Tom Dixon was born in 1959 and is one of Britain’s best-known and most highly regarded product designers. Tom Dixon founded his studio in the 1980s following his discovery of the pleasures of welding while repairing damaged motorcycle frames. He is now one of Britain’s leading masters of design, having also produced accessible, high quality objects as Head of Design at Habitat from 1998 to 2008 in addition to his role as Creative Director at Artek, the Finnish furniture company founded by Alvar and Aino Aalto. His current practice, the Tom Dixon brand – lighting and furniture design and manufacturing – was established in 2002.
In his own words, and with hundreds of comparative illustrations, this self-taught designer illuminates the often surprising ideas behind his finished pieces. Dixon transforms notions of plumpness observed in a painting of an overfed pig into an overstuffed sofa; or a fishpan from a Chinese supermarket literally into the seat of a chair; gigantic concrete sea defences on the coast of Japan become the distinctive shape of his famous stacked Jack Light.
On an early 1980s chair, made from welded scrap metal and other found objects, Dixon observes:
“I really didn’t much like the Sex Pistols, they were aggressive and confontational. But, I do have to admit their influence. They taught a whole generation that you didn’t need a certificate to practice or a degree to be successful. I’d been a musician and I took some of that attitude into furniture.”
Dixonary is, in Dixon’s words, “a simple picture book with short ‘stories’ attached–stories that present in an ordered and bite-sized way an approximately chronological sweep through the last three decades of topics and techniques that interest me and the things I have made.”
In personal and accessible notes on each of the 150 pieces reproduced, Dixon offers insights, explanations and the occasional post-rationalisation into his unique and uninhibited design process. Works range from ephemeral handcrafted rarities incorporating salvaged materials, rubber or tissue paper, to mass-produced icons such as the S-Chair, manufactured by Cappellini and now in the collection of The Museum of Modern Art.