Tom Dixon is the founder and Creative Director of his eponymous British luxury design brand that specialises in furniture, lighting and accessories. With an aesthetic that is intrinsically inspired by the brand’s British roots, its products are internationally recognised and appreciated for their pioneering use of materials and techniques. Tom first rose to prominence in the1980s as a maverick, untrained designer, and has since won countless plaudits for his commitment to enriching everyday life through simple, modern design. He has even been awarded an OBE by Her Majesty the Queen for services to British design. As a local to The Whiteley, here Tom tells us what he finds so engaging and inspiring about living in the area, and the unique cultural opportunities that it affords.
What makes Bayswater and the surrounding areas so special?
There is a unique combination of timeless London and also of a rapidly evolving and changing metropolis. The massive concentration and diversity of different cultures, religions and languages, tourists passing through and daily workers makes for an amazing buzz. This normally happens in less residential areas, or more modern ‘hubs’ but here the backdrop is the expanse of Hyde Park and the genteel white stucco of regency and Victorian London terraced mansions.
What do you love about living in the area?
All of the above! But also, the Falafel and Mutabal in Edgware Road. The green spaces to the south, the canal and the Westway to the north sandwich the beautiful squares that make up the archetypical London landscapes.
What do you miss the most when you’re travelling?
I’m not really one to miss anything, I absolutely love travelling, but I do think that in Bayswater you can travel to dozens of authentic cultures within a mile – from Somalia to Sweden.
How does it make you feel whenever you come home?
I like the busyness and general hubbub, the sense of humour and the sheer thrill of being in such a formidable capital.
What excites you about the redevelopment of The Whiteley?
I think it is fantastic that somebody has saved it from demolition and hasn’t just discarded its multi-disciplinary aspect. I remember the skating rink underneath and the cinema inside, and parties with friends. It’s a place that’s always been looking to stay relevant and useful, and this new vision is something that will take it to a whole new level and inspire the whole community.
Which local shops are your best-kept secret?
The Syrian Ice cream at Damasgate in Edgware Road is unique and delicious. The Pre-loved Suits at The Dresser, where I have acquired suits from a famous guitarist.
What are your favourite local restaurants for a casual dinner?
I like the Moroccan bean soup from the last stall on Goldbourne Road on a Saturday, sprinkled with cumin from a shaker and accompanied by flatbread. It’s outdoors, only has three stools and reminds me of where I was born in North Africa. I also like Eat Tokyo on Notting Hill Gate. It’s unfussy and generous and really feels like being in Japan.
Which is your local bar or pub, and what do you love about it?
Obviously, The Cow in Westbourne Grove is very warm and comforting, but I also love the Frontline Club by Paddington station, because the clientele has the best stories.
What’s the best restaurant in the area for a special occasion?
Stevie Parle’s restaurant JOY at Portobello Dock. It’s seasonal and mainly outdoors during the summer but changes to an indoors, more music led venue in the winter. The produce is from a farmers’ co-operative in Kent. I also still like Sally Clarke in Kensington for its serious foodie outlook.
Are there other designers who live or work in the area that you admire?
Moritz Waldemeyer, the electronic and coding genius. John Pawson also lives nearby on Holland Park, as does Paul Smith.
Where is the best place to shop for homewares?
Still Portobello Market for small stuff, otherwise Retrouvious, which is a bit further afield, for architectural salvage and unexpected surprises.
What would you recommend someone visiting the area absolutely must do?
On a Sunday, first visit the Science Museum and then walk through Hyde Park from Exhibition Road into the Serpentine Gallery, pick up a haloumi wrap from any of the Middle Eastern restaurants on Edgware Road, possibly Maroush, and then go munch on it at Speakers’ Corner at Marble Arch to hear people talking in fine style about the issues important to them.