Tom Dixon’s multi-faceted UK headquarters are the newest addition to King’s Cross’ creative landscape, where visitors have the opportunity to become makers in the manufacturing process. Ben Spriggs finds out more…
A dynamic force at the forefront of the British design scene for over thirty years, Tom Dixon has created numerous iconic pieces of furniture and lighting for both international and UK firms as well as heading up creative direction for British high street stalwart Habitat. In 2002 he launched his own eponymous brand, one which has grown into a modern British institution, with products ranging from the famous Pendant lights, to sculptural furniture, textiles, home accessories and fragrance, all distributed in over 65 countries and recognisable for their sculptural qualities and precision engineering.
The latest arrival in King’s Cross’ Granary Square is Tom Dixon Studio’s new HQ, The Coal Office — described as ‘a new epicentre for design.’ Rather than a conventional, corporate head office you might expect, the space is instead a multi-disciplinary platform for creative innovation, functioning as a live studio space combining a shop, workshop and office all under one roof, alongside a restaurant and terrace.
“An open, fully-functioning workshop, where ideas can be tested out, prototypes created and customers can get involved”
“For us it was imperative not just to find a new office or shop,” says Dixon. “It was vital to find a new home. London isn’t just another city; it’s where it all started. We will use these 1,625 square metres in this incredible location as a platform to broadcast our latest ideas in interior design, product innovation and experiments in food, functionality and future living.”
Pushing the boundaries of contemporary retail, the shop found at The Coal Office will feature an evolving set of collaborations with a number of like-minded companies, initially including tie-ups with The Rug Company and brand Made A Mano. The entrance to this space is also home to The Factory, an open, fully-functioning workshop, where ideas are tested out, prototypes created and customers are offered an opportunity to get fully involved in the production process themselves from the start.
“Our Studio has been characterised from its earliest beginnings by a fascination with manufacturing, whether that be craft or heavy industry, precision digitalised machinery or handwork,” says Dixon, “and as we moved into our new hub, we felt an urgent desire to start making stuff ourselves again.”
Here, Tom Dixon Studio run sessions where it hands over the reins to its customers, offering them the opportunity to become manufacturers, join the production line and make their very own geometric ‘Etch Pendant’ light.
“As we moved into our new hub, we felt an urgent desire to start making stuff ourselves again.”
Inspired by the logic of pure mathematics, the Etch range is a series of geodesic structures made of razor-thin digitally etched metal sheets. The pendants feature a detailed pattern which casts a mass of intricate shadows when lit. Etch uses sophisticated digital acid etching methods like those used in the manufacture of extra-fine holes in metal coffee filters and speaker grills. Tom Dixon Studio, however, uses the technique to filter light. Large sheets of stainless steel or brass are first printed with an acid resistant pattern before being dipped into an acid bath which then dissolves the unexposed metal, leaving behind the instantly recognisable patterns covering the components that form the lightshade. The finely pierced flat metal sheets are then assembled like Victorian tin toys using folded tabs and slots to create the final geodesic structure that emit a soft glow.
A limited-edition batch of only 600 next-generation Etch Pendant lights will be produced solely at The Factory and assembled by the customers themselves. Sessions cost £250, last two hours and the cost includes the light, which is yours to take home afterwards. As it is a live working environment, participants will often be joined by the in-house design team (and even on occasion Tom Dixon himself).
Offering the chance to get more involved in the many activities that are usually invisible to the customer — the design process, manufacturing, decorating, product development, engineering, and logistics — this hub is a bold attempt to reveal what goes on inside and around the Tom Dixon brand rather than just present a glossy shop. For anyone with an appreciation for craftsmanship, it is an opportunity too good to pass up.
WIN A FACTORY EXPERIENCE + MAKE YOUR OWN ETCH PENDANT
For a chance to win, click here. Competition closes 30 September 2018. Tickets valid until 31 October 2018. T&C’s apply.
This article first appeared in the summer 2018 edition of King’s Cross Quarterly magazine. Read more about the people and stories that make King’s Cross, or find out where you can pick up the latest copy of King’s Cross Quarterly below.