Marc Newson talks personal taste – Part Two

The designer concludes his style file with Vittorio Gassman, a flint knife and Japanese onsens

Marc Newson
Marc Newson | Image: Richard Grassie

My style icon is the Italian actor Vittorio Gassman. He had incredible charisma and innate style and his mannerisms in various films just put a smile on my face. He was the star of Il Sorpasso, one of my favourite movies of all time.

The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is Alighiero e Boetti. He was an Italian conceptual artist who worked with a wide array of tools and techniques. I’d also love to collect the work of Lucio Fontana, an Argentine painter and sculptor who was part of the Arte Povera movement, but I think I’ve missed the window on this one.

River Café
River Café | Image: Matteo Piazza

An object I would never part with is my retractable Japanese fountain pen. This Namiki model was originally made by Pilot but was discontinued and replaced by a newer model. I prefer the old version and I never go anywhere without this pen and one of my sketchbooks. In general, I’m not very materialistic, so I’d part with virtually all of my objects. £225;

My favourite room in my house is the bathroom. It’s clad in the same striped marble found in the Casa Malaparte in Capri and was sourced from the same quarry. This marble – often called zebrano – looks as though black ink has been dripped down a white wall for dramatic effect.


The site that inspires me is the Aomori area in northern Japan. The delicious food, the traditional Japanese architecture, and the natural thermal springs – onsens – are all wonderful. I also love the sight of the mountains in winter – covered in snow – when everything feels serene and peaceful. I like that this culture values overall wellbeing.

An indulgence I would never forego is drinking tea. I love loose teas – Darjeeling and Assam – and am not a fan of tea bags. I tend to drink tea throughout the day and like to take the time to brew it in a pot.

Pilot Namiki retractable Japanese fountain pen
Pilot Namiki retractable Japanese fountain pen | Image: Richard Grassie

The best gift I’ve given recently was a one-of-a-kind dining-room table that I designed for my wife.

And the best one I’ve received recently was a flint knife. It’s a reproduction of a prehistoric knife that was given to me by my old friend and Apple product designer Jonathan Ive.

Italian actor Vittorio Gassman
Italian actor Vittorio Gassman | Image: Sipa Press/Rex Features

The grooming staple I’m never without ismoisturiser, but I’m happy to fluctuate between brands. I’m currently using Dr Sebagh’s Vital Cream. I use various shampoos from Vichy and I like the simple soap that I find in Ithaca. It’s made from olive oil and comes in baking sheets from our local market. Dr Sebagh Vital Cream, £62 for 50ml;

A recent “find” is the restaurant 34 in London. It isn’t new to other people, but I love the overall ambience and the ease of the menu. When it comes to eating out, I don’t need to challenge my mental capacity and they serve straightforward things such as Caesar salad, the perfect hamburger and grilled fish. 34 Grosvenor Square, London W1 (020-3350 3434;

Hirosaki Castle, in Aomori, Japan
Hirosaki Castle, in Aomori, Japan | Image: Getty Images/Flickr RM

In my fridge you’ll always find a bottle of Dom Pérignon – and not because I work for them. You’ll also find good smoked salmon from the food hall at Selfridges, as well as fresh fruits and vegetables such as avocados and mangoes – things that I grew up with in Australia. 400 Oxford Street, London W1 (0800-123 400;

If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I’d choose Ginza in Tokyo. I love the food halls and stores, such as Tokyu Hands for tools, toys and kitchen gadgets. I also like to stock up on macaroons from Toraya and, if I have time, I’ll visit one of my favourite restaurants in the world, Tora Kuma Mogura, which serves the best hearty Kushu cuisine. Tokyu Hands, Marronnier Gate, 2-2-14 Ginza, Tokyo (+8103-3538 0109; Tora Kuma Mogura, B1F Rapo Building, 2-12-7 Azabu, Tokyo (+8103-5441 2511; Toraya, 7-8-6 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo (+8103-3571 3679;


If I weren’t doing what I do, I’d be a craftsman of some sort. I’d likely be a blacksmith or a cabinetmaker, and I’d definitely be in a workshop tinkering with things.

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