Tom Dixon’s gorgeous chair was made by one of Tesla’s manufacturers

When the acclaimed British designer Tom Dixon was 5, he was left alone, parked in a tiny French automotive, a Citroën 2CV. Since this was the Nineteen Sixties, there have been no baby security seats or legal guidelines in opposition to the apply. Little doubt, Dixon was bored and curious, so he pulled on a lever, which occurred to be the hand brake.

Parked on a hill, the automotive started to roll, and it didn’t cease till it crashed into one thing.

Dixon tells me this story now, rapidly shrugging it off as a narrative inside a narrative—”It was totally different instances,” he says—earlier than reaching his level. The Citroën 2CV has caught with him since. It was a clever, low-budget car, which used a lightweight tubed body as its base (extra like planes of the period than automobiles), lined in a skinny veneer of stamped metal panels. Its hood specifically is ridged with curves that distinguish it from the VW Bug.

[Photo: courtesy Tom Dixon]

At the moment, Dixon is debuting his newest chair, dubbed the Hydro. It, too, is an effectively constructed product, leveraging metal-forming expertise from the auto business, that undulates with its personal distinctive flare—a religious nod to the hood of the 2CV, positive. However regardless that the chair itself was impressed by a childhood trauma, Dixon readily admits that it appears to be like like a cross between a plastic backyard chair and a Jeff Koons balloon canine.


And I was relieved that he stated it earlier than I needed to.

[Photo: courtesy Tom Dixon]

The Hydro appears to be like like a singular chair as a result of it’s produced in a singular means. It’s 100% aluminum, and its identify is a nod to Norway’s Hydro, the world’s largest aluminum producer, which partnered with Dixon on the product. As a substitute of being molded (shot as sizzling liquid right into a shell and left to chill) or stamped (pressed into form from a single piece of steel), the chair is produced by an auto course of often called superforming. Molten aluminum is sprayed onto a one-piece mildew as an alternative of being squeezed in a sandwich. Then it peels off as a really exactly made object.

“You get so much much less scarring on the steel, and it may well go into tighter radiuses,” says Dixon. “Which lets you make the construction.”

(If you wish to know what the Hydro would appear to be if Dixon stamped it as an alternative, you kind of can. In 2012 he produced a Stamp chair that’s taking part in with so much of the identical concepts.)

Whereas Dixon explored many varieties of the chair, together with some primarily based upon tight triangles, he settled on these ballooning arches as a result of their geometry provides the chair extra power and rigidity with much less materials. If the chair have been flat, Dixon estimates you’d want three to 4 instances as a lot steel inside it to carry up. As a substitute, the design permits every chair to be a bit underneath 8 kilos. He lifts the chair effortlessly with one hand to point out it off.

[Photo: courtesy Tom Dixon]

Even so, the chair will not be fairly succesful of being superformed as one piece. So the legs are literally glued on, utilizing an industrial adhesive from the auto business. “The benefit of working with automotive corporations is that they have extra superior the whole lot,” he says. (An auto provider in Montreal that creates components for Tesla is fabricating the chairs.) “The furnishings enterprise is lagging behind in ergonomics, materials science . . . all types of stuff.”

Seen from head-on, it’s a gorgeous chair. “I wasn’t trying to make one thing that had such a pop sensibility. It’s fairly recognizable, I feel,” says Dixon. “I was significantly making an attempt to assume of a cost-effective means of getting mushy edges and power into the sheet.”


However stroll across the again, and it’s not a balloon animal. It’s exactly the other. It’s an inverted model of the chair as a result of of the best way the chair was made. It’s fairly shocking to see the reveal for the primary time, as in case you are trying on the skeleton of a balloon canine. Nonetheless, this inverted shaping helps the chair to be stacked. And it’s mild sufficient {that a} restaurant or different massive venue may stack them in piles of 5 – 6.

Now, I agree, it’s exhausting to think about stacking a really limited-edition chair, priced at $2,775. Solely 60 of these might be made throughout this week’s 60-year anniversary of the Salone del Cellular design honest, making them an excessive collector’s merchandise. However after this primary limited-edition run, Dixon is aware of the manufacturing course of may be scaled for a wider launch, and the bigger it scales, the cheaper the Hydro may get.

It’s additionally a 100% recyclable design, and Dixon teases a round buyback program he’s making an attempt to construct, which might assure somebody may commerce an previous chair in for the value of the uncooked aluminum, so the chair might be disposed of, but additionally melted into a brand new one for an additional buyer.

“I feel it’ll be used a bit extra in museum cafeterias and automotive showrooms . . . however my hope can be, if we will get it to the suitable value . . . it will be an awesome chair for prisons and kindergartens as effectively,” says Dixon. “It’s very indestructible.”