Tom Dixon Interview
Tom talks BUMP, borosilicate, brewing and black as our new accessories launch at Maison & Objet Paris.
What is Bump?
Bump is series of exercises in functional vessels – for brewing tea, containing flowers, drinking coffee, pouring water or serving cocktails using a very specific glassmaking technique.
What is it inspired by and what was the motivation for its making?
An early encounter in my chemistry class where with your Bunsen burner you could bend and shape soda glass pipe to make a pipette. Later I’d be intrigued by the complexity of scientific glass and how such complicated shapes within shapes were formed, and how something so purely functional could be so decorative, how the proportions seem so perfect, and how visible the functionality seemed.
Where does its name come from?
The name comes from the fact the glass pipes – the departure point of all of these scientific glass vessels – is heated and blown into, a bump is formed and that’s how you make all the different vessels, by blowing a bump or a blob into the glass tube.
Why the interest in Borosilicate?
Double Bubble Vase – my first foray ever into glass making was by accessing the local scientific glass supplier, you don’t need any tooling, you don’t need any furnace, so scientific glass-making is very adaptable.
There used to be a glassmaker in Islington and I was looking at the time for British production. I needed industrial techniques with reasonably low volumes and flexibility, it’s interesting because it’s fused together, rather than blown – where you have a really complicated tempering and cooling process, it doesn’t require vast amounts of equipment to make really complex shapes.
It's heat resistant which is a great quality for a transparent material which means you can use it for hot liquids Glass usually shatters when exposed to sudden changes in temperature. Borosilicate is perfect for vessel making and is strong in its extremely thin and optically clear state.
Up until recently borosilicate was also only available in transparent, so it’s really nice to see these new tints appearing – the colour is in the body of the glass rather than the surface.
What does the ritual of tea-making mean to you?
Like a lot of people, I’m interested in the tea beyond tea leaves. This teapot allows you also to be rid of tea bags which is one of my personal dislikes. Born in North Africa I’m more used to Mint Tea with big handfuls of fresh green leaves, or ginger tea infused from rough cut root.
The healthy follow up to the strong breakfast mug of British builder’s tea. We travel a lot and it’s interesting to see the tea ritual that is modified and adapted with so many different ingredients - from turmeric to verbena or rose petals, and in India cardamon and condensed milk.
I like the medicinal and social aspect – I have a very strong memory of my great-grand mother’s garden and the lime tree leaves and the lime flower tea that she used to make with supposed calming properties, or trips to China where they have the Jasmin flower that opens inside the teapot, so having a semi-transparent tea pot enhances that ritual allowing visibility of the infusion and brewing process which is all part of the joy of the tea ceremony.
Alongside Bump, Tom Dixon will launch black extensions of Tank and Brew in giftsets, as well as Cog gift pens at Maison et Objet Sep 2017 – what’s behind the change in colour and these curated selections?
And Giftsets, I find Christmas very stressful so we’re trying to make it simple for people, people like me.