Chat in a Chair: Tom Dixon
Earlier this year we were fortunate enough to meet Tom Dixon at an intimate dinner held by our special friends at dedece, for the unveiling of his new range. Arent&Pyke have a long-standing relationship with dedece, and we covet the iconic Tom Dixon design pieces that they vend. So, to be privy to such a special event was an opportunity not to be missed. Even better – we got to have a one-on-one chat (in a chair) with him the next day – which was quite the treat given that he flew in and out of Sydney in just 48 hours!
To celebrate all of this, we thought it would be a scandal not to mark the event with a special giveaway. Team Arent&Pyke all have a fondness for the Tom Dixon Offcut Stool… so we had Tom sign one for us, in the Tom Dixon signature fluorescent orange, and we are going to give it away to one of you! Read on…
Fresh out of high-school Tom formed a disco-punk band called Funkapolita, but after breaking his leg in a biking accident turned his attention to repairing and welding bikes, which was where his burgeoning love of transforming metals was born. And he hasn’t stopped.
With one hand Tom industriously celebrates centuries of manufacturing tradition (traditional & industrialised processes), while with the other he’s quietly experimenting to create new processes to create unique new products.
While wide ranging in design, style and function, all Tom Dixon products are imbued with his trademark personality. Despite the seriousness of their design, and the processes they represents – they carry a sense of nostalgia and fun that makes them seem more accessible. Case in point is the Jack – a symbol for which Tom Dixon is so well known, and also one that conjures up the innocent fun of childhood. This award winning ‘sitting, stacking, lighting thing’ was first launched to make a point about manufacturing and production methods. There is always this kind of deep consideration behind his pieces over and above their bare aesthetics.
We started by asking Tom about the Jack Light, as it is such a recognisable symbol of his brand.
IN/OUT: We’ve photographed you here with the Jack Light. It’s both a seat and a light. Was it always meant to be both?
TD: It’s a bit chicken and the egg. It’s a symbolic object for me, as it was my first move into industry in ’94, to show industrial manufacture was still possible in the UK at that time. The initial thought was to replace a lamp that was made out of paper, and constantly damaged in transit… so yes, I guess it did begin as a lamp.
IN/OUT: We know it is hard to but can you name a favourite piece from your own work?
TD: My favourite pieces are often the pieces that I am making next, rather than what I have already done. It’s even hard to talk about the current range, which is already a year old to me. I always find it more interesting to think about what is coming up next.
What I’ve noticed – with some of my slightly more successful pieces – is that people see them in a very different way to how I did when I designed them. It’s kind of nice when people put their own reading to it. What someone might view as very ‘60s, another sees as space age, or masculine, or more feminine. My departure point might have been more about the mathematics and geometry.
IN/OUT: How many Tom Dixon items do you have in your own home?
TD: As few as possible! I think I spent a lot of time living in the studio – so it is nice to be surrounded by things from other worlds, objects from travels. And definitely a lot of things that have great memories for me – like my grandmother’s furniture. She had a small collection of intricate 18th Century furniture. These are amongst my favourite things.
I try to coach my staff to go and see more art – it can be dangerous to be surrounded by too much of your own work.
IN/OUT: At the concept stage, do you like to work alone or do you rely on your team.
TD: In the main, I quite like working alone on concepts. And then, later, I like working with a team, as it can be good to work in opposition to what everyone else is saying. It’s good to have an argument. I work with a team – but I have strong ideas about the product design. I can sometimes spend a bit of time battling to bring people back to where my ideas started from in the first instance. Working in creative teams, people will always have their own ideas.
IN/OUT: You seem to spend a lot of time representing your self and talking about your product. Is it important to you to do that?
TD: I travel a lot. I am as much interested in the manufacturing of my work as I am the design – so I travel to India, China, and all over. This is one of the most interesting parts of the job. Then of course, the marketing is also important. I am the brand, and the principal, so I do need to talk about what I am doing.
IN/OUT: The new Eclectic range, it seems, is everywhere in Australia. Was that the aim – to make it more accessible?
TD: It is good to have the more solid pieces as a substantial base. If we had started with accessories, things would not have played out the same way, and our aesthetic would say something else. I see the furniture and lighting as selling to professionals, and the type of buyer who ultimately owns their home. The intention was definitely there to offer smaller, faster moving objects with Eclectic. There is a plan; we are doing it one building block at a time. Next, it would be great to do surfaces – floors and walls. This is just the beginning, and it is exciting.
IN/OUT: If you could click your fingers and be anywhere in the world – where would it be?
TD: I’m quite happy here! I always prefer seeing things and places that are new to me. So, giving it more thought – I’ve never been to Mexico. I’d like to be there. I’d also like to go skiing in Kashmir – it’s a bit hot in Sydney. Or Iran. I’d quite like to go there too.
So, now about that stool!
We have an original Offcut stool signed by Tom Dixon himself to give away. All you have to do is Snap Your Space. We’d like to see where you would put this stool if you won. Get creative and clever – and show us a little corner of your house, office, studio or a special sunny spot that could use a bit of Tom Dixon sparkle. Easy, right?
Our special judge will be superstar photographer Luisa Brimble, who captured these great shots of Tom (as well as most of our Chat in a Chair series). She is also a regular contributor to Kinfolk Magazine and is the founder of the soon-to-be-launched Alphabet Family Journal. Luisa has an eye for intimate detail and is as obsessed as we are with getting a glimpse into the lives of people and their creative spaces. Who better to decide on where this stool will reside in the future we say!
1. You must follow @arentpyke_inout and @luisabrimble on Instagram
2. You must tag your instagram photos with @arentpyke_inout and @luisabrimble
3. You must hash-tag your photos with #chatinachair and #snapyourspace
3. You may enter any number of times
4. Competition opens 6am AEDST on Wednesday 22nd May and closes at midnight AEDST on Monday 27th May 2013.
5. The winner will be announced on Wednesday 29th May 2013. The judges’ decision is final.
6. Delivery of the chair is only available Australia wide.
7. Full T&C’s are available here