Instigator. Innovator. Design raconteur. Tom Dixon is one of Fab’s absolute design heroes, thanks to his impactful furniture and lighting that tell stories of design and production process as well as the heritage of British craftsmanship.
We’re thrilled to unveil our new collaboration with the influential designer, which resulted in a cool collection of posters and T-shirts. Each one is printed with exclusive graphics made by Dixon himself. Some depict vibrant Victorian illustrations of plant life curling around colorless, Machine Age-esque renderings of innovations like a penny-farthing bicycle or a printing press. Others favor a more futuristic vibe, presenting a smattering of cell-like shapes, geometric orbs, and beams of neon lights floating in outer space. Together, the images suggest that there’s beauty in all kinds of creations, both natural and manmade.
To get a more in-depth understanding of the fodder that fuels his boldly unconventional work, we caught up with the multi-hyphenate to chat about the importance of good design, the shifting technological landscape, and his fondness for traditional craft.
Fab: Like us, you believe in making design accessible to the masses. Delivering stellar work through T-shirts and posters definitely fits the bill. But you go one step further—you’ve been known to give away your stuff. Why is it so important for everyone to be able to enjoy well-designed products?
TD: Giving away product is a multifaceted idea—sometimes I pretend to be Robin Hood, other times I mimic the business practices of US giants like Google, where you can give your core product away because you’re actually selling something else. It’s an effective way to become popular! In the end, I like to inhabit many different worlds—from luxury goods to Not-For-Profit.
These graphics seem to have underlining themes of discovery and inventive use of materials. Where do you start when you begin working on a new concept?
It’s sort of indivisible in my mind—all too often in contemporary design, shape comes too easily from the constraints and possibilities of digital programs. I have always been just as interested in the underlying structure and construction of objects, as I was interested in the manufacturing process and its end result.
One thing that’s so special about your products is that they carry an imprint of traditional craft, which has been reinvented in a completely modern, sometimes even futuristic way. What role does heritage and history play in your design?
I like the idea that there is a lineage in what we do and that there still are national characteristics and attitudes that inform my aesthetic. It would be a shame if all design harbored a single global look.
Is there any new material or manufacturing method you’re obsessed with at the moment?
It’s clear that there is a new digital industrial revolution happening at the moment—never has it been more possible for designers and people with ideas to put their dreams and innovations into production and access a global market. That’s what’s so interesting about collaborating with Fab—we stand to challenge an old-fashioned and slow business model.