An Apple Design Wizard Crafts a Shotgun for BerettaPaul M. Barrett
Last month Apple proudly announced it had hired Australian-born aesthetic guru Marc Newson to join the tech company’s legendary stable of designers. He’s about to come out with a decidedly low-tech masterpiece: a high-end engraved shotgun to be produced by the Italian firearm manufacturer Beretta.
It would be difficult to find two companies at more distant positions on the spectrum of corporate culture and product focus. Apple is known for innovative digital devices and phones, with a history built on sleek computers. The company, founded by the late Steve Jobs, is the epitome of Silicon Valley cool.
Beretta, still owned by the Beretta family, traces its roots to the early 16th century and makes metal-and-wood tools that, by design, kill living things. OK, sometimes Beretta’s guns merely propel ammunition through targets. Even at the range, though, shooters are simulating the exercise of lethal force. And as for materials, yes, some modern pistols are made from industrial-strength plastic, but the guts of even the most up-to-date small arms haven’t changed much for generations: pull trigger … bang!
Best known for dreaming up highly functional components for aircraft, Newson has earned international fame and moves in celebrity circles. Last year, U2 front man Bono asked him to collaborate with Jonathan Ive, Apple’s senior vice president for design, on a series of items for the Red charity auction at Sotheby’s to raise money to fight AIDS and other diseases in Africa. Newson and Ive came up with an inventory “ranging from a one-off Hermes red leader saddle and a white Steinway grand piano with a red inside lid to a red version of the cutting-edge Mac Pro tower desktop computer,” the Financial Times reported.
The collaboration with Ive must have gone well, as this September, Apple announced that London-based Newson would join the tech titan. The Beretta shotgun project was already well under way and must have been basically completed by the time Apple made its announcement. The Italian firearm maker is set to launch the product in coming weeks, Dezeen reports:
“Newson’s design will be released on 13 November, when the gun is officially unveiled at an event in London. It will be a version of the existing 486 Parallelo – a 12-gauge side-by-side game gun that features a round body receiver and lavish engravings. Beretta currently produces 1,500 weapons a day, with ‘sporting firearms’ counting for an estimated 90 per cent of production. Its repertoire includes shotguns, pistols and rifles. American Armed Forces and State Police Forces started using the Beretta 92 pistol series in 1985.”
Likely to receive criticism from anti-gun activists, Newson joins a long tradition of artists applying their skills to beautify firearms, as Bloomberg Businessweek has reported in other contexts.