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.