Originally I studied Sculpture and then on graduating set up a little design-and-make furniture workshop. After a few years this grew like Topsy and I ended up with nearly 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 interiors people for whom I worked as a freelance furniture designer. This freed me up to be able to spend more time on drawing and research, and also making new work, which I exhibited widely - and still do.
More recently, after setting up my studio in an old chapel in Deepest Herefordshire, I went ‘bodging’ (or greenwood chair-making). This led on 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 - perhaps less now, but very much used to be - 'we can make it, whatever you want, we'll make it.'
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.