Design from a different perspective

Intense and iconic: For Marc Newson, one of the most influential designers in the world, the colour red has a very special meaning. In collaboration with Montblanc and the nonprofit organization (RED), which fights for a world without AIDS, the Australian designed the (MONTBLANC M)RED in that striking colour. At the launch event Empowe(RED) at the White City House in London we met Marc Newson and talked to him about his social commitment and his creative approach.

Desired: The (MONTBLANC M)RED as a writing instrument and Marc Newson (left) as a designer and interviewpartner.

You support (RED) already for a couple of years. How do you estimate the success of (RED)’s fight?

By all accounts it’s doing an incredible job! They are close to achieving the goal they set themselves. It is not a one-off, it continues to be a force for good.

Why did you choose to support (RED)?

It is an on-going relationship between us since 2013. It is my partner of choice and I believe in what they’re doing.

How did you get in touch with (RED)?

It was the other way round – Bono got in touch with me to come on board. Together with Jony Ive of Apple I co-curated a charity auction for red at Sothebys in New York in 2013 for which we raised the incredible amount of $26.2 million.

“The design of the (MONTBLANC M)RED is iconic.“

– - Marc Newson about his reason why he chose the Montblanc M to link with the (RED) campaign

When did the idea for the (Montblanc M)RED occur?

A couple of years ago I was looking for opportunities to exploit designs I had already done for the benefit of (RED). My design of a Montblanc M writing instrument seemed the perfect candidate. It was very customisable and I knew the result would be iconic.

What was the challenge in redesigning a writing instrument?

It was straightforward – not much of a challenge, rather a perfect opportunity to apply the (RED) DNA to one of my designs.

How can a small Writing Instrument support (RED)’s fight?

It is simply one of a number of things to generate interest and funding and to create impact for (RED).

Contribution: For every (MONTBLANC M)RED writing instrument and accessory purchased, 5 Euros will go to the Global Fund to support HIV/AIDS programmes.

“The challenge is to keep on top of it.“

– Marc Newson on how he finds new perspectives

Using influence for a good cause – how do you see your role in society?

I guess it’s to educate people on the value and values of good design.

How is your work affected by the many facets of society?

What I do is completely determined by what is around me – if everything was perfect – I’d be out of a job. I’m basically a problem solver.

How do you find new challenges and new perspectives?

I don’t seek them, they tend to come to me. The challenge is to keep on top of it, to always push the envelope and to remain relevant.

What do you do to regain inspiration?

It comes and goes – it’s not a tangible asset.

What’s your approach when you take on a new challenge?

For every brief my approach is always the same – whatever the project - large or small. First I look at the object as something that needs to be designed with a particular set of problems to be solved in a simple, innovative and beautiful way – preferably exploring new technologies, materials and processes in its creation.

About (RED)

(RED) is a nonprofit organization founded by Bono, lead-singer of rock band U2 and Bobby Shriver, activist, attorney and nephew of former U.S. president John F. Kennedy. The nonprofit organization partners with the iconic brands to raise money to fight HIV / AIDS in Africa through the Global Fund. In this case, for every (MONTBLANC M)RED writing instrument and accessory purchased, 5 Euros will go to the Global Fund to support HIV/AIDS programmes, that’s enough for instance to provide over 25 days of life-saving HIV medication. (RED) supported global fund grants have impacted nearly 110 million people with prevention, treatment, counseling, HIV testing and care services.