Tom Dixon, Founder, Design Research Studio
SPACE’s Can Faik speaks to Tom Dixon, Founder and creative vision behind Design Research Studio…
Design Research Studio is the interior, product and branding design consultancy at the heart of the Tom Dixon organisation. It has been quietly working for the last 12 years on a broad selection of innovative projects and products for a wide variety of partners, brands, developers and entrepreneurs.
Tell me about your role at Design Research Studio
My role is to continually drive the studio toward innovation and ensure our focus and integrity in design.
What five words would you use to describe Design Research Studio?
Alchemy, engineers, explorers, sculpture, innovation.
How long have you been involved with hotel design?
How important are public spaces in hotels?
At the moment, hotels have a unique opportunity to establish a new typology of space by aggregating different types of programs into novel assemblages accessible to the public.
With so many hospitality designers in the industry, how does Design Research Studio stand out from the rest?
For us, it is about telling authentic stories that are rooted in the brand and place. Then being flexible and patient to innovate.
What has been your favourite project to date?
The Sea Containers London was an incredible opportunity for our studio to stretch creatively across the entire spectrum of what a contemporary hotel in a global city can offer.
Is there anything exciting that you are working on at the moment that you can tell us about i.e. Virgin Voyages first ship?
In addition to Virgin Voyages first ship, we are designing a garden with Ikea for the Chelsea flower show as a research project into the future of urban farming. In Sydney we are currently working on the workplace of the future, designing the public area interiors for a commercial tower with 3XN architects.
What is it about hospitality that draws you to it?
Hospitality allows us to give our best to create worlds that people can enjoy. As a studio we are driven to tell stories to engage users. We also love the complexity of these projects where we get to apply ourselves.
What’s next for DRS?
Innovation is in our brand’s DNA and as the studio is growing we are reinventing ourselves constantly. Most recently we are evolving from an interior design consultancy into a design and innovations agency. We have consolidated our studio and grown our capabilities in product design, architecture, graphics, branding and content allowing us to work more flexibly across project types for key clients.
Where currently ranks highest on your travel wish list?
We have a global portfolio of projects, so the travel schedule is quite intense already, meaning that quite often time in London is cherished.
Where do you see hotel design in the future?
Mobile; we are beginning a few research initiatives into mobility and accommodation where our interests are both on the ground and in the air. Social; the hotel lobby is such an incredible architype and model for the future of public spaces and collaborative spaces. We are seeing not only innovation in how these areas are being used socially, but how other typologies, such as workplace, are beginning to take notice and implement.
Let’s finish with the issue of work-life balance. How do you aim to achieve a good balance and what do those closest to you think of your attempts?
I have always taken the view that work and life exist continuously and focusing on being engaged and healthy is supremely important. Aligning pursuits and interests, both personally and professionally, very much allows for a deliberate balance of how time and effort are spent. Those closest to me know that I can be quite insatiable in pursuing my interests, so they often interject with musings and distractions that enliven the mix.