Internationally acclaimed Australian designer Marc Newson designed, developed and realized the Kelvin 40 Jet, a futuristic concept airplane funded by the Fondation Cartier.
Marc Newson is famous for his great diversity and inexhaustible productivity, he has designed in diverse arenas, including, electronic devices, uniforms, furniture, kitchen appliances, the sky bed on the Qantas A380, and even a private jet, the futuristic Kelvin 40 Jet. This visionary project was realized in 2004, yet 10 years after it still remains as inspiring as it was back then.
Following the success of his first exhibition at the “Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain” the “Set of 5 Bucky chairs” presented in 1995 , the Fondation Cartier invited the designer for a second round in 2004, giving him carte blanche to present whatever excites him.
For this exhibition, Marc Newson presented a very complex and extravagant project, the Kelvin 40 jet, widely considered as one of Newson’s masterpieces. The Kelvin 40 Jet combines the designer’s personal aesthetic with his passion for the research and the industry of aeronautics and aviation. A field that he has become familiar with through years of study, and one that has greatly influenced his work.
Kelvin 40 is Marc Newson’s ideal airplane. It is named for the central character of Andrei Tarkovsky’s film Solaris and for Lord Kelvin, the 19th-century mathematician and physicist known for his research in thermodynamics.
The Kelvin 40 Jet is made of aluminum and composite materials, and is indeed defining project for the Australian designer, which took over a year to complete. The tiny futuristic looking jet features hand-formed panels, patiently adjusted and riveted, engine components donated by Snecma, a manufacturing group that specializes in propulsion systems, aeronautics and space equipment, and a beautiful and functional cockpit. Kelvin 40 is the result of detailed analyses and painstaking studies made by Newson on the resistance of materials, the balancing of masses and proportions-the requirements of high technology. Marc Newson and the Fondation Cartier to carried out aerodynamic simulations (both digital and in the wind tunnel) to test the Kelvin 40.
The Kelvin 40 never performed a test flight “But getting off the ground was never the goal for the 40, which has no commercial reason for being, it is pure fun” according to Newson.
It was his way of injecting emotion back into the world of personal aircraft, which in his view has become banal. “The world of civil aviation appears to us as pragmatic and rational and boring, which is absurd, when you think how exciting the experience of flying is” days Newson.
Indeed the Kelvin 40 Jet is an inspiring project, it puts our imagination into motion and directs us to make “what if” thoughts on the future of personal aviation, could airplanes ever be as widely available and accessible as cars?