by Luis Valdizon | Tom Dixon inconspicuously entered the design world as an art school drop-out in the 1980′s while trying to repair his post-accident motorcycle with no technical training. His works have since been collected by some of the world’s most top museums, including the London’s V&A, New York’s MoMa and Paris’ Pompidou. Just two months ago he was the recipient of the prestigious Maison et Objet Designer of the Year award. I was fortunate enough to chat with Mr. Dixon on the last stop of his North American lecture tour. The evening, hosted by Gastown’s Inform Interiors on March 3rd, was lively and tightly packed by a handsome crowd of design enthusiasts. What follows is the transcript of my conversation with Dixon and a gallery of photos from the evening.
Can you share some details surrounding the night in Milan when you slept on a public park bench, which resulted in the inspiration for your first season with Adidas?
It was my first visit to the furniture fair. I thought that I would be able to find cheap accommodation quickly and that just wasn’t the case. I had no idea of the scale of the fair. Sleeping on the park bench is not something that I can recommend. It’s never comfortable and the temperatures drop substantially in Milan. It wasn’t a great experience. I’m just hoping not to do it again without my own sleeping bag.
I think it’s funny that these sort of things still happen in Milan. Only two years ago there was the Icelandic volcano eruption and everything stopped. There were about a couple hundred-thousand people stuck in Milan and very quickly they didn’t have hotel rooms or residences. For the benefit of my own interests, it could easily happen again, so it’s better to be prepared.
Your release with Adidas has an unmistakable editorial presence in its packaging and presentation. What inspired this?
There’s no point in me trying to be a fashion designer. It’s not what these collaborations are about. What it is for me is sort of entering a new universe without any preconception. There’s a lot of fashion that’s very poorly explained compared to product design. It’s not very normal to give a lot of information on the packaging. I wanted to bring my experience in other trades to the fashion business rather than become a fashion designer. The graphic sensibility and the information on the pack is really about trying to communicate a bit more in a way that they don’t in the fashion business. I get very frustrated, for instance, when I go to a museum or an art gallery and I see this amazing stuff and I want to know more and they don’t tell you. I try my best to reinvent those trades in a way that best suits me. The collection addresses my inability to pack efficiently; so, it’s a personal problem. I think I design with myself as the customer in mind rather than try to be like a proper designer that should be solving problems for other people. I’m a-typical like that.
You shared an idea of being “a proper modernist” for the first time through your collaboration with Adidas. What did you mean by that?
Modernist? Did I say that? I think the advantage with massive companies that are experts in what they do is that they have access to many more resources, and everybody wants to work with them. It’s an opportunity to work with futuristic textiles and new manufacturing techniques. They are cutting edges in their respective trades in ways you’d never get the chance to if you were doing it in a conventional manner.
Can you speak on the role of mathematics in your design?
I went to a very bad school in the 70s where there was a lot of experiments in education going on. There wasn’t a great deal of discipline. There was very bad teaching, and I found the whole thing very frustrating. However, there was one short-lived period that I had a really great math teacher and it opened up this tiny little window in this other magical world which I’ve never been able to access since. There’s something about the beauty in everything matching up and everything being logical that I’m still inclined to seek. There’s something quite nice about geometry because it is perfect. It appeals to everybody. It doesn’t matter whether you’re Muslim and like Islamic art, or whether you’re a scientist interested in DNA, or if you’re a child building Lego; geometry is always there. It’s underpins everything that’s constantly around us. There’s something rather fascinating to a designer about that, and if you do use geometry in your work it you often find that it appeals to other people as well.
You blur the line between the artist and the entrepreneur with little very backlash in comparison to, say, Damien Hirst. Why do you think that is?
Because he’s much richer than I am (laughs). I’m sure the backlash will come when I get really, really rich. For me, what was kind of nice about commerce – and I think that too few designers are interested in the kind of trading aspect of it – is that it’s what has allowed me to become a designer. The fact that I could think of an idea and the people would spend their hard earned cash on buying it off me seems like such a perfect way to make a living, right? It’s like alchemy, where you can turn something into gold. It’s not like I’m a super successful business man. I really like the idea that I’ve created a platform to have an idea and if that idea is good enough people will just buy it. It’s a great way to live.
What is your first memory of an encounter with an object that influenced your design aesthetic today?
