About the artwork
'Pylon Chair' by Tom Dixon
Born in Tunisia, Tom Dixon moved to England in 1963. He was educated in London but dropped out of Chelsea School of Art to play bass in a band before teaching himself welding.
Tom rose to prominence in the mid 1980s as "the talented but untrained designer with a line in welded salvage furniture". By the end of the 80s, he was designing chairs for powerhouse Italian brands like Cappellini; by the mid-90s, he had created his own company, 'Eurolounge', to make and sell his work. His earlier pieces are now collectables and have changed hands at auction houses around the globe.
He was appointed head of design by the high street furniture chain, Habitat in 1998 and later became Creative Director until his departure in January 2008. He was the public face of a creative team responsible for driving forward the Habitat brand to maintain Conran's dream of enriching everyday life through simple, modern design and creating a shopping experience that is theatrical and intimate.
Tom's earlier works have been acquired by world famous museums across the globe from the Victoria & Albert Museum through to Museums in New York, Boston, Paris & Tokyo. Tom was awarded the Order of the British Empire in 2001 and the most recent accolade included Tom winning Designer of the Year 2008 from Architektur and Wohnen Magazine.
Dixon’s early use of welding enabled him to make his own designs before manufacturers realised his abilities and potential. In 1988 he designed the ‘S’ chair, this was the first design to get noticed. His welding continued to be a source for his inspiration and combined with the frame drawings seen on early computer aided design programmes, he came up with the idea for this piece.
Like the ‘S’ chair, this too is made by Cappellini. It is essentially a desk or dining chair, though can be used for occasional purpose too. Its design may be minimal and quite cold looking, but it can support a lot of weight and is surprisingly comfortable when sat on.
Dixon has been described as a self-educated maverick whose only qualification is a one-day course in plastic bumper repair.
'Little Heavy' by Ron Arad
Arad was born in Tel Aviv, Israel in 1951, to artist parents. After studying at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem he moved to London in 1973 to study under Peter Cook and Bernard Tschumi at the Architectural Association, and graduated in 1979.
A brief spell in an architect’s office convinced him to set up his own company, One Off, in 1981 with Caroline Thorman, who has been his business partner ever since; followed by the One Off showroom in Covent Garden in 1983.
In 1989, they started Ron Arad Associates in Chalk Farm, north London in the building they occupy today. The first piece of furniture he produced was a fusion of two ready-mades – a scrap yard seat from a Rover 200 car mounted on a frame of Kee-Klamp scaffolding originally designed in the 1930s. The Rover Chair and the products that followed – including the 1983 stereo cast in concrete and 1988 beaten steel Tinker chair – captured London’s early 1980s spirit of rugged individualism and post-punk nihilism set against a backdrop of urban blight. Arad like Dixon, represented a generation of self-taught designer-makers who began the decade making their own work out of economic necessity and ended it as the darlings of the newly-wealthy, commanding art-market prices for one-off pieces.
The Rover chair was used by Jeremy Clarkson on the BBC TV show Top Gear for a good few years.
The Soft Little Heavy Chair is made by the Italian furniture company, Moroso and was designed by Arad in 1991. It is upholstered over foam and a steel frame. It is taken from an earlier design which was classed as a studio piece, made out of hammered steel. The fabric version was designed for the mass market. In contrast to Dixon’s chair, this offers softer lines and a more organic, warm and cosy feeling.