Tom Dixon, Milan 2010
Forward-thinker, whose beautiful and quixotic products attract global fame; author of Dixonary (naturally).
Once Tom was a lone metal welder cannibalising coal hole covers and scrap metal into one-off chairs (now worth a fortune). Today he has a global design and manufacturing business, and an impressive canal-side design-estate, with shop and restaurant, where he creates/sells poetic yet functional products – copper currently being a particular tour-de-force.
And when Tom Dixon published a book charting a designer's progress, the title Dixonary was a natural. And this cloth-bound tome, with gold emboss, is fascinating, crammed with drawings, photographs and words that are genuinely Tom's, full of detail and humour – such a change from "ghosted" hagiographies.
Tom is a visionary who sees beyond the sell-more-product fixation of design. He thinks large with small details. He now masterminds a multi-faceted design show at the April Milan design week, at MOST, the Museum of Science and Technology... and thinks nothing of installing huge metal punching machines in Milan and London, to demonstrate how "local" production could change the world (an idea dear to his heart). He is characteristically generous. He has given away chairs and light bulbs from Trafalgar Square, and metalwork from the Museum.
I have heard Tom talk publicly many times, and he is full of insights, analysis and humour.
But he does not smile easily for pictures – who does? "Tell me a joke," he said. "Well, I think a granny taking your picture at the top of a Milan department store is rather funny," I said.
This picture was the result.