This year marks the launch of the latest edition of the iconic and award-winning Mars Chair. Pushing the frontiers of design, the Mars has evolved over time from the original model to the sleek Mars MK3, the darker, more exclusive Mars MK4 and now the latest embodiment: the Mars MK5.
The first generation Mars was created in 2006, winning “Most Innovative Product” at the Luxuria Awards in 2010.
Tim Oulton: “The original inspiration of the Mars was to create a chair that was modern in shape and ideology but still reflected on vintage aspects as well. The Mars is vintage, contemporary and futuristic in one.”
Mars Evolves to the MK3, MK4 and the New MK5…
The Original Mars Chair
Transporting elements of Art Deco to the future of furniture design, the Mars MK1 mixed hand-moulded polished metal with Timothy Oulton’s signature aniline leathers, distressed by hand for a vintage look and feel. Its distinctive shape featured a raked back and thickly padded seat for comfort.
After the MK2 didn’t launch past prototype stage, the MK3 was launched in 2014. Leather padding was added to the arms for a warmer feel against the skin, and hand-applied screws contour the steel frame and add another visual detail.
Designer Michael Yeung, who collaborated closely with Tim Oulton on the design of the Mars, explains: “The MK1 was great as a simple, modern easy chair with a bit of vintage contrast, but we wanted to create something with a bit more detail, something more sophisticated, so the MK3 was born.”
Ltd Edition Mars MK4
Michael continues: “Then we wanted to create something more exclusive, luxurious and more contemporary, which ultimately led to the use of carbon fibre for the MK4.”
Used in the production of sports equipment, motor cars and aviation, carbon fibre is still new in the use of furniture. In 2016, the limited edition Mars MK4 was launched. Unpadded arms accentuated the sculpted carbon fibre body while soft and buttery Cherokee Black leather covered the seat and back for a rich textural contrast.
The New Mars MK5
New for 2017, the Mars is transported into the era of the classic muscle car with the industrial-looking MK5. More audacious than ever, the MK5 swaps the shiny steel curves of the original Mars for slatted brushed steel arms, inspired by the car grills of 1960s and 70s automobiles. Arms are padded for comfort in the rich touch of hand-finished leather, while the smooth seat and back of the original Mars has been replaced by thickly ribbed leather – another nod to classic automobile design. Modern, masculine form is masterfully blended with a retro feel in this latest incarnation.
A testament to exceptional and authentic craftsmanship, every detail of the Mars collection is meticulously constructed. The arms are carefully cut to shape using a laser and then curved with the aid of a bending machine. High degrees of skill and experience are required to cut the precise shape and ensure the same curve is replicated for every chair. Each metal component is then welded together and polished for around 3 hours to achieve the high shine. Hand-finished aniline leather is stretched over the wooden seat base and the final piece is assembled.
A Design Collaboration between Tim Oulton and Michael Yeung
Tim Oulton has collaborated with Michael Yeung on many key designs, including the Mars, across the Timothy Oulton collections. Drawing his inspiration from the world of mechanics and aeronautics, Michael Yeung’s core concept is ‘furniture as functional art’. He likens his work to that of a sculptor, visualizing how the light will reflect on the product and the ensuing shadow that will be cast in the room.
On Mars, Michael says: “The shape and lines of the steel arms is quite simple, and combined and contrasted with the leather seat it’s simple yet attractive at the same time – striking but not over the top. It’s that simplicity that makes it so timeless and special.” This is echoed by Tim Oulton: “The Mars is one of my favourite designs because it’s just so timeless. It will look just as good in 20 years’ time.”
Michael often draws inspiration from movies that have highly design-orientated sets, and on the evolution of Mars he says: “It’s hard to have one chair that does it all. For people who are Ironman fans, the Mars variations are similar to why Tony Stark couldn’t have one Ironman suit that did everything, he made multiple suits, all with different specialities for every situation.”
The Mars MK3 and the new MK5 are available at Timothy Oulton galleries worldwide, the Mars MK1 and Limited Edition MK4 are no longer available.