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
View Edition

From the front page

Image of ‘Bewilderment’

‘Bewilderment’ by Richard Powers

The Pulitzer winner’s open-hearted reworking of Flowers for Algernon, updated for modern times

Image of Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce. Images via ABC News

Morrison’s mandate

Barnaby Joyce acknowledges that a net-zero target is cabinet’s call. But what exactly is their mandate?

Image of ‘Scary Monsters’

‘Scary Monsters’ by Michelle de Kretser

Two satirical stories about fitting in, from the two-time Miles Franklin–winner

Image of Jeremy Strong as Kendall Roy in HBO’s Succession season 3. Photograph by David Russell/HBO

Ties that bind: ‘Succession’ season three

Jeremy Strong’s performance in the HBO drama’s third season is masterful


In This Issue

The boys in Girls: Christopher Owens and Chet 'JR' White.

Out of the bay

Girls’s ‘Father, Son, Holy Ghost’

Illustration by Jeff Fisher.

Garage alchemists

A dining experience at Hobart’s Garagistes

Opera masterpiece

Neil Armfield - ‘Peter Grimes’, 2009

Brian Blanchflower, 'Canopy LI (Scelsi IV), oils, wax medium, pumice powder, acrylic on laminated hessian, January-May 2001, 221 x 172 cm.LEFT: Full painting. Right: Detail.Collection of the artist. © Brian Blanchflower. Photograph by Robert Frith.

Visual art (two-dimensional) masterpiece

Brian Blanchflower - ‘Canopy LI (Scelsi I–IV)’, 2001


More in Arts & Letters

Photo: “Breakfast at Heide” (from left: Sidney Nolan, Max Harris, Sunday Reed and John Reed), circa 1945

Artful lodgers: The Heide Museum of Modern Art

The story of John and Sunday Reed’s influence on Sidney Nolan and other live-in protégés

Still from ‘The French Dispatch’

The life solipsistic: ‘The French Dispatch’

Wes Anderson’s film about a New Yorker–style magazine is simultaneously trivial and exhausting

Still from ‘Nitram’

An eye on the outlier: ‘Nitram’

Justin Kurzel’s biopic of the Port Arthur killer is a warning on suburban neglect and gun control

Detail from ‘Group IV, The Ten Largest, No. 2, Childhood’ by Hilma af Klint (1907)

A shock of renewal: ‘Hilma af Klint: The Secret Paintings’

The transcendent works of the modernist who regarded herself not an artist but a medium


More in Masterpieces

Brian Blanchflower, 'Canopy LI (Scelsi IV), oils, wax medium, pumice powder, acrylic on laminated hessian, January-May 2001, 221 x 172 cm.LEFT: Full painting. Right: Detail.Collection of the artist. © Brian Blanchflower. Photograph by Robert Frith.

Visual art (two-dimensional) masterpiece

Brian Blanchflower - ‘Canopy LI (Scelsi I–IV)’, 2001

The members of Ten Part Invention, founded by John Pochée (third from right).

Jazz masterpiece

Ten Part Invention - ‘Unidentified Spaces’, 2001

Visual art (three-dimensional) masterpiece

Hany Armanious & Mary Teague - ‘Lines of Communication’, 2010

James Ledger. © Bridget Elliot.

Classical music masterpiece

James Ledger - ‘Chronicles’, 2009


Read on

Image of Jeremy Strong as Kendall Roy in HBO’s Succession season 3. Photograph by David Russell/HBO

Ties that bind: ‘Succession’ season three

Jeremy Strong’s performance in the HBO drama’s third season is masterful

Image of a tampon and a sanitary pad viewed from above

A bloody shame: Paid period leave should be law

Australia’s workplace laws must better accommodate the reproductive body

Image of Gladys Berejiklian appearing before an ICAC hearing in October 2020. Image via ABC News

The cult of Gladys Berejiklian

What explains the hero-worship of the former NSW premier?

Cover image of ‘Bodies of Light’

‘Bodies of Light’ by Jennifer Down

The Australian author’s latest novel, dissecting trauma, fails to realise its epic ambitions