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

Shooters v. Nats

The party of the bush is neither listening nor thinking

The hyperbole machine

Social media and streaming services are changing what and how we watch

‘Zebra and Other Stories’ by Debra Adelaide

Difficult-to-grasp characters populate this new collection

The right reverts to form after Christchurch

Insisting that both sides are to blame does nothing to arrest far-right extremism


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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Fiction masterpiece

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© Chris Harvey

Architecture masterpiece

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Opera masterpiece

Neil Armfield - ‘Peter Grimes’, 2009


Read on

The hyperbole machine

Social media and streaming services are changing what and how we watch

The right reverts to form after Christchurch

Insisting that both sides are to blame does nothing to arrest far-right extremism

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Making the private public: ‘The Seventies’ by Michelle Arrow

This new history traces how the decade’s redefined politics shaped modern Australia

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Hell hath no fury: Karyn Kusama’s ‘Destroyer’

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