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Above: Sean Dix, image courtesy seandix.com.
Known to smash the odd chair being sold in his name at furniture trade shows, Sean Dix, one of the most prolific designers of our time, has been populating the hospitality industry with his wares for almost 16 years. It’s easy to see why – his oak and walnut chairs and tables are simple, elegant shapes that are perfect for the hospitality industry. Indeed, the Copine series in oak and powder-coated steel is almost perfect for the Australian restaurant ambience of relaxed style with its elegant thigh-high stocking look, quality, and commercial strength.
The collection is made from exceptional American oak and walnut, the steel of a premium grade and the powder-coating a thick luxurious finish. More importantly, the nuance inherent to a good design such as the grain of the timber, the balance of angles, the curve of the seat and back rest or even the weight ratio of horizontal and vertical elements is always foremost in the design realisation.
Indeed, what Sean Dix furniture incorporates is a 30 year career in design preceded by an education in art and design that most would envy. Starting at the San Diego community college at 17, Dix embraced the practical side of woodworking. Effectively honing his skills as a craftsman, he quickly learned that if he could think it, he could make it. Furthermore, for anyone unfamiliar with Dix, let it be said – he has a mind that is constantly active, never settles, and is perpetually moving on to something new. In short, the idea of making a chair never occurs to him. Instead, he envisages a suite of chairs, a lounge, a range of tables and all the assorted accoutrement. Putting together a portfolio most would call a body of work, Dix was accepted into the Art Institute of Chicago. Upon graduating, he received a scholarship to (Gerrit) Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam, followed by a stint at Domus Academy in Milan, before working with industry heavyweights including James Irvine, Tom Dixon, and Sottsass Associates.
By the late 1990s, Dix was approached by Moschino to create their new headquarters, and his career, as they say, was set. After founding Dix Design+Architecture in 2000, the first of his work included flagship stores for Moschino in Milan, Paris, and Moscow. Byblos was the next to experience the Dix effect, with the Moscow flagship store a triumph of original thinking. Retail for Kenzo, Svetlana, I.T Origami, Kot, and HD buttercup have followed, with Sunday’s Grocery in Hong Kong among his most recent.
Typical to Dix’s thinking is the need to create a unique space. Furniture has often answered this, with the Moschino flagship store’s incredible display units a fitting example. Using photographic images of an antique chiffonier set within a cube of glass to appear as the three dimensional object, the solution achieved both the luxury of antiquity and a completely contemporary display. More important to the current body of work are the dinning chairs and tables, which in true Dix form are born of his restaurant designs which include Yardbird, Carbone, Ronin, Belon, La Vache, Neighbourhood, Ho Lee Fook, and Viet Kitchen in Hong Kong, among a great many more. Indeed, most of the current furniture design has its inception in answering a restaurant’s needs. As such, the chairs are light, often stackable, comfortable and smoothly tactile. They are also simple enough to not interfere with other design elements.
The current range of furniture including Copine, Cockpit, Cosimo, Tomoko and Yardbird – and are available through Zenith Interiors and obodo.
Sean Dix will be speaking on his approach to design at DENFAIR on Thursday June 2 (4-5pm), with a Q&A to follow.
To attend, register at denfair.com.au