Lately the work of U.K. designer Tom Dixon has pulled no punches in referencing the elemental nature of design—in regards to his chosen materials as well as his methods of construction. His Slab Stool (profiled on 3rings last July) made short work of the grand gesture of a hefty slab of heavily lacquered oak, while his Screw Table (April 09) paid further homage to Industry by utilizing the ubiquitous fastener (albeit, a monstrously oversized one) as the lynchpin of the piece. At last year’s Design Miami, Dixon showed the Flame Collection—a series of limited edition furnishings made from flame cut steel.
Tom Dixon’s Installation at Design Miami 2009 for Veuve Clicquot.
The story goes that Dixon—irked by a drop in sales—threw the hefty chair into Biscayne Bay (with the help of a several strong-limbed assistants, I’d guess). The whole thing was a jokey bit of drama, has Dixon himself suggests: “In a kind of silly rage I took a piece of the collection, a chair, and in a kind of performance art bit of a thing I cast it into the Bay.” Last year’s silliness morphed into one of this year’s signature installations, since Dixon (and friends) reclaimed the chair from the salty fathoms of the ocean and recast it beneath a billowing halo of his Veuve Clicquot Comete Lights. These clever, low-cost re-castings of the champagne company’s new sustainable packaging make wise use of a reflective surface that—in concert with the apertures created by Dixon’s geodesic structure—bend light hither and thither. The familiar orange sheen of the V.C. boxes interacts with the light and mirrors to create a definitive aesthetic—one, perhaps, more in tune with Halloween than the coming Christmas season but even so…
The installation wouldn’t be complete, however, without the display of the “seasoned” Flame chair, which, frankly, isn’t much worse for the wear. Though it bears the unmistakable signs of the briny deposition of the Caribbean currents, it yet conforms to Dixon’s recently rough-hewn aesthetic. And speaking of the Caribbean, cast beneath the array of Comete Lights, the chair creates an ominous, if playful, mise-en-scene, suggesting the underwater lair of a band of dispossessed pirates, who, deprived of their ship, have grown gills and taken up residence forty fathoms deep.
For his part, Dixon hasn’t ruled out re-visiting the gimmick for next year’s event: “Maybe if it won’t sell this year I’ll pitch it back into the water and let it mature for another year.”