Tom Dixon – English Furniture Designer

Posted on 16th September 2011 in English Furniture Designers

Tom Dixon – Tom Dixon is a modern day, self-taught designer, born in 1959 in Sfax, Tunisia, he later moved to England when he was four years old where he discovered a particular love and talent in welding repairing damaged motorcycle frames that led him to bigger design challenges in adulthood.

His talent progressed to the point that he was considered a designer of merit when his S-Chair was produced by Giulio Cappellini 1991. It was during this time he also opened his own manufacturing company Eurolounge, and designed the Pylon Chair in 1991, again for Cappellini who produced it in 1992. He continued his exploration with this kind of production method and materials through his use of welding, manufacturing a hand-formed extruded chair in 2002.

In 1997, he became the head designer for the Habitat furniture chain stores and Artek, a Finnish furniture manufacturer. He left Habitat in 2008 however, he has remained with Artek, which was initially started by Alvar Aalto. As part owner, this experience is teaching him patience and a high level of craftsmanship expressed through wood.

He is also known to have a streak of altruism sometimes giving away his designs for free like the 500 EPS chairs in 2006 that he followed in the next year by giving away 1,000 blow lights in Trafalgar Square. He says his interest is in sustainability and pursues this through a unique process of buying back original Artek pieces from public institutions. He replaces them with newer versions, having found a willing and lucrative market of collectors for the older pieces.

Not content to only design furniture, he also produces accessories and lighting. One of his more recent pieces is the Void Light Mini Brass that references the Olympic medals. Available in stainless steel and copper the Void Light Mini Brass is a double-walled fixture with a concealed halogen bulb that embodies the most basic of modern design, form and function.
The Fan Chair is an interesting re-interpretation of the classic Windsor chair. The wood spindles are steamed allowing them to be thinned and bent to create the unique silhouette. Described as a maverick in the design industry, a friend described him as a “vertebrate designer”.

“That means that I design from the bones outwards and am not really interested in surface.”

While he has never received formal training, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Birmingham City University in 2004 and awarded an OBE for his work for the British Design in 2000.
Currently, he has a company called Art and Technology which owns the furniture lines Artek and Tom Dixon. He also hasa design studio, Design Research. He continues to evolve his design and is currently exploring blow moulding, and vacuum metalizing.

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