October 2011

Arts & Letters

Design masterpiece

By Alan Saunders
Marc Newson - ‘Qantas A380 Economy Seat’, 2008

Most designers like to design a chair or two in their career. Marc Newson began his with the famous Lockheed Lounge in 1986 and went on to create the quirky Embryo Chair a couple of years later, with which he thought he had achieved a discernible style. He’s done quite a few more but perhaps the most sat upon will be the economy seat he designed for the new Qantas A380 (and which won the 2009 Australian International Design Award of the Year). It’s a beautiful piece of work, very Newson in its retro-futurist look and curvaceous sculpted carbon-fibre backshell.

He designed the fabrics too, in hues of red, green and terracotta to represent the Australian landscape. The ergonomics are particularly inviting for the long-haul passenger: plenty of leg room and cushioning designed for side-sleep (the position passengers are most likely to adopt). The electronics include PC power, USB and internet ports, an in-seat phone and a wide-screen monitor. Newson has touched nearly every aspect of the A380 interior – from cabin layout to cutlery – so this beautiful seat contributes to a very cohesive design. It almost makes you want to spend 20 hours in the air.

—Alan Saunders

Alan Saunders
Alan Saunders was a writer, philosopher and broadcaster who contributed to the Sydney Morning Herald, the Bulletin and other publications. He was a presenter on ABC Radio National for 25 years where his programs included The Philosopher’s Zone and By Design.

© Sergio Dionisio/Getty Images
Cover: October 2011

October 2011

From the front page

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg

Cold comfort

The Morrison government gave us a recession we didn’t have to have

What elitism looks like

Flagrant conflicts of interest abound at the top

Image of Guy Sebastian and Prime Minister Scott Morrison, June, 2020

And now for something completely indifferent

The Morrison government is yet to fully realise that sidelining the arts hurts the economy

Image of Anne Ferran, Scenes on the Death of Nature I, 1986

‘Know My Name’ at the National Gallery of Australia

An exhilarating exhibition considers a persistent gender bias in the visual arts


In This Issue

Scene from 'The Theft of Sita'. Image courtesy of Melbourne Festival.

Music theatre masterpiece

An Australian–Indonesian production - ‘The Theft of Sita’, 2000

Words: Shane Maloney | Illustration: Chris Grosz

Robert Helpmann & Anna Pavlova

Theatre masterpiece

Tom Wright & Benedict Andrews - ‘The War of the Roses’, 2009

The incendiary Meow Meow, 2011. © Magnus Hastings

Queen of the night

Meeting Meow Meow


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Dividing the Tasman: ‘Empire and the Making of Native Title’

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Shirley Hazzard’s wider world

The celebrated Australian author’s ‘Collected Stories’ sets private desperation in the cosmopolitan Europe she revered

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Citizen plain: ‘Mank’

David Fincher’s biopic of Orson Welles’s collaborating writer favours technique over heart


More in Masterpieces

Poetry masterpiece

Jennifer Maiden - ‘Friendly Fire’, 2005

Fiction masterpiece

JM Coetzee - ‘Summertime’, 2009

© Chris Harvey

Architecture masterpiece

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Opera masterpiece

Neil Armfield - ‘Peter Grimes’, 2009


Read on

What elitism looks like

Flagrant conflicts of interest abound at the top

Image of Anne Ferran, Scenes on the Death of Nature I, 1986

‘Know My Name’ at the National Gallery of Australia

An exhilarating exhibition considers a persistent gender bias in the visual arts

Image of Prime Minister Scott Morrison

Morrison’s climate flip

Australia has a lot of catching up to do on emissions reduction

Image of album artwork for Brazen Hussies soundtrack

Song sisters

The soundtrack to documentary ‘Brazen Hussies’ shows a breadth of feeling about women’s liberation in Australia


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