"Young designers have given up waiting to be spotted by a big producer" - Tom Dixon
British designer Tom Dixon discusses how the digitalisation of manufacturing processes is enabling young designers to take production into their own hands in this movie Dezeen filmed at MOST in Milan.
Set against a backdrop of planes, trains and submarines, Dixon has hosted his MOST show at the Museum of Science and Technology during Milan design week for the last two years.
"What you'll see around the museum is people just getting on and producing their own things," Dixon says of this year's exhibition.
"Last year we used a big punch press with a German company called Trumpf to make something here in the museum," Dixon says. "The net result of that are some big lamps that we're now going to be making in New York for a client and the one that we're showing here was made in London."
Called Punch Ball, the lamps can be customised and ordered via Tom Dixon Bespoke and are produced to order locally.
"We're deconstructing the manufacturing process," Dixon claims. "I think for a long time people thought all goods were going to be produced a long way away in low-cost labour countries and shipped in huge quantities to the rich west, but that whole equation has completely changed."
Dixon says that now smaller companies are also able to produce their own products due to advances in digital fabrication technologies.
"The product world has been quite slow to be part of the digital revolution, but obviously people are getting more and more able to bypass the normal structures for producing and selling their work," he says.
"I think a couple of years back, people would have been waiting for a big producer to spot their prototypes and put them into production. People have given up hope of that happening, but of course with the new technologies you're able to produce the stuff yourself digitally, do the logistics through various structures and then get direct to the global consumer."
Dixon cites online retailer Fab.com, which had a stand at this year's MOST, as an example of how designers today are able to sell their products all over the world, without having to rely on the infrastructure of a large manufacturer or distributer.
"People are being approached by [Fab.com] to sell their things online to an audience of something like 13 million internationally, which means that a young, untested designer can suddenly have access to this vast marketplace," he says.
"Designers from all over the world are making all over the world and selling all over the world, which is a significant move from what Milan used to be."
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