"I would hope that trend itself would be reviewed, and a more honest, less frivolous design for a broader section of the people might emerge..."
February 4, 2009
Tom Dixon, Creative Director of Tom Dixon and Artek, talks to us about his new projects, his latest book, and the effects of the financial crisis on design trends.
Tom Dixon the brand is involved in a number of projects that have attracted a lot of attention lately. Is there any project you’d like to highlight as particularly interesting? And if so, why?
"Paramount Members Club was particularly interesting, as the building that it sits on top of, Centre Point, really is a London icon, as it was in 1967, the year it was built, the tallest building in town. It is in a style that is due for a revival - BRUTALISM, and we made a mix of contemporary and period furnishing."
"Our new task at the moment is Joseph, the international clothes label, for whom we are designing the Old Bond Street store - our first job in fashion."
[Watch a video with Tom talking about the project here.]
The collaboration with George Smith seems exciting. Could you tell us a little about the project?
"As you know, very few things, particularly furniture, are still manufactured in the UK, but the skills of traditional upholstery are still available, and valued. It seemed to make a lot of sense to see if it was possible to combine the craftsmanship with some contemporary thinking, and here is the result!"
The annual Milan Furniture Fair is soon coming up [22-27 April 2009]. What will Tom Dixon be showing this year?
"Let me see now... We have a lot of minerals, for some reason (last year was very metallic, with copper, chrome and cast iron) so this year we see a lot of Cast Glass lighting, Stone Tables and accessories, and vitreous enamel bowls and occasional tables."
Your latest book – “The Interior World of Tom Dixon” – was published a couple of months ago. Why did you write it?
"I get approached by publishers every so often, and it’s a useful discipline to try and put all your jumbled up thoughts onto paper in a more organised way. The problem is that you always underestimate the amount of pain involved in writing all of those words."
Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the environmental and ethical aspects of design and production processes. This would presumably favour a brand like Tom Dixon which is committed to innovation and sustainability, right? Have you noticed any difference in consumer behaviour during the last couple of years?
"I think that the next couple of years should see some real progress in those issues. We see a fresh attitude in the USA, and an urgency which has been lacking. For Tom Dixon this is a complicated subject, as it's always difficult to promote good practice in sustainability, whilst simultaneously selling more stuff to people - we resolve it through making longer lasting objects, with a dose of anti-fashion. In Artek [where Tom Dixon is Creative Director] however, we have a very strong platform from which to discuss and experiment in these issues, and we have been active in generating projects, like Second Cycle, which challenge existing thinking."
Last year was characterised by the turmoil in the financial sector. Consumption is now falling in most developed markets. How will high-end design cope?
"There will be a lot of casualties in this sector, just as there will in art, fashion etc – no-one is immune, but design should be more adaptable and innovative than most. If not, it deserves to fail."
Do you think that design trends in general will be affected by the financial crisis? If so, how?
"I would hope that trend itself would be reviewed, and a more honest, less frivolous design for a broader section of the people might emerge... We can dream!"