Drawing from the illustrious past of British design while projecting his own bold imaginings for its future, Tom Dixon creates furniture, lights and accessories that are forever on the cusp of now. With The Marketplace pop-up – a unique consumer experience featuring a scent laboratory available exclusively at Lane Crawford – Dixon takes his distinctive visual aesthetic to a new sensory plane to create fragrances that are as innovative and audacious as his trademark designs.
Tom Dixon has been at the forefront of British product design for more than 30 years, and remains one of the most influential forces in the industry, with his retro-futuristic take on lighting and furniture. Having established his own eponymous brand in Portobello in 2002, the London-based designer’s works are now sold in more than 65 countries around the world.
How do you translate your visual design aesthetic into the olfactory medium?
I think it's possible to translate your culture and your memories into smells with roughly the same rules that you might have in shapes or colours. I like relatively expressive yet minimal shapes, so that was the same when I was selecting the smells.
The sense of smell is a powerful memory trigger. Did you find yourself recalling old memories during the scent-making process?
Of course: the smell of mimosa when you drive through the South of France in spring, the smell of petrol and oil when taking my first motorcycle to bits, the salty sea at Dover when crossing the Channel on summer holidays, or the smoke of cannabis in Notting Hill Gate are all engrained in my psyche.
Design is an everyday activity that we all take part in – every time we write a letter or arrange food on a plate we make decisions about colour and proportion without even thinking about it. I think that design has the power to make a big difference, and I hope one day to be able to be part of that.
I love a factory, a material or a craft process, I'm interested in cooking and painting and playing music, and I love sculpture and new countries, so I guess my inspirations are smells and sights and sounds and tastes. I also love Phoebe Philo at Céline, Anish Kapoor, Konstantin Grcic, Philippe Malouin and Max Lamb.
What, for you, is the most crucial difference between good design and bad design?
It’s hard to say, but design is never a single thing – it is affected by trends and fashion, just like the music business or the food business. But when you produce a design, you should be trying to improve on something that has existed before – a better functionality, or a life-changing new invention, or even just a nicer colour.
Discover Tom Dixon’s The Marketplace in store at all Lane Crawford locations across Hong Kong.