I went to an exhibition at the V&A museum in London and I saw a video of an Alvar Aalto stool being made. It was plywood…pressed plywood with the glue oozing out. And it was that that sort of sparked something. I’ve always been more interested in the manufacturing rather than the actual objects. I don’t think it was the design objects that appealed to me. What appealed to me was the manufacturing process, so when I found welding and I learned how to weld then suddenly this whole world where one could create structures very quickly and very easily became apparent to me.
Did you grow up in a design-minded home?
My parents were design aware but they weren’t designers. One was a teacher and one was a BBC newscaster so they weren’t really involved with anything to do with design. Now that I think about it – and even your last question – it was a pottery teacher at my old school. The school was not exactly academic. It was a big school, but it had the luck of having a proper ceramics department and also life drawing class, which is quite rare in secondary schools. The combination of enjoying drawing and actually getting my hands stuck into the wet clay and turning pots and such was really the moment the form-giving and the practical element of design really got me interested.
You’ve talked about having a “child-like enthusiasm” in your design philosophy. How has your relationship with your children or experience as a parent influenced you?
Funny enough, my kids are even more conservative than me. I spend a lot of time trying to get them to try to be more child-like and they constantly try to get me to be more conventional. They’d really like to have a trad [traditional] Dad. That’s what they want they want, a trad Dad, not a crazy Dad. I guess it’s kind of role reversal in a way.
Despite two accidents, one of which ended your music career, I hear that you still ride bikes?
Yes, it’s pretty much a daily occupation. We’ve had a rough winter so I put them away. I’m a bit more fair-weathered now. By the time I get back, the spring will have started and I’ll get moving again. Fact is that in London traffic is so bad and the city is so big that honestly it’s the only way of getting on in your day.
With your latest venture into scents and now again with music, your design seems to want to cover all the human senses…
The beauty of music is that it allows you to communicate with people without using language. Previously when I was doing it in the beginning; that was my job. You had to go around with eight sweaty boys in a transit band and tour the country, but now I can do it for fun. Music really is superior fun.
You should know about this opening that’s going down at Catalog Gallery this Saturday at 7:00pm…
“Sophia Ahamed is a Graphic Designer and Visual Artist living in Vancouver BC Canada. She is a young creative who has worked internationally on a wide rage of projects and has had her work featured in various publications such as Color Magazine, Semi-Permanent and Design is Kinky just to name a few. Her illustrative work is a balance between hand drawn, digital renditions which creates beautiful contrasts of colour and depth through out each piece.
Her current collection of illustrative works demonstrates a valuable connection between the conscious and unconscious mind. No matter who we are or what we are, we as human beings are built the same. We have all gone through moments of happiness, of loss, of despair and of triumph. It is said that what we truly desire in life in happiness. But only through pain can we begin to understand what happiness really is and allow our selves to feel it without hesitation.
Science has given us the ability to understand our own minds and bodies. Art has given us the ability to communicate these findings with others. The goal is to create a different kind of healing process, one that stems from the artist and to the viewer.”
Catalog Gallery is on the 2nd floor of Tinseltown Mall. In addition to Ahamed’s work, you can expect music, beer and fun times.
(via) This. “Every couple of months, 68-year-old Ed Zevely rides into the Colorado high country to camp for weeks at a time—and he does it completely alone. Through thunderstorms, open meadows and treacherous passes, he finds his own patch of serenity. Far from the modern world, it’s a place where the only goal is to move and breathe, and where you can truly understand the difference between loneliness and solitude.”
The GOODS from Inform Interiors
Vancouver, BC | Inform Interiors is proud to announce the internationally acclaimed British Designer Tom Dixon will be at the Inform Interiors showroom on March 3rd 2014. Mr. Dixon will be discussing his work in the field of industrial and interior design, answering questions, and signing copies of his newest book ‘Dixonary’ published by DAP. This event is open to the public.
Born in Tunisia, Tom Dixon moved to England in 1963. He dropped out of Chelsea School of Art to play bass in the band ‘Funkapolitan’ before teaching himself welding and going on to produce furniture. Tom rose to prominence in the mid 1980′s as “the talented untrained designer with a line in welded salvage furniture”. He set up ‘Space’ as a creative think tank and shop front for himself and other young designers.
