Travel Talk with Marc Newson

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Feb 21, 2017

by DI WEBSTER, Managing Editor

For Qantas’s creative director of design, the pointy end of the plane isn’t always relaxing...

How much time do you spend travelling?

I take at least two long-haul flights a month, mostly to California – where I’ve been doing a lot of work with Apple – maybe one to Australia and one to Japan or China. I travel pretty much every week within Europe. 

What’s the secret to a stress-free journey?

Going to the lounge well in advance. If you get to the airport early, you can chill out. And, generally, having a routine before you travel, which obviously includes packing. 

How far out from a trip do you start to pack?

Often, half an hour – but I’ve got it down to a fine art and I have kind of a system.

Which is?

I have a checklist of the important things: phone chargers, passport, stuff like that. I have my wardrobe organised so I start at the top and work my way around. I go through each drawer. I’m so obsessed with packing that I designed my own suitcases.

Do you roll or fold?

I fold.

Is there a secret to travelling light?

Being logical and knowing what you’re going to wear on what day. Usually you know who you’re going to see, what you’re going to be doing, if you’re going to be in a relaxed or corporate environment and if you’re going to be in the sun or the snow.

What’s your routine on a long-haul flight?

I’ve been trying to manage sleeping at the right time. As hard as I try, I doze off when I’m meant to be awake and vice versa.

Trying to adapt to the time zone you’re going to…

Exactly. Sometimes I manage but other times I have far too much red wine, eat too much and do all the things you’re not supposed to.

What do you wear on the plane?

Sleep suits [laughs]. The pyjamas are one of the best inventions ever. Whoever came up with that idea is a genius.

Aisle or window?

Window, always. I love windows.

You designed the cabin interior of Qantas’s A380, including the seats. Do you ever sit there and think, “Oh, I could have done this differently”?

Always. It’s the sole source of inspiration for me, looking around and going, “Oh, I could have...” If everything was great, you wouldn’t have to do anything about it.

Can you sleep on the plane?

If I’m lucky enough to have a lie-flat bed, I can. It depends on the carrier. I always sleep on Qantas aircraft because we invented that fantastic mattress. I still think it makes all the difference.

What was the last film you watched midair?

Free State of Jones, starring Matthew McConaughey. It was okay, not incredible. I watch a lot of movies on planes; it’s a great time to zone out.

Do you find you’re more emotional in the air?

That’s a really interesting point. You cry and laugh more. It must have something to do with being at altitude. There has to be a physiological explanation. Other people I’ve mentioned it to look at me like I’m odd. 

Have you ever missed a plane?

One or two. I got on the wrong plane once and they let me on! I was going from London to Milan and ended up in Düsseldorf. I realised as soon as I’d boarded that there was something strange. I knew the type of plane I was supposed to be on – and Germans dress a lot differently to Italians.

What do you never leave home without? 

A sketchbook. It travels with me everywhere. It’s like a diary for me.

SEE ALSO: Travelling with Rufus Wainwright