As our lives feel more and more ephemeral, we seek out nostalgia that much more. We reach for the solidity of designs of the past. Through these eyes, how good are we at looking at the designs of now and seeing what will still capture our hearts not just for weeks but decades? How does one determine what is–or will be–an icon?
Tom Dixon developed and launched his Beat Light series in 2005 as part of an initiative to investigate how design could impact other people (besides the consumer). This program led him to the skilled brass-workers in India. The partnership and interaction led directly to the now famous designs. The shapes of the original models were selected for their similarity to the historic styles of the region, to play to the strengths of the brass craftsmen. These designs allowed these craftsman to apply their existing skills and knowledge.
Fabulous (and Familiar) Forms
The genius of these designs is their simplicity of form. Their shape echoes through the ages in a way only great design can. They represent our past on multiple levels, from the sweeping lines of the western modernist all the way back to the basic drinking and eating vessels of antiquity. Their silhouettes mirror Moroccan tagines, Greek vessels and, of course, the Indian drinking vessels on which they are based. There is something so eternal about these shapes, which makes these designs so iconic.
Another point to touch on is the the sense of touch itself. The Beat Light fixtures are a feast for the senses outside of just visual appeal. The spun brass forms are hand hammered on the inside to create a rich and unique texture. The creation is a painstaking process hundreds of years old, with some versions of the fixture taking up to four days to complete.
Can’t Beat the Design Versatility
First launched with a blacked patina and the hand hammered interior, the popularity of and demand for the collection has lead to more finishes and forms coming out throughout the years. Now offered in a gloss white and brushed brass exterior and even a grey finish with a silver plated interior, there is a palette to work with most decor. The shapes have expanded as well, with different forms (including, most recently, the Beat Waist and Beat Flat) being added to supplement the original designs, thereby offering even more options for creating a custom space.
Another part of the versatility of the Beat Light Pendants is that they look just as well in a group (a cluster or row) as they do on their own. The rich finish can stand up to a standalone space, but its grandeur multiplies when arranged in groups. The sweeping forms seem to interlock when grouped, creating an organic yet structured effect.
Nothing Like the Real Thing
You see them everywhere. From hotels and restaurants to high end shops and even pasta advertisements, Beat Lights have become shorthand for the combination of high style and dedicated craftsmanship for which Tom Dixon is now ubiquitous.
This popularity has, of course, spawned poor imitations. Do be wary when shopping to ensure that you are ordering through authorized retailers. While fakes may look good online, rest assured that the product in hand will be a poor facsimile, lacking the hand craftsmanship utilized to create the real collection.
The staying power of the Beat Light collection has extended far past the pendant. There are now also a multitude of shapes and finishes in wall, floor and table fixtures…even a set of vases. Great designs have staying power. And if the last thirteen years have been any indication, we will keep seeing the Beat Light fixtures for some time to come.
Cody Torgersrud is part of the sales team for YDesign Group, which works directly with customers who call and email in. When not remodeling his 1950s bungalow, Cody enjoys refinishing vintage and antique furniture, as well as binging on British TV.