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Treasured: Tom Dixon on his favourite object

The British designer on the guitar that played an instrumental part in his early career

tom dixon interview
Pete Navey

I was playing music with my friends from around 14, and our disco band, Funkapolitan, really took off when I was 21. The guitar arrived somewhere in-between.

It was a 1973 Fender Jazz Bass with a chequered history – it had been stolen by a Sex Pistols roadie and sold to me. Then it was stolen again from me in a nightclub I used to run called The Titanic. I was so nostalgic about that guitar but really, it was karma. I’d bought it in questionable circumstances.

Six years ago, we played a concert at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and I wanted a guitar fit for the occasion, so I bought one on Ebay. Sometimes you hanker after these things and it’s never quite as satisfying as the original, but it’s the same colour, same year, same everything. It’s doing just as good a job.

There’s something about music that allows you to really commune with people on a different plane. It’s like speaking an alternative language. Bass guitar is slightly simpler, but the downside is you can’t really do it on your own. It’s a support instrument, the goalkeeper of the band. That suits me rather well.

That time taught me about self-determination. In a band you make up your own music, book your own gigs, make your own posters – it’s a little business you create with your ideas.

That’s something I transferred into design. I had no conventional teaching, but the music business had given me that belief in getting on with it. That idea of creativity without formal training is very British. I never learned how to play music either. I’m actually quite bad. tomdixon.net


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