Tunisian born Tom Dixon emerged during the 1980s as the untrained furniture designer who had dropped out of college, played bass in Funkapolitan and then taught himself to weld steel. He rapidly garnered attention, rose through the design community ranks and took the helm of Habitat as Head of Design in 1998. Tom was appointed Creative Director just ten years later. In 2002 he set up his own eponymous line, which is now sold internationally in 61 countries, and subsequently moved into an empty warehouse site in Ladbroke Grove, named by Dixon, The Dock. For the last three years he has been bringing various companies onto the site, developing the area into a centre for design.
This year as a part of London Design Week, the site is hosting a seven day event, Multiplex at The Dock, to highlight the projects and companies working in the area. Bringing together a variety of different aesthetics and ideas, the companies exhibiting platform a number of approaches to art, design, product design and engineering. Alongside the designers installations there will be also feature a floating cinema hosted by UP Projects, workshops from screen printers Print Club London and an exhibition of Marcel Wander's latest project with Dutch designers Moooi.
Dazed Digital: What initially inspired you to set up the Dock?
Tom Dixon: It's difficult for a furniture company to have any presence in London as the costs of space are very high and you need a large amount of it. When we came across this estate it was a once in a lifetime opportunity and ultimately, we got greedy. We initially rented just one space, but encouraged the developer to let us invite friends. The modern world is about networks and we wanted to be generous with the space we had.
DD: How has the Dock evolved since you started?
Tom Dixon: Since we arrived the estate itself has completely filled up. At the beginning it had a much more warehouse party feel. We have now opened a shop and a pop-up restaurant that has become a permanent thing, brought in more of a collection of design companies, Innocent drinks have moved in and we are using the outdoor terrace for a market every two weeks.
DD: You have invited Aston Martin to exhibit during Multiplex, what was the idea behind including them?
Tom Dixon: In terms of talking about British engineering and British product it's great to have a company like that involved. I don't want to get too nationalistic about it, but it gives a sense of coming from a place.
DD: You have also brought a few greener and ethical companies into the Dock. Are you interested in raising their profile or do you genuinely see that idea of green enterprise as a viable new business model?
Tom Dixon: I think any business can bring certain greener or ethical values into the company and it is an important part of the current world we are in. I learnt quite a lot about it while working with Artek to produce a reclaimed furniture collection and I learnt that it is an incredibly complex subject. I think every opportunity to give publicity to people who are trying to do better for the environment is a good thing.
DD: How green is Tom Dixon?
Tom Dixon: If you announce yourself as being proud of certain greener elements of your business people try and hold you up as an example and knock you down. What we can do is produce things that have a long life because people hang onto them, aren't fashion objects, and be sure that they are not made in a toxic way.
DD: Do you have a vision for the future of where you want to take the Dock?
Tom Dixon: You can see a dynamic developing, whether that is Corso Como in Milan or the Design District in Miami, where design can be a motor for reinvigorating areas. I would like to see the dock be not just the few buildings that I own, but really a district of London that people cluster around.