Tom Dixon started his career playing in a band Funkapolitan in the mid 1980s at a time when the punk movement liberated British youth, giving them licence to create without formal training.
Teaching himself how to weld, Dixon explored the potential of recycled materials such as railings, concrete reinforcement bars and saucepans to create eccentric and provocative objects. "I was immediately hooked on welding... It had none of the seriousness of craft and none of the pomposity of design: it was industry. It suited my impatience perfectly...giving me the opportunity to build, destroy, adjust and remake structures instantly".
In 1988 Tom created the gold Spiral Light which 'sparked off an enduring passion and interest in lighting objects". He then turned his attention to ready-made forms, such as a traffic bollard which was to become the Jack Light in 1994 - an immediate success. Technology was increasingly called into play to feed his increased interest in industrial techniques and batch production.
But it is thanks to his "S" chair that Dixon was really launched onto the international scene in the late '80s. Evolving from early prototypes woven with recycled rubber and later, raffia, it was then developed for industrial production as Dixon was approached by the Italian furniture design company, Cappellini, his first encounter with mass production. Launched by Cappellini with a vibrant felt upholstered covering in 1989, the "S" chair quickly reached iconic status.
After this first encounter with mass production, Tom continued to design for Cappellini and from 1998 was also the Head of Creative Design at Habitat , and subsequently as its Creative Director until 2008. "Being at Habitat really was like university, in a way," Dixon says. "It taught me everything about what goes alongside design to deliver it… It's about quality, functionality and pure commerce."
Simultaneously, Dixon started a company in 2002 which developed a collection of his contemporary furniture and lighting (including the cult 'Mirror Ball' range) - all branded with a clean and stark graphic of his name. These were an immediate success and were later joined by a collection of lights designed for the digital age conceived on a computer and manufactured through digital-dependent manufacturing techniques.
Having recently moved from Portobello Dock to Kings Cross in an historical complex, The Coal Office, Tom has a new flagship shop, showroom, office, restaurant and café, a symbol of the dynamism of one of Britain's greatest creative minds, and indeed one of the world's leading designers.
Springing from the early days when Tom described his work was "an exercise in dissatisfaction with factory-made furniture", Tom Dixon's brand today covers 600 products distributed in over 65 countries.