Tom Dixon
Violette Editions, London, 2013, English
Nonfiction, Product/Industrial Design
8.4 x 6.1 inches, hardcover, 632 pages
ISBN: 9781900828420
Suggested Retail Price: $49.95

From the Publisher. Dixonary is a comprehensive book on one of Britain's best-known and most highly regarded product designers. In his own words, and with hundreds of comparative illustrations interleaved with text, this self-taught designer illuminates the often surprising ideas behind his finished pieces. Dixon transforms notions of plumpness observed in a painting of an overfed sow into an overstuffed sofa; or gigantic concrete sea defences on the coast of Japan become the distinctive shape of his famous stacked Jack Light. Dixonary is, in Dixon's words, "a simple picture book with short 'stories' attached--stories that present in an ordered and bite-sized way an approximately chronological sweep through the last three decades of topics and techniques that interest me and the things I have made." A child of the punk era, Dixon (born 1959) founded his own studio in the 1980s following his discovery of the pleasures of welding while repairing damaged motorcycle frames. He became Head of Design at Habitat in 1998 before reestablishing his own brand, Tom Dixon—a lighting and furniture design and manufacturing company—in 2002. He has also been Creative Director at Artek, the Finnish furniture company founded by Alvar and Aino Aalto.

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Ellen Lupton

How do designers represent themselves in the medium of the book? Tom Dixon has released a fascinating self-portrait constructed in the medium of print. Crafted as a marvelous physical object that unfolds over time, Dixonary takes its inspiration from the designer’s own slide lectures, which pair an object or image from the world of pop culture and technology with a piece created by Dixon. The book introduces each work with a spare page of text and an image suggesting a cultural reference (pin-up girls, machine parts, genre paintings). The reader turns the page of text to reveal a Dixon object; these range from one-of-a-kind chairs bent from steel bars to sleek totemic stools and lamps. The text pages have been printed on a soft, warm stock that contrasts with the hard surface of the photographic plates, and they have been cut short at the fore edge to modulate the experience of flipping through the book.

Dixon is a hands-on maker who began creating furniture and objects in Britain in the late 1970s, where his raw, welded pieces attracted an immediate association with punk. Dixon claims to have never really been a punk, but he did draw energy from the movement’s rough-and-ready, do-it-yourself rebelliousness. He went on to become an influential designer with a diverse output, from art furniture to manufactured pieces. Dixonary is alive with the designer’s own voice as well as the culture that inspires him.

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