In 2000, Tom’s work was recognized by the award of an OBE by Her Majesty The Queen. Paris. Tom’s works have been acquired by the world’s most famous museums and are now in permanent collections across the globe including the Victoria & Albert Museum, Museums of Modern Art New York and Tokyo and Centre Beaubourg (Pompidou). Since setting up his own eponymous design company in 2002, Tom’s work has become even more prominent. The Tom Dixon brand gave Tom a platform to produce iconic designs such as Mirror Ball, Copper Shade, Wingback chair and Beat light. The company now sells in 63 countries with permanent setups in England, America and Hong Kong.
The Tom Dixon brand includes an Interior Design arm, Design Research Studio, which has designed Shoreditch House for the Soho House Group and the Joseph flagship store on Old Bond street, Restaurant at The Royal Academy, London, Tazmania Ballroom, a pool bar in the Central district of Hong Kong, Jamie Oliver’s new restaurant, Barbecoa. Most recently Design Research Studio won their first ever hotel project, redesigning the iconic Thamesside Sea Containers House in collaboration with US hotel giant Morgan’s Hotel Group due for completion late 2013. Learn more after the jump… Read more
(via) New York City creative agency The Barbarian Group commissioned Clive Wilkinson Architects to create a 1,100 ft long “superdesk” so that every one of the company’s 125 employees could share the same desk. Of course ours would need to be smaller, but constructed so that there was room for it to grow.
(via) Philadelphian designer James McNabb creates these beautiful “City Spheres” using scrap wood, and we think someone from Vancouver should give it a shot employing native woods and our own skyline. Bonus awesomeness: check out his City Wheel. How cool is that?!
Just when you thought the world’s design minds had thought up every idea for the humble household portal, along comes Austrian artist Klemens Torggler and his Evolution Door, which folds open and closed like an origami dream.
The GOODS from Cavalier
Vancouver, BC | NZ jewellery designer Alexandra Dodds studied Fine Arts before launching her jewellery line in 2011. Being self taught, her unique aesthetic was derived through direct experimentation with materials and studying goldsmith manuals. She has brought together her fine arts background, her love of casting and carving, and her craftsmanship to create one of a kind pieces of jewellery ranging from simple textured pieces to hand-engulfing four finger knuckledusters.
Her debut fine collection launching at Cavalier this week, just in time for Valentine’s Day, uses her signature molten metal forms in white, rose and yellow gold, combined with the rich colours and beautiful cuts of fine gemstones. This collection, which will be exclusively available at Cavalier, echos the forms of lava, lichen, rocks and fossils, combined with a love for the rich complex forms of the Baroque period. “I have had frequent requests for non-traditional engagement and wedding rings. Wedding and engagement rings are forever pieces, so I had to slightly refine my style while keeping true to my aesthetic.. (everyone needs a four finger knuckleduster but I guess it isn’t really an everyday-forever piece).” Learn more about Cavalier after the jump… Read more
(via) This little cabin designed by Finnish escapist Robin Falck was a solution of sorts to getting around government regulations that require a building permit for residential structures over 100 square feet (the same red tape exists here). His two story cabin has a kitchen, bathroom, living room, bedroom, and a ton of natural light, not to mention a kickass outdoor deck. “Nido”, as the cabin is called (meaning “Bird’s Nest” in Italian), took just two weeks to build, and sits in the peace and quiet of a rural archipelago.
by Robyn Yager | Kildare Curtis has carried some of the highest quality international and Canadian designers at Eugene Choo since it opened 2000. His shop is at 3683 Main Street with its extension, The Annex, located right next door specializing in accessories, bags, and seriously beautiful shoes. Here are 10 wants from a recent pass…
1. Fleet Objects Drop Necklace and Bracelet | Inspired by the floats and bobbers of fishing equipment, this line (no pun) by Fleet Objects is a colourful and minimal way to incorporate colour through accessories. The pendants are products of Zoe Garred’s design studio in Vancouver, where she uses natural materials to make objects that speak of an abstract aesthetic in function and form. You might also recognize some of her other work at Chinatown’s Bestie (her hanging Mariner Lamps are gorgeous).
2. Eliza Faulkner wool skirt | Eliza Faulkner’s repertoire included the likes of Erderm, Zandra Rhodes, and Roland Mouret prior to her launching her eponymous line in 2012. The designer was born and raised on Vancouver Island and trained in London at Central St. Martin’s College of Art & Design. Pleats are huge this season, so zero in on this wool skirt in red and wear it with a cream cropped cable knit sweater, black tights, and black pumps.
