynamics and I chose to use this as the grounding philosophy for this collection as well. Every piece is designed to look as if it can effortlessly overcome the resistance of the earth’s atmosphere.”
Many of the details – the handles and the wheels – have clear engineering roots. The trolley’s patented roller handle sliding mechanism, for instance, was developed with Ferrari engineers, who worked with similar techniques used in the hybrid LaFerrari pedals. “Yes, the handles draw inspiration from the classic Ferrari steering wheel, while the sliding mechanism of the roller was designed applying the very same technique used for the pedals of LaFerrari – one of the most iconic supercars of the ‘Prancing Horse’,” says Newson, adding: “This luggage set has a strong link with Ferrari’s identity.”
I’m interested to know of the practical challenges of designing a range that fits in the boot of a typical Ferrari. “Aerodynamics and functionality have to be complementary,” says Newson. “The suitcases were designed to fit in Ferrari boots much like oysters fit in their shells. For every model there is a corresponding set, each one is a Ferrari passe-partout.”
This isn’t Newson’s first car journey, either. In 1999, the designer embarked on a project for Ford to design the 021C Concept car featuring a host of innovative ideas that were so novel to automotive design back then. I was at the start of my writing career and I recall wondering at the seemingly simple design that hides so much creative complexity.
Every component, for instance, was imagined and fabricated from scratch. The complex exterior features seamless surfaces, a retractable trunk that opens like a drawer and door handles made of aluminum buttons surrounded by translucent plastic rings that illuminate when unlocked. The doors open wide revealing a light and pillarless interior with a floating adjustable instrument panel. And, the 021C featured a single horizontal LED light – new to vehicle design then.
The Ferrari luggage collection will be produced at Schedoni, the Italian maker which has been crafting tailored suitcases for Ferrari cars for almost 50 years. The products will be available through the personalization catalogue and are exclusive to the marque’s customers. What’s more, every piece in the collection is designed to be unique and is accompanied by its very own chassis number – “giving each item an exclusive unique identity,” notes Newson.
Asked which product and color scheme most appeals to him personally, Newson admits: “I love all the six items of the luggage set, from the trolley to the quarantottore, a special business briefcase designed to have room enough for a change of clothes and basic overnight necessities, a must have for a globetrotter businessman.” He says from five available colors, the most special has to be the vinaccia, “an exclusive and unexpected burgundy shade – a signature for some of the greatest Ferrari models.”