I was born in London in 1959, the same year C.P. Snow gave his infamous 'two cultures' lecture about the apparently eternal divide in Britain between the arts and sciences. Perhaps this is where it all begins. Forced to choose one or the other at school and university, I chose the latter, gaining an MA in natural sciences from Cambridge.
By graduation, I was aware of a latent interest in the arts, particularly in architecture and design, and was seeking ways to satisfy all these urges in something resembling a career. Journalism seemed the obvious answer, and after a string of increasingly disastrous editorial positions on technical magazines, I went freelance in 1986 and was able at last to write about what really interested me in newspapers and magazines in all these fields.
Having an American mother and an English father makes me, as it says on jars of honey, 'the produce of more than one country', and has left me with a curiosity about matters of national identity. Living in the United States gave me the opportunity to write my first book, using my semi-detachment from the culture to identify a renaissance in contemporary American design. Its success led to a larger-scale examination of design and national cultures as well as a number other design books and a five-year stint as design critic of the New Statesman.
Now, the science was losing out. Over-compensating perhaps, I wrote an entire book about a single molecule-albeit an exceptionally novel and beautiful one, called buckminsterfullerene. Here at last science and design began to merge. My projects since then have continued to explore science, design, architecture, national identity and other themes in books and exhibitions.
I am a member of the Society of Authors and a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. I live in Norfolk and London with my wife Moira, son Sam, and two Maine coon cats.