Tom Dixon is a restless innovator who works predominantly in lighting, accessories and furniture, who founded his own eponymous brand which is the platform for a series of new adventures in the design of products and interiors. Here, RLI speak with company CEO Alessandro Vergano about the brand and what the coming months have in-store.
L aunched in 2002, the Tom Dixon brand is now a widely celebrated global force in interior design with its own hubs in New York, Hong Kong, London and Tokyo. Its 600 strong product range varies from lighting to furniture, from tableware through to fragrance and is distributed in more than 100 countries across five continents. ‘The business has seen many significant changes in the last year, from a positive change to the leadership team through to improvements in the supply chain, systems and integrations but more importantly the product architecture,’ says Tom Dixon CEO Alessandro Vergano.
In recent months the company has found that digital is the best way to reach new and larger audiences, and they have invested more in the consumer experience due to a more than 50 per cent growth in online sales. Digital is also helping the brand support the overall growth of the business through not only its own directly managed channels, but with all of its partners and stockists as well.
Back in April, the Tom Dixon company launched The Coal Office in London. The original industrial and derelict buildings have been renovated and repurposed and are now nestled amidst a merging collection of commercial, residential and lifestyle spaces. “The scheme engages the consumers and design community in what is possible when considering the regeneration of space,” explains Vergano. ‘The complexity of the Coal Office building structure meant approaching the requirements of a commercial office, restaurant and retail shop in a very different way, which was really an exciting project.’
The result was something that is authentic but uses the structure as an integral part of the visual and physical experience. There is a communal working space encompassed within a physical journey through the building for consumers where they can see the ‘engine room’ of the Tom Dixon brand as well as the restaurant and its kitchen. In addition to this, in May the company relocated its New York store to Greene Street in Soho where they now have a more useable space with great adjacencies. “Both of these locations are starting to mature, and we see them more as hubs where our entire brand can be touched in a mixture of sight, sound and smells and a wider audience has access to the physical spaces we create,” says Vergano.
Looking forward, the company is proud to announce that its joint venture in China will be a 360-degree business model offering a mix of direct to consumer through both physical and digital retail, wholesale through strategic outlets and partners and the introduction of its contract, trade and Design Studio businesses. Along with this, Tom Dixon also has strong growth projections in the Middle East and Africa, Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Americas. “All of these markets excite us both in terms of the opportunities the regions offer and the further distribution of the brand thus increasing the brand reach and overall recognition,” says Vergano.
For new products and initiatives, imperative for a global brand like Tom Dixon, the product design process still starts in-house, where the product designers are guided by Tom and work across all categories to bring exciting and unique products to life. The product team has a functioning workshop which allows them to push the boundaries of design, materiality and function before they even take the designs to manufacturers.
“People always want extraordinary things and essentially great design of beautiful but useful objects that always appeal. We have a very strong visual heritage which supports the launch and lifespan of all our products.” So why does Alessandro feel that customers remain so loyal and what differentiates Tom Dixon from its peers? “Tom’s iconic furniture is collected by museums all over the world and the pieces transcend the everyday mundane of say a chair or drinking glass by being interesting, unique and beautifully made. Our individual pieces and ranges are put together with a purpose in mind, not just how they look and this helps us stand out,” says Vergano. “Tom’s tireless energy and enthusiasm for making things and surrounding himself with world class people to deliver his vision and the products in exciting and ever improving ways,” he concludes.