Sustainable Design with Tom Dixon

VIDEO: Maverick designer Tom Dixon discusses sustainable design, his work with Artek, new rules for product distribution and why designers can give their product away for free. Tom has a long history of engagement with recycling and sustainability that is equally, if not more, noteworthy. His green efforts include the Eco Ware tableware line, made from biodegradable plastic and bamboo, his EcoPolo for Lacoste, and the publication of a great book called ReThink that highlights the use of re-used and re-purposed objects in design (the theme of our Reclaiming Design panel!), as well as his new sustainable venture with Artek in bamboo furniture

About This Video

Tom Dixon spoke at HauteGREEN, a 2007 exhibition of the best in sustainable design for the contemporary home, showcasing furniture, lighting, and accessories that are both aesthetically pleasing and eco-friendly. The talk was organised by Inhabitat.

Tom Dixon is an unusual suspect in the green design movement. An industry outsider, he began his design career after a motorbike accident left him with time on his hands to experiment with welded structures, and in particular the decorative and structural potential of recycled materials and industrial scrap.

He admits to committing many crimes against sustainability. So, why is he invited to HauteGreen to participate in a Sustainable Conversation?

Perhaps it’s because his ideas about sustainability extend beyond the use of natural materials such as bamboo. Dixon’s philosophy of sustainability roots itself in new ways of distribution, new processes of manufacturing, new ways of recycling.

As a designer and design manager, he looks towards the Internet for ideas and appropriates Google and Ebay business practices for the old-fashioned furniture business.

He adopts a radical notion of “not making any new furniture at all.” In Milan, his company Artek presented “2nd Cycle” — Alto furniture that the company bought back or traded for. The used chairs will be put back into circulation as “new old” production.

Dixon came to prominece when helaunched his famous “S” chair with the Italian company Cappellini. The iconic chair now has a home in New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

He has won the Millennium Mark for Great British Design and was awarded the OBE for services to British Design. He currently leads his own design shop, is part owner of the Finnish firm Artek, and is creative director for major retailor Habitat.

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