PEO­PLE – TOM DIXON

Home & Decor (Malaysia) - - CONTENTS -

Bri­tish de­signer Tom Dixon on his col­lab­o­ra­tion with IKEA.

WHEN BRI­TISH DE­SIGNER TOM DIXON AP­PROACHED IKEA FOR A COL­LAB­O­RA­TION,

HE WANTED TO MAKE A COF­FIN, ALTHOUGH THE SWEDISH FUR­NI­TURE GI­ANT THOUGHT BET­TER OF IT. THE COM­PRO­MISE RE­SULTED IN DE­LAK­TIG, A CUS­TOMIS­ABLE BED-SOFAARMCHAIR THAT DIXON DUBS ‘A PLAT­FORM FOR LIV­ING’. HOME & DECOR FINDS OUT MORE ABOUT THE DY­NAMIC DE­SIGN FROM THE MAN HIM­SELF.

From cof­fin to cus­tomis­able bed – take us through the prod­uct’s con­cep­tual evo­lu­tion. The ini­tial ap­proach was re­jected, so we started to look at Ikea’s re­search into the way peo­ple live and how it is evolv­ing. Given that I’ve got my own com­pany,

I wanted to work on a ty­pol­ogy that I wasn’t able to do my­self and that was the bed, whereas for Ikea, it wanted a sofa. So we came up with a hy­brid, and what we’re sit­ting on is the re­sult of that dis­cus­sion.

Ikea will be sell­ing the main prod­uct, but your own brand will

be sell­ing lux­ury ‘pimp your bed’ add-ons, like an elec­tric blue 100% wool throw – how do you think peo­ple will re­ceive them?

That’s kind of the point of the ex­per­i­ment. How you cover the prod­uct up, adapt and change it to suit what­ever part of life you’re in – it all de­pends on the cus­tomer, right? The idea was driven partly by the con­ver­sa­tion we had about how fur­ni­ture, par­tic­u­larly so­fas and beds, are made from sta­pled frames that are usu­ally hid­den un­der up­hol­stery and tex­tiles. But with the De­lak­tig, we’ve kind of done the op­po­site – we’ve made the higher-qual­ity alu­minium frame the hero of the piece; it’s ac­tu­ally the first thing that you see. And that, too, is a de­par­ture point for both the af­ford­able and lux­ury sec­tors in fur­ni­ture.

For years, the mem­bers of an on­line group called Ikea Hack­ers have been mod­i­fy­ing Ikea fur­ni­ture to suit their needs bet­ter, a spirit that the De­lak­tig shares. Was the De­lak­tig de­signed with them in mind?

Not cre­ated for hack­ers per se, but the idea of al­low­ing for the fu­ture of the ob­ject to ex­tend be­yond our present def­i­ni­tions is the in­ter­est­ing part of this project. The anal­ogy which I al­ways re­visit is the iPhone – by the way, the shape of the iPhone 5 is ex­actly the same as that of the bed frame. What’s in­ter­est­ing about iPhones, and mo­bile phones in gen­eral, is that you buy it for one func­tion, but its func­tions in­crease as your de­mands and re­quire­ments grow, with the se­ries of apps you use on it. So that’s a mod­ern way of hav­ing an ob­ject: It’s not a fin­ished thing, it’s a work in progress. What we’re try­ing to say is that when you buy ei­ther a bed or a sofa, it’s a big com­mit­ment. So why not make them such that, when your life changes, you can use the same fur­ni­ture for some­thing else? So if you’re presently liv­ing in a small apart­ment, you can buy a sofa that can be used as a bed, which can turn into a very fine bed for your chil­dren as they grow up. So it’s not a fixed piece of fur­ni­ture at all.

Why has it taken so long to do this col­lab­o­ra­tion with Ikea?

I worked at Habi­tat from 1998 to 2008, but, de­spite Ikea own­ing Habi­tat, we had “friendly ri­valry”. And then for the first 15 years de­vel­op­ing my com­pany, I had to de­velop my iden­tity, my prod­ucts and dis­tri­bu­tion, so I wanted to be not col­lab­o­ra­tive. Now that I’ve kind of es­tab­lished my aes­thetic and some recog­ni­tion for what I do, I can loosen up a lit­tle and do more col­lab­o­ra­tions on projects that I wouldn’t be able to do my­self, beds be­ing one of those. I don’t think I could re­ally be an ex­pert at dis­tribut­ing beds, be­cause Ikea is.

When do you get your best de­sign ideas?

Usu­ally when I’m not think­ing about de­sign. So it could be when I’m rid­ing a bi­cy­cle, or when I’m vis­it­ing a fac­tory. Art such as sculp­ture helps; see­ing an ex­hi­bi­tion at a mu­seum. So any­where that is non-de­sign is where I get my de­sign ideas – when I push my­self out­side of the con­text.

CHECK OUT THE IKEA DE­LAK­TIG COL­LEC­TION IN IKEA OUT­LETS.

LEFT Home­own­ers can com­bine the base plat­form of dif­fer­ent sizes to cre­ate a made-tomea­sure mo­du­lar sofa set.OP­PO­SITE The ver­sa­tile De­lak­tig can pair with var­i­ous fur­nish­ings for dif­fer­ent moods and looks for the home.

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