The Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences acknowledges Australia’s First Nations Peoples as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of the land and gives respect to the Elders – past and present – and through them to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are advised that the MAAS website contains a range of Indigenous Cultural Material. This includes artworks, artifacts, images and recordings of people who may have passed away, and other objects which may be culturally sensitive.
2001/112/1 Chair, 'Embryo', polyurethane / steel / 'bielastico' fabric, designed by Marc Newson, Sydney, made by Cappellini, Italy, 1988-2000. Click to enlarge.

‘Embryo’ chair by Marc Newson

Made by Cappellini in Italy, Europe, C.2000.
This chair represents the international success enjoyed by Australian designer Marc Newson. Since graduating from Sydney College of the Arts in 1984, he has worked in Japan, Italy, France and London. He has designed furniture, lighting, interiors, watches, homewares, a bike, a concept car and a jet. He appears regularly in international design journals and his work is represented in collections thoughout the world.

The Powerhouse Museum has supported Newson since early in his career, acquiring one of his first chairs, the 'Marc 1', in 1985 and commissioning the 'Embryo' chair in 1988 for the exhibition 'Take a seat'. The original 'Embryo' (object number 88/661), covered in bright pink neoprene wet suit fabric, received wide publicity when first shown. Like the 'Lockheed Lounge', it has since become one of Newson's signature pieces and a twentieth century design icon. This chair provides an example of a later production model as a complement to the original 'Embryo'.

Like the 'Orgone' and the 'Wood' chair of the same year, the 'Embryo' represents an important milestone in Newson's career, a watershed between his Sydney and international practices. Stylistically, it falls between the 'Insect' chair of 1986 and the 'Felt' and 'Wicker' chairs of 1989-90. The 'Embryo' has been produced by de de ce in Sydney, Idee in Toyko, and the large Italian company Cappellini, testament to its continuing status as a significant example of twentieth century design. The 'Embryo' complements the museum's current holdings of Newson's work in furniture, lighting, watches and homewares. The museum also has prototypes and drawings, including a sketchbook for the 'Embryo' (object number 90/724-1/).


Object No.


Object Statement

Chair, 'Embryo', polyurethane / steel / 'bielastico' fabric, designed by Marc Newson, Sydney, made by Cappellini, Italy, 1988-2000

Physical Description

Chair of curved, rounded 'hourglass' shape made from injection-moulded polyurethane foam on a steel frame and covered in dark blue 'bielastico' fabric. There are three tubular steel legs, one connected to the back and two front legs connected through voids on either side of the chair front to the inner frame.





800 mm


800 mm


1000 mm



Cappellini Italy, Europe C.2000


The 'Embryo' chair was designed by Marc Newson for the 1988 Powerhouse Museum exhibition 'Take a Seat'. Sketches for the design are in Newson's sketchbook (object number 90/724-1/1) and various loose drawings. Stylistically, the 'Embryo' is linked to the 'Insect' chair (1986) and the 'Felt' and 'Wicker' chairs of the following two years. The 'hourglass' form of the 'Embryo' became Newson's signature shape and was elaborated in many subsequent designs.

The chair was made by Cappellini in Italy. Since 1988 Embryo chairs have been made by de de ce in Sydney, Idee in Tokyo, and most recently again by Cappellini. This chair was probably manufactured in 2000.


Credit Line

Purchased 2001

Acquisition Date

19 November 2001

Cite this Object


'Embryo' chair by Marc Newson 2018, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 28 May 2020, <>


{{cite web |url= |title='Embryo' chair by Marc Newson |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=28 May 2020 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}

Know more about this object?


Have a question about this object?