A Chat: Designer Tom Dixon Tours Australia for 20th Celebration

UK designer Tom Dixon recently toured Australia to celebrate the 20th anniversary of his eponymous collection, the perfect opportunity for a chat about his creative and design inspiration.

Are there any specific ah-ha moments that fundamentally transformed the process of any of your most renowned designs? 

I very rarely think of the final shape of an object, or the surface before I start. I am always thinking of the material possibilities, the potential of the factory, and the structure of the object, which means that I am a vertebrate designer, rather than an invertebrate!

I am inspired by just about everything – cooking and architecture, engineering, and sci fi, music and contemporary sculpture, British traditions, and travel. A designer has to be working on the edge of their comfort zone, innovating with new processes or materials or shapes or new combinations of functions to create something new … they have to be in the present.

How do you think being an untrained designer has impacted your freedom and creativity?

I try to put myself in unexpected situations so that I can refresh myself. One of these is working as a perfumier for our range of scents, which was a thrilling adventure that would have had a completely different outcome if I had been conventionally trained. In my experience everybody is different and need different levels of stimuli! I think doing it on your own can be a useful way of having a unique point of view, which in the modern world is an increasingly important quality.

Of your many designs, is there a specific one that is most important or sentimental to you and why?

I rarely feel pride – only critical of my own projects – I’m very rarely satisfied – but maybe the S-chair is the object that has been the most instrumental in my career – starting as a design made from scrap material, made then in natural materials, made by the Italian luxury brand Cappellini and then finally made again by my own company, I am still experimenting with it.

What do you consider to be the standout highlight or highlights of your career to date?

My career has been more than 20 years and I have had several lives as a designer; first doing my own metalwork as a craftsman having a metal and plastics company, then working for the Italian luxury brands, working for 10 years at Habitat before launching the brand Tom Dixon. My trajectory has been complicated and very different from other designers, and I hope it will continue to evolve and mutate in exciting ways.

Tom Dixon will be back at Salone del Mobile for the first time in nine years to present new collection. Can you tell me more about this collection?

This year we want ‘more’. More colour, more variations, more unexpected combinations in floor lamps and chandeliers, table tops and textiles to give our design aficionados a deeper and wider palette of opportunity to help build perfect interiors, which is why we call this year ‘choice’. We will be launching a brand-new category of lights – our new Portables series allows us to illuminate wherever we choose with complete adaptability.