3. Valentine Gauthier gold leather weaved flats | Metallic is basically a neutral these days. Gold, silver, copper, rose gold – anything goes. These gold leather weaved flats are no exception and would look amazing with just about any outfit. They’re retro in the weaving (some may even say nursie), but the colour modernizes them plenty. Gauthier’s resume includes lines at Rochas and Maison Martin Margiela, experience that makes for a feminine line with classic masculine twists.
4. Noah Waxman green leather desert boots | For guys, how beautiful are these green Noah Waxman leather desert boots? Again, footwear is a fantastic way to up the winter wardrobe ante without being too obnoxious about it. Noah Waxman is a footwear specialist who learned from master craftsmen in Amsterdam who instilled in the young shoemaker the highest respect for what it takes to make beautiful, comfortable and handcrafted footwear.
5. Strathcona Stockings | Who doesn’t love an insane printed tight or stocking? We’re not talking regular prints like the ubiquitous cat print or skull print, we’re talking tropical birds, lilies and avocados, mushrooms, peaches and the beautifully illustrated Mary Jane. If we have to wear tights in this cold and wet weather why not sport something more interesting? Every print from Strathcona Stockings are original – designed, collaged, photographed or drawn at the studio in Strathcona or on various travels. All products are made locally and in limited quantities. Ryley O’Byrne is behind the brand. Her prints have been featured in StyleBubble, Vogue Italia, New York Magazine, Elle UK, Nylon Magazine and all over the web and back. Let these tights and stockings be the statement piece in the outfit (because nothing says Vancouver more than weed on your feet).
6. Eliza Faulkner colour blocked silk dress | Another piece by Eliza Faulkner. It’s a very elegant and conservative dress that transitions well from day to night. The detachable rope belt can be used to cinch the waist or can be removed for a more draped effect. The knee length makes it a Vancouver-appropriate piece as we longingly await spring.
7. Comrags Thwaites dress | The Quartz Border Thwaites Dress by Joyce Gunhouse and Judy Cornish of Comrags is more like a piece of art than a dress, and more reminiscent of a green spring day than of the holidays that have just passed. This is what happens when two Canadian designers with the same design sensibility and work ethic come together. The company, born in 1983, is still based out of Toronto where their designs boast of “femininity with an edge”.
8. Oliver Spencer men’s colour blocked t-shirt | Tired of the usual black and neutral winter wardrobe? This Oliver Spencer jersey t-shirt is an awesome way to incorporate colour into the otherwise drab assortment of current winter wear. A modern British brand, Oliver Spencer is inspired by hunting and military clothing, Americana and Japanese style, and Sandy Powell, the costume designer for Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York. Total British cool.
9. Dolce Vita pointed oxford flats | Despite our stated affections for stilettos, flats are trending on the fashion front right now. We’re not sure if it’s the masculine influence at play or if it’s just a matter of comfort, but these chic and functional pointed toe flats by Dolce Vita are a wicked addition to the shoe closet. Eugene Choo has them in an all-over black colour and a two-toned black and white oxford version. If you can, grab both!
10. Osei-Duro dress | Osei-Duro is a clothing company based out of LA and Ghana. These beautiful garments are made in Ghana using traditional hand-dyeing techniques and weaving. Each piece is made uniquely and by an individual who is given full acknowledgement for their work. This particular piece is colourful and appropriate for either the summer months paired with sandals or in the winter with a heavy wool coat, black tights, and boots.
Eugene Choo & The Annex | 3683 & 3697 Main Street | 604-873-8874 | www.EugeneChoo.com
by Robyn Yager | Jeff Hamada of the art blog Booooooom! has collaborated with Aritzia on a line of uniquely bold graphic tees. Aritzia approached Hamada to design something for their year-old t-shirt line, La Notte, and the result is a small collection of five pieces, each with a design exclusive to the brand. The collection is called Dream About Living The Dream - a “tongue in cheek celebration of being lazy, quitting, and not caring. It’s about wanting something, a certain lifestyle perhaps, but also not wanting to work for it”. The collection is only around for a short time (given the ample followings of both Jeff’s blog and Aritzia’s aesthetic, chances are that they’ll be snatched up quick). Read more about the collaboration here and buy them there.
