With New Lamp, Tom Dixon Puts Digital Fabrication Center Stage
For the British designer, the Punch Ball XL is the result of an entirely new approach to design and fabrication.
With hundreds of booths and thousands of people ﬁlling the Javits Center in New York City, it is always a challenge to hold people’s attention at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF). This year, however, designer Tom Dixon gave visitors pause with his pop-up “factory.” Brooklyn-based Kammetal demonstrated what Dixon calls “the new industrial revolution” using fabrication equipment from the manufacturer TRUMPF. Viewers were given Dixon-designed rulers after witnessing their creation. Even more impressively, the factory produced scaled-down Punch Ball XL pendants: faceted lamps made of stamped metal that was laser cut, folded on a CNC bending machine, and assembled with screws.
Collaborating with a computer-controlled-device manufacturer is something that Dixon had been trying to do for eight years. “I ﬁnally found a company mad enough to work with me!” he says of his relationship with TRUMPF, which is based in Germany. Last year at the Milan Furniture Fair, they created an entire restaurant in the science museum—tables, chairs, lights, and everything else that an eatery requires—and gave away all the contents. “This is now going beyond the conceptual,” Dixon observes of the ICFF development. “We are crystalizing the idea that you can make furniture not only ﬂexibly but very close to the consumer. People have been starved for the proximity to manufacturing in recent times. There is a story for everybody here—a story about exposing manufacturing innovations, a story about jobs, a story about intellectual property, and a story about the future of how things will be consumed.”
The Punch Ball XL is comprised of 32 facets. Sheet metal is laser cut and stamped, folded on a CNC machine, and joined with screws.
Buyers can cocreate the Punch Ball XL to suit their own unique desires. Patterns, scales, and finishes can all be customized.
Due to the large size of the pendants, Dixon expects them to be used mainly in big spaces such as factories and complexes.