Ever an experimenter, British designer Tom Dixon has recently revealed a new series of complementary furniture and lighting that plays with expectations of physicality and form. “FAT” is an upholstered seating range that balances the aesthetics of minimalism with unexpected comfort using materials that are much more welcoming than they appear, while “OPAL” illuminates the room with translucent globes that look lighter than air.
Making its North American debut in February 2019 on the “Big Fat America Tour,” Dixon’s new collection is designed to hug the body in a variety of seated positions. The rounded cushions on these dining chairs, lounge chairs, and bar stools encircle you with molded foam when you sit down. The London-based designer says the “extreme simplicity” of their components, including the glossy black metal bases, is a testament to form following function “while maintaining a humorous silhouette and a reductionist aesthetic.”
There’s something instantly iconic about these chairs’ shapes, particularly in this palette of black, gray, beige, and ivory. The aim of FAT, and of many other Dixon designs, is to strip out all unnecessary complexity, leaving behind a refreshingly usable object that’s also gallery-worthy in its own right. The design process played a significant role in these results, starting with quality materials and intriguing shapes and using full-sized mockups and prototypes to produce pleasing proportions.
For OPAL, Dixon formulated a custom tinted white opalescent polycarbonate for the globes to produce a ghostly ethereal effect of soft, diffused light. The spheres were then blow-molded for a shape that’s just imperfect enough to appear organic. The collection is comprised of two different-sized pendant lamps, a surface-mounted lamp, a vertical floor lamp, and an arcing floor lamp.
Dixon notes that new technologies help spur his creative approach to these new pieces, particularly when it came to lighting. The digitization of the manufacturing industry is providing designers with unprecedented freedom to experiment with innovative new materials and small production runs of concept products.
Dixon’s website reads: “Tom is a restless innovator who works mainly in lighting, accessories, and furniture. From his departure point in the early eighties welding salvaged steel into radical furniture, he has constantly reinvented himself through a series of different design lives — working on luxury Italian goods with Cappellini, Creative Director at Habitat and Artek, creating plastics company Eurolounge, and finally instigating his own eponymous brand in 2002 to rethink the product designer’s relationship with industry.”
“The latest chapter of Tom’s design journey began in 2002 when he left corporate life to create his own eponymous brand as a platform for a series of new adventures in the design of products and interiors. 15 years on, Tom Dixon is now a widely celebrated global force in interior design, with hubs in New York, Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, and Tokyo. Our 600 products range from lighting to furniture, from tableware through to fragrance, and are distributed in over 65 countries; they are instantly recognizable for their sculptural qualities and engineered materiality.”
Selected items from the FAT series of upholstered seating are available for purchase online at Tom Dixon’s shop, starting at £725 GPB (about $980 USD).