Interview with Tom Dixon

Tom DixonIf my father met Tom Dixon, he would immediately nickname the London-based designer ‘baby face’. With his mop of curly locks, tall lanky frame and self-deprecating sense of humour, Dixon epitomises the youthful energy of an emerging talent.

Instead, the 58-year-old self-taught creator, who dropped out of Chelsea School of Art to play bass in Funkapolitan during late 70s London, has a long list of accolades. Collaborations with some of Italy’s best known furniture houses including his S chair for Cappellini? Check. A decade of experience heading up Sir Terence Conran’s curated lifestyle shop Habitat? Check. Hung out with the Queen when he received his OBE in 2001? Check. Products displayed in the world’s most famous museums including the V&A, MoMA and Pompidou? Check, check, check.

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Naturally, Dixon is no stranger to Hong Kong. “The city is a hub for Asia,” he professes while in town during the launch of his flagship shop on Hollywood Road; he collaborated with Joanne Chow of BoConcept on the retail venture. “There is a big international community here. Joanne picked the location; this used to be a Ralph Lauren shop. Everyone knows about Hollywood Road. We aren’t in a shopping mall; we are at the nexus of five different roads and threads, if you include the Mid-levels escalators nearby. Here, we have several overlapping businesses on the go.”

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Tom Dixon Shop

With glam nightclub Tazmanian Ballroom designed for party guru Gilbert Yeung established in 2010 and slick steak house Alto for Dining Concepts opening last year, design-savvy Hongkongers already consider Dixon a household name. It helps that Lane Crawford has a dedicated section for his products in its home department. After the May opening of his own standalone shop, Dixon feels that he can now showcase his designs in the proper context. “I was nervous at first—did I have a broad enough range of products to justify my own retail shop? The success of our Manhattan shop gave me confidence that with the right location and the right team in place, we can do the same in Hong Kong. It is important to show products in context, and with narratives that reinforce my concepts. Lighting, for example, was difficult to show previously at Lane Crawford.” 

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The flagship shop also includes the Tom Dixon office headed by general manager Antti Hirvonen, which was relocated from its former quarters in PMQ. Dixon admits that despite being on a highly visible corner shop with two storeys to play with, the shop only showcases roughly 50 percent of his entire range. “It is an edited version,” Dixon notes. “With space at a premium here, it’s difficult to put everything in.” On the ground level, a prominent shop front displays key furniture pieces in a styled setting, while one side shows his wide range of lifestyle accessories including Eclectic, a new range of fragrant tea-scented candles with white marble stands.

Tom Dixon

Tom Dixon Shop

A large table behind the central staircase helps to facilitate informal meetings, client presentations or private lunches and dinners. Upstairs, larger pieces and lighting are set off by the high ceilings; a large coffee bar takes up a corner of the space and offers barista-quality coffee by local brand Nodi. “The bar lets people slow down over a cup of really good coffee,” explains Dixon. The second level can also double as an event space for future collaborations with the area’s many art galleries and boutiques.

“Hong Kong is a mature, cosmopolitan market with an Anglophile nature,” Dixon believes. “Like New York or London, it has the critical mass. It has finance, trade and fashion, and is at unique crossroads. It is an epicentre. That is why our office for the region is here.”

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