Originally I studied Sculpture and then on graduating set up a design-and-make furniture workshop. After a few years this grew like Topsy and I ended up with a dozen employees. We made one-off pieces, fitted furniture, and large architectural cabinets for a company in New York. In my spare time I made abstract sculpture.
Later I did an MA in Design Studies at Central Saint Martins, where I became a Visiting Tutor.
By this time I'd built up a network of cabinetmakers, manufacturers and retailers and began working as a freelance designer. This freed me up to be able to spend more time on drawing, research, and making things speculatively.
For a few years, I had a studio in an old chapel in Deepest Herefordshire, where I discovered ‘bodging’ (or greenwood chair-making). This led to Bodging Milano which took on a life of its own and developed into many craft-based projects and fruitful collaborations with other designers.
Every place has its particular character and so I'm eternally grateful that I was born and brought up in Birmingham - the former 'city of a thousand trades' and 'workshop of the world'. The Brummie attitude very much used to be 'OK our kid, whatever you want, we'll make it' and this still persists to some extent.
My father was in charge of the city's electricity supply and as a child I was sometimes, as a huge treat, allowed to accompany him - always on a Saturday morning, as that day was more informal - on an inspection of some part of the town teeming with small factories, back-street workshops, sheds up alleys, or some other place where metal-bashing, jewellery, switchgear or gun-making was in progress; or maybe casting, cable-winding, die-stamping, drop-forging, or any number of other types of manufacture.
Therefore I think it must have been all this at an impressionable age which started me off on the idea of making things.