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This ar­chi­tect-de­signer cre­ates hon­est, ev­ery­day fur­ni­ture with a uni­ver­sal ap­peal.

Amer­i­can-born de­signer Sean Dix be­lieves that ar­chi­tects should be in charge of ev­ery de­sign de­tail of their projects. This is why both in­te­rior- and fur­ni­ture de­sign come nat­u­rally to him. “Some­times, I use in­te­rior de­sign projects as an ex­cuse to de­sign cus­tom fur­ni­ture. Th­ese de­signs will usu­ally end up in a fur­ni­ture col­lec­tion later on,” he shares.

One de­sign of his that has been used in res­i­den­tial and F&B spa­ces is the Tomoko chair and stool. They are “solid, clean and min­i­mal, and don’t com­pete with the de­sign of the space” – much like most of his work. Sean also only uses Amer­i­can hard­woods such as wal­nut, ash or oak as they are more durable.

While his de­signs fea­ture vin­tage ref­er­ences, his work is mainly in­flu­enced by the cul­tures of the places he has lived in (Fiji, the Philip­pines, Chicago and Mi­lan), along with prac­ti­cal con­sid­er­a­tions. “My style comes through in sub­tle ways – in my un­der­stand­ing of ma­te­ri­als, my de­sire to make things that are hon­estly priced and long-last­ing, and al­ways con­sid­er­ing the con­text in which some­thing will be used,” he says.

Sean is cur­rently work­ing on mul­ti­ple projects across Asia – four restau­rants, a tai­lor shop, and three pri­vate res­i­dences – and says the fast work­ing pace in the re­gion en­er­gises him. “I’m a pretty slow thinker,” he re­veals. “Asia’s given me a good kick in the pants and forced me to work a lot faster.” Af­ter 15 years in Europe (and clients such as Moschino and Har­rods to his name), Sean de­cided to up­root his Mi­lan-based de­sign firm Dix to Hong Kong in 2008. “I knew there was a lot to learn here, so I moved to the ‘Mi­lan of Asia’,” he quips.

Sean also proudly states that his high­qual­ity pieces are made in China with the help of a trusted man­u­fac­turer. How­ever, he re­veals that he first had to over­come some cul­tural dif­fer­ences to work well with the Chi­nese. “I use pro­fan­i­ties when I’m ex­cited, and I was told that in the be­gin­ning, it was all the work­ers un­der­stood – or mis­un­der­stood,” he laughs. “I’ve learnt to be a lot more easy-go­ing!”

Sean Dix on the Copine chair, which was in­spired by vin­tage school chairs.

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