Originally I studied Sculpture and then on graduating set up a design-and-make furniture workshop. After a few years this had grown to the point where I had a dozen employees making one-off pieces, fitted furniture, and large architecturally-inspired 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, and was invited to become a Visiting Tutor. I closed my workshop and began a new life as a freelance designer with time for drawing, for research, and for making things speculatively, as well as taking on commissions from manufacturers and retailers. 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 the Bodging Milano
project which unexpectedly developed a life of its own and led to many experiments and fruitful collaborations with other designers.
Every place has its particular character and I'm 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 was : 'OK, whatever you want, we'll make it' and this still lingers to some extent, even today. My father was in charge of the city's electricity supply and as a lad I was sometimes allowed to accompany him 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, die-stamping, drop-forging, or any number of other types of manufacture.
I think it must have been all this at an impressionable age which started me off on the idea of making things.
Above : Bird's Eye Birmingham