Despite a slowly growing sense of restraint that has emerged over the past few years, April’s upcoming Design Week in Milan is still a massive, unstoppable tidal wave of accessories, furniture, trends, ideas, and prototypes. It’s a time where wandering the city streets, getting lost in the almost unbelievably epic tradeshow booths at the Fiera, or scrolling online from thousands of miles away will introduce you to an incredible amount of new! new! new!
In spite of the surrounding excess, British jack-of-all-creative-trades Tom Dixon has an uncanny knack for producing furniture that stays honest to the materials. In an interview with Co.’s Suzanne LaBarre a few years back, he describes how he’s managed to maintain his clear vision. "Product designers have very little control over their own destiny. So I set out quite consciously to regain some degree of control. Ultimately, I’m lucky to have had all these disparate careers and influences which have allowed me to elaborate my own model. Which is more like the fashion industry, where a designer will retain his own communication, marketing, and means of production and distribution as much as he can." Which all makes sense—it is his name on the box, after all.
His latest collection, making its debut at the main event next month, was inspired by contrasts. In an era where technology and material innovations have enabled some seriously slimmed-down, lightweight fixtures, the sturdy pieces in Rough and Smooth have a pleasing heft. There’s something for everyone here: faceted, nickel-plated aluminum pendants and mirrors; Platner-esque wooden spindles of the Fan chair, stool, and table; the sleek '70s style of the Spun series; and the bold geometrics of Mass’s coat and book stands, which look as much like sculpture as anything actually functional.
Dixon’s London-loving Eclectic line will also be on display, along with the introduction of a bespoke service for commercial interiors and a collaboration with Adidas. Which brings up an important question: Does this dude ever sleep?
Catch Rough and Smooth in the flesh April 9th through 14th at the Museo della Scienza e della Tecnologia in Milan.