On Oregonian boat-builder named Brian Schulz took a year and a half and a mere $11,000 to build this gorgeous, Japanese-inspired home in the woods near Cape Falcon. From My Modern Met:
It all began one day when Schulz found a brass sink at a local recycle center and immediately started fantasizing about building a home around the object. He wound up fulfilling his dream on an affordable budget by carefully salvaging materials for construction and items to adorn the house. He also did a fair bit of traveling and meeting people who offered anything from handmade paper lanterns to allowing him to actually haul trees from their property. Schulz says, “With deep enough pockets a person might be able to duplicate such a structure by writing a large check to a talented builder, but that would risk missing the point entirely… Whether or not one believes that turning a log from beside the house into the house itself imbues it with some mystical qualities, it is undeniable that the pursuit of local materials connects more deeply to your landscapes, your neighbors, and yourself. The simple act of searching adds richness to our lives. To reiterate: You meet people, you discover new places, you have adventures, you learn things, AND, you come home with beams, windows, doors, and shingles.”
We’ll take ours on Savary Island, thank you very much.
by Robyn Yager | The history of the stiletto heel is a little complicated. From deadly weapon to cultural icon, everyone has had an opinion on the shoe style. They’re definitely not for everyone. Some may even scoff at the sight of a stiletto, regarding them as silly or straight up impractical. And yet despite valid debate on function, there’s an alluring beauty to a good, narrow heel. The line of the heel to the sole is attractive and even sexy. To some, it’s comparable to the way a gorgeous piece of architecture can inspire a feeling of awe.
The first high heels were worn by men on horseback (boots with a “high heel” were to gain extra traction in stirrups), but the “stiletto” heel came about in the 1930′s. It was named thus in reference to the Italian “stiletto” dagger of the Renaissance period, a fearsome weapon for personal protection and in close quarter combat. Made popular by designer Andre Perugia and French singer Mistinguett, the shoe was a product of “new technologies” in which a metal rod was used in the heel to reinforce its strength, thus allowing for a thinner, sleeker heel. Designer Roger Vivier took the style into the mainstream in the 1950′s, helping to advance the style beyond the runway and into the mainstream to become an iconic international fashion silhouette.
The idea behind the stiletto is that the diameter of the base of the heel is less than one centimetre. The heel can be of varying height, from kitten heel to the most high (those that accompany the platform, making walking nearly impossible). Eventually, the toe of the shoe was elongated to a point wherein the entire piece was referred to as a “stiletto”. In any event, the name is apt. There have been several instances in which a sharp high heel has been used to injure or attack another person.
Physically, the stiletto heel is a design that’s very difficult to get a hand (or foot) of at first. Like any high shoe, one must trust the heel. With the foot on a slant, walking in heels can make the wearer feel volatile and unbalanced, but the effects are clear. They elongate the leg and tighten the calf muscles to make them appear more slender, lending elegance to wearers who are now walking taller and, after some practise, with confidence
Today, the stiletto shape is used by nearly every designer every season for sandals, boots, or pumps. One of the most notable of the bunch is, of course, Manolo Blahnik, who has projected the style even deeper into the mainstream. Despite the more “frumpy shoe styles” as of late (here’s hoping the Birkenstock reveival stayed in 2013), the stiletto has secured itself in the fashion pantheon as a symbol of (potentially deadly) femininity and elegance.
Where you can find great stilettos in Vancouver | Because this shoe is so ubiquitous it takes a little bit of shopping around to find what suits your personal style the best. There is no store or boutique that sells “the best”, but there are some that make great starting points. As usual, Gravity Pope has some pretty hot shoes; from Acne to Fleuvog, they offer a plethora of options. The best way to find the perfect stiletto heel is to do some research. Because they’re so individual and they fit every foot differently, shopping around and trying on different brands and heights is worth the investment in time. They’re also not for the faint of heart or the easily vertiginous. First timers must keep in mind that the stiletto takes some getting used to and requires environments with consistently even surfaces. If you avoid grass, gravel, cracks in the sidewalk, and pretty much all of Gastown (their most diabolical of enemies being the cobblestone), you’ll be fine. If not, make this your motto: “Walk tall and carry a pair of flats in your bag.”