In May 2016, British designer Tom Dixon created ‘The Church,’ an accessible, co-working environment in a beautiful and historic London church on Clerkenwell Green. Part of the Clerkenwell Design Week, the impressive interior makeover in the 18th century church of St. James was realized in partnership with its vicar.
“Andrew Boughan, the enlightened vicar of St James sees the potential of making his unique building available to the daytime residents of Clerkenwell – the creative workforce, and a place for the residential community to use as a resource,” according to the Tom Dixon website.
Born in Tunisia and with an English father, Tom Dixon moved to England as a child. A world-renowned interior designer, he is always on the look out for unique spaces to show off his signature furniture and lighting collections, created and sold under his eponymous brand. The church of St. James, with its lofty nave, 18th century architecture and soaring ceilings presented the perfect backdrop.
Aware of the need to bring this historic and imposing building into the 21st century, Andrew Boughan welcomed the opportunity to “open up to new audiences” and to implement unusual and “unexpected” collaborations. With comfort and accessibility in mind, the vicar and the designer together set out to provide a “contemplative and spiritual space” for those interested in art and design, as well as for the permanent residents of Clerkenwell.
Tom Dixon explains why he was so excited by the prospect of presenting his designs in St James’s Church:
“The extraordinary volumes of this heritage site will allow us to demonstrate our new lighting and furniture products launched in Milan against a series of historic backdrops – the paneled wood of the 18th century vestry, the bare stone construction of the entrance hall and the huge volumes and stained glass panels of the main church, providing us with a variety of design challenges unlike any other.”
The huge ‘Curve’ central chandelier in the nave of the church was central to the Dixon design intervention: Together with the installation of a co-working environment and a kitchen, it was designed and made to remain in St. James’s church, with all three “donated as permanent fixtures.”
The extraordinary ‘Curve’ chandelier has the necessary breadth and scope to sit within this magnificent space, without being dwarfed or diminished. It enhances its environment and adds an awe-inspiring, almost celestial dimension like a collection of bright planets against the azure blue of the ceiling.
St. James Church’s grand, imposing nave with its classical pillars and decorated Georgian-style ceiling creates a breathtaking backdrop for the ‘Curve’ chandelier, as well as a striking contrast to Dixon’s futuristic ‘Y’ white chairs and tables.
A cluster of ‘Fade’ pendant lights look ecclesiastical, like upside-down candles encased in glass and their light is reflected in the gold pigment of the ‘Bone’ and ‘Bash’ bowls on the table.
In this opulent ‘boardroom’ a collection of glorious ‘Melt’ copper pendant lights hang above ‘Wingback’ chairs and a ‘Pylon’ table.
In ‘The Church’ installation, Dixon’s designs all meld beautifully into this sacred space and they help bring contemporary life and society back into this unique and historic building.