In 1990, after I had left the Royal College of Art and was teaching at Central Saint Martins, an opportunity came up to work in Michele De Lucchi’s studio in Milan. I was 26 years old and just thought ‘Why not have an adventure?’ So I went.
I didn’t know anyone in Milan, but I managed to find a room in a house. When I went there, I was greeted by a very scary old Italian lady who was not happy to be renting with me, and made her opinion very clear. I just went into my room and cried. But fortunately this situation was short-lived, as the old lady moved out soon after and a lovely Italian girl – the same age as me – moved in. Then everything started to get better.
I had always loved the Italian design and architecture group Memphis, which was based in Milan in the 1980s, and I’d lapped up Barbara Radice’s book Memphis (1984). While I had no desire to work in the Memphis style, I was most interested in how they could design anything and everything. Memphis had already disbanded by the time I arrived in the city, but the design community there was strong and vibrant and I was very lucky to be running the graphics section of De Lucchi’s studio.