Coal Office: Tom Dixon’s London Studio Celebrates Permanence And Change.
Tom Dixon’s London Studio Celebrates Permanence And Change.
The idea that a modish design studio and retail store can exist in a coal yard may sound outrageous, but British designer Tom Dixon has accomplished it with finesse. Housed in the vintage Victorian environs of London’s iconic and bustling King’s Cross Station, Tom Dixon ’s Coal Office creates a new vocabulary for adaptive reuse. Consisting of a flagship store, showroom, studio and restaurant, the property shapes itself along the curve of the Regent’s Canal and flanks the new Coal Drops Yard shopping centre.
The urban fabric of 21st century London has a penchant for blending the old and the new. The large-scale redevelopment around King’s Cross Station is a characterising example. An art school has come up in what was once a granary. The station’s massive Victorian-era gasholders are now home to posh residences, and a slew of trendy offices and retail outlets are transforming the area into a vibrant mixed-use site. Tom Dixon’s Coal Office effortlessly fits into this dynamic framework, while also showcasing the brand’s eloquently candid design philosophy.
The leading design house originally operated out of a West London establishment. A King’s Cross address offered them “the right mix of professional and retail”– one of their primary site selection criteria. Their building of choice also offered opportunities for design exploration and reinterpretation. After a refurbishment exercise courtesy David Morley Architects, it was equipped with a mix of modern infrastructure and vintage industrial character, serving as the perfect stage for Tom Dixon’s signature approach to interior design.
Coal Office sports an unabashedly rough-hewn look, flaunting its industrial heritage through exposed brick walls, barrel-vaulted ceilings, and coal-blackened wooden parquet. Tom Dixon’s distinctive furniture, lighting fixtures and accessories adorn these pared-back spaces, riding on exposed ducting and conduits to cement the new-age industrial look. The composition hints at being a work in progress, which is how the brand has visualised it. In Tom Dixon’s own words: “I see the building as being at the beginning of an adventure rather than a fait accompli.”
In terms of spatial organisation, Coal Office consists of a series of functional units that flow into one another through expansive arched openings. The design studio on the upper floor combines functional office furniture with eccentric metal chandeliers in a high-ceilinged space. The shop on the lower floor invites the public to interact with the brand’s offerings. Capturing the feel of an art gallery, the sprawling retail space consists of a lighting showcase, furniture shop, perfumery, and haberdashery, the latter representing Tom Dixon’s latest experiments with fabrics and textures.
The Factory, an innovative workshop with a space-age vibe, allows creators to get hands-on with their ideas and designs. Metallic workstations spring from a polished grey floor, complementing the exposed brick walls with an almost surreal sheen. Client meetings and business transactions take place at the Trade Counter, a dynamic composite of conference tables, mood boards and material samples, all articulated with the same blend of Victorian and industrial interiors.
Tom Dixon isn’t a brand known for taking half-steps, and it is hardly surprising that their studio would house an experimental restaurant. The Coal Office Restaurant is the product of a collaboration between the design house and Palomar chef Assaf Granit. Articulated with Tom Dixon’s industrial furniture, lighting fixtures and accessories, the restaurant’s slender configuration switches from a bar area to a laid-back dining room to alfresco seating on the roof. The experience is rendered complete by a creative menu, characterised by enticing names, prepared from fresh ingredients, and served in shareable plates.