Design Research Studio
Coal Office, 1 Bagley Walk, Kings Cross, London N1C 4PG
2002 saw the inception of Design Research Studio, under the creative direction of the internationally acclaimed Tom Dixon. Since then, the studio has created installations and interiors for restaurants, bars, hotels, residential and office developments and retail stores for clients such as Sony, Adidas, Joseph, Nokia, Audi, Veuve Cliquot, Hennessy and Bombay Sapphire.
On occasion, Tom is both client and designer. He likes to work in new ways, and on projects which challenge him. In the case of his brainchild Multiplex, he brought together an eclectic mix of brands from the worlds of art, design, technology and fashion in a month-long pop-up, which took up residency in the disused Old Selfridges hotel. The project challenged traditional retailing; part immersive installation and part multisensory experience, which mixed London’s cultural tribes and had the erstwhile energy of London’s vibrant Portobello and Kensington markets.
The studio’s latest project for the Paris’ 60-year-old hot spot Le Drugstore, has seen the space reinvented. The design of the new restaurant and bar combines the tradition of the Parisian brasserie with true Tom Dixon styling and a rich palette of luxe materials, which give it a real sense of place.
Not surprisingly, most of the studio’s interior design concepts, feature Tom Dixon lighting and furniture. Knowing the name of the designer so well, one’s eye is naturally drawn to his products, but as you linger there is so much more to see. Headed up by MD Helen Arvanitakis, the studio’s designers, create atmospheric spaces through their clever use of material, texture, colour and form, where one may complement or offset the other, making us take stock and appreciate the surroundings. There is a definite thought process behind each and every element, but like a piece of art, you can enjoy and interpret their designs as you see fit.
In 2018 they moved their studio to the historic Coal Office at Kings Cross. The new space accommodates their growing team, as well as a new restaurant, showroom and large store which sits below in the vaulted arches of Coal Drops Yard. The expansion continues as following regular attendance at the Milan Design Week – the studio decided to open up a permanent home in the city which features a restaurant, shop and a showroom, providing a theatrical backdrop for their latest innovations and best sellers.
Each project provides an element of delight or surprise, such as their restaurant concept for Bronte, where large feature elements include a pink concrete bar and green leather booths, or the plethora of Melt lights, which mesmerise in Alto’s Bar and Grill restaurant in Hong Kong.
With Tom’s love of materials and making, the studio has a fresh approach to interior design; their concepts feel experimental, yet thought through, stimulating reactions we don’t expect. There is nothing homogeneous about their designs.