Known as the self-taught ‘accidental’ designer, Tom Dixon has become a household name within the design industry. Based in London, the brand is recognised by an iconic and truly unique industrial aesthetic, and brings to life furniture, lighting, fragrances, and a variety of household accessories. Humble and unexpected beginnings were the catalyst for this design journey, which we’ve delved into below. Read on and learn more about the man and brand, Tom Dixon.
It all started whilst performing in the funk-disco group, Funkapolitan – haha lol. Able to make a living through Friday and Saturday night gigs, Tom had plenty of time left over to spend on other things. He happened upon welding, which woke the sleeping designer inside and launched what would soon be an international design house, known all over the world. Without a plan, but harbouring a do-it-yourself attitude, he created and sold bits and pieces to the various connections made whilst gigging.
Early pieces by Tom Dixon were raw, industrial, and incredibly resourceful, and drew attention the world over. His Plomber chair, made of copper piping and elbow joints, was sold in bulk to shoe designer, Patrick Cox, whilst the prototype of the iconic S-chair – which is still in production today – was crafted from steel sheeting, wrapped in black gaffer tape.
Dixon’s more recent designs are greatly refined, and constructed from contemporary – and more reliable – materials. The gaffer tape, that’s a thing of the past. What does remain is the visual juxtaposition of industrial themes alongside luxurious elements – there’s a hidden elegance to be discovered in every Tom Dixon piece. The Melt lighting collection, as an example, is composed of a disfigured and jarring silhouette, yet is sculpted into beauty through glossy finishes like copper, gold, and silver.
The brand is based out of London, in their Coal Office HQ. Being somewhat of an homage to where it all began for Dixon, the brick walled building is peppered with gorgeous black-framed windows, and is an inspiring place for experimentation, innovation, and collaboration. The top floor is dedicated to studio spaces and offices, which are of course furnished and decorated with the Tom Dixon range – what a dream!
The building also houses a gallery and store where the brand displays its range of furniture, lighting and accessories. The space is broken into a network of sections, including a lighting shop, perfumery, furniture shop, haberdashery and factory, all against a backdrop of industrial raw brick. The space also houses a restaurant in its furthest wing, where the tableware is available for purchase, and the recipes shared.
From humble hobby-welding beginnings to being stocked in over 68 countries – with an interior design business on the side – Tom Dixon has grown to be a highly valued brand and designer. With a solid self-defined style, and a background void of strict design training, his work is iconic, breaking boundaries and rules like they never existed, bringing a harmonic tension to homes, buildings, and spaces around the world. The era of Dixon’s designs continues with ongoing innovation released regularly from the brand’s London Coal Offices. His contribution to the modern design world has been paramount to the development of the industry, and one worth keeping an eye on.