Final Frontier
April 14, 2009 - 12:00pm

Tom Dixon

Dixon: Our lamps are made all over the world—some in the United Kingdom, some in India, some in China and some in Germany—depending on what material or specific skill is needed.  We will introduce the majority of our designs to the United States. For us, the U.S. is really the final frontier: a mysterious and an exciting continent with a rediscovered interest in contemporary design. We feel the time is now right for an innovative British brand to feel relevant and welcome here.

The speed at which we bring our designs to the United States depends a lot on meeting U.S. certifications. You have different legal requirements. There is very basic stuff,  like your 110V versus 240V electricity. And on top of that, you have different plugs. You also have different laws that govern things like the weight for standard suspended lamps. The United States requires a second cable to support a lamp, whereas in the United Kingdom, you can usually hang a heavier lamp from a traditional fitting.

Mirror Ball with copper shade.
Mirror Ball with copper shade.

As for my favorite designs, it is always the next one.  If I was ever satisfied, I would stop. But I am very keen on a few ideas I’ve got right now in my head that you won’t see for another year. We are trying to encourage people to take up low-energy-consumption bulbs. It is a subject all of  us are going to start thinking about even more now.         

What’s nice about lighting is that it is a field where technology is moving forward. I am also involved in residential furniture, and there haven’t been any significant technological advances in upholstery or woodworking or things like that. But in lighting, my god, it’s just completely and constantly changing. You’ve got LEDs, you’ve got phosphorescent, you’ve got low energy, you’ve got halogen. As a field for designers, it is much more interesting because it’s being pushed forward by technology. It gives you more liberty and more chances to do something unique that nobody has thought of before. Even the introduction of low-energy-consumption bulbs, which are considered by many to be ugly, has been great from a design perspective. They allow you to make more compact fittings, which in turn allows you to make different shapes.           

Cone Light.
Cone Light.

But some of my designs are about trying to enhance conventional bulbs and use them in a different way. For example, I’ve taken a lot of inspiration from photographers’ studios. The Cone Light was influenced by the realization of how good [photographers’ lights] are at re-creating natural light. The Cone has a much bigger light fitting, and it is almost clumsy in its execution, but there is enough room for the bulb to diffuse properly and give you an even, flat light from a large surface. Most modern lights are very small and punchy and hard. The Cone is the total opposite. It is about generosity—and in particular about the generosity of light.

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