Jane Dillon

JANE-DILLONJane Dillon (née Young) is a British designer and artist who has made significant contributions to furniture and lighting design across America and Europe. One of the few female international designers of her generation, her work encompassed contract and domestic furniture, lighting, textiles and glassware.

Jane Young studied interior design at Manchester College of Art, then furniture at Royal College of Art (1965-68) under the professorship of David Pye where she was a contemporary of artists and designers George Hardie, Richard Wentworth, Roger Dean and James Dyson.

In 1968 Young won the RCA Travel Scholarship and went to work for Olivetti, Milan under Ettore Sottsass as colour consultant and graphic artist for Synthesis 45 and as researcher and graphic artist for the Olivetti publication ‘L’Arte di Colorare l’Ufficio: Le Combinazioni Olivetti Synthesis’.

She married ex-RCA graduate Charles Dillon in 1971. Charles had worked as an assistant to Polish artist Stefan Knapp in London and under Sottsass at Olivetti in Milan. Inspired by American designers Charles & Ray Eames they founded Charles & Jane Dillon Associates and set up their studio in Chelsea. Their first collaborative effort won the 1972 Dunlopillo Design Award whose jurors included Dieter Rams and Kenneth Grange. Along with their close friends Richard Wentworth and Carl Plackman they founded Dilston Studio, Bermondsey. The Dillons were twice selected for the Adi-Fad Delta Awards for their seating ranges Actis and Jobber. During it’s production Actis sold a million units across America. Their Cometa ‘Kite’ Light (1972) is considered an influential piece of British design and is held in the collection of the V&A Museum and Barcelona Museum of Art.
Charles Dillon died in 1982 and with new partners Peter Wheeler, Floris van den Broecke, she founded Dillon, Wheeler, Van den Broecke. In the late 1990’s Dillon collaborated with ceramicist Janice Tchalenko, artist Lynne Wilson and later with Tom Grieves and Michael Waller as Studio Dillon, extending her design practice into glassware and textile design installations.

Her collaborative, multi-disciplinary studio produced designs for Herman Miller USA, Olivetti, Cassina, Zanotta, Salviati, Planular, Kron, Perobell, Casas, Amat, Bd Ediciones de Diseño, Vinçon Barcelona, Disform, Santa & Cole, Habitat, Heals, Conran Shop, Design Council, Wolff Olins, Faber-Castell, Science Museum London amongst others.

She was made a Fellow of the Chartered Society of Designers in 1989. For over 30 years she taught furniture and industrial design at the Royal College of Art and was made an Honorary Fellow in 2007. She has served on numerous judging and advisory panels and given lectures and workshops worldwide.

After closing her design studio in 2008, the V&A Museum acquired her complete studio archive of drawings, prototypes, photographs and slides.

Several of Charles & Jane Dillon’s designs were exhibited in the Terence Conran retrospective at Design Museum and as part of the 175th Anniversary of Royal College of Art London 2012.