Where did you grow up?
Facing the countryside of Derbyshire UK on one side and the coal fields and slag heaps on the other. The Derwent valley, where I went to school, is the birthplace of industry and that had a powerful effect on my childhood.
How did you start in the industry?
I’d been building speakers and sound systems since school days but it really got serious when I was appointed by B&W to design active loudspeakers.
When and how did you start your company?
I quit B&W because I had got quite seriously involved with pro audio and their management had lost interest in anything beyond the core hifi business. After a revitalising couple of years away I was introduced to these guys in Durban SA who were trying to get a speaker business off the ground and I just liked their style so joined up with them as technical director.
Who have been the most interesting clients and why?
I most value clients who buy my stuff because of their love of music. The whole point of hifi is to provide the clearest window onto the artistic performance. We get a proportion who buy them for their sculptural value and that’s pretty cool too!
What actions and qualities most contributed to your success?
As a child I had a completely fearless approach to taking stuff apart, no matter how many times I couldn’t put it back together. That taught me a lot about how stuff works, which is handy when it comes to designing stuff which is intended to work. These days I reckon it’s my disregard for the established approach if I feel there’s a better way.
What is the best day you ever had?
My 51st Birthday was pretty damned fine.
What is your favourite thing to do when not working?
Hang out and talk nonsense with people I love
Your favourite city and why?
Paris is simply a beautiful city in so many contrasting dimensions; the art, the food, the emotion and the engineering. The arrogance, the love, the care…I could go on.
What actions do you take to keep a certain quality of life?
I make sure I spend some time working with my hands. A life spent designing, especially on-screen, talking and working with the business really dulls the mind. I find getting into the workshop and fashioning wood or metal is as close as I get to meditation. I guess it’s my take on finding a mantra.
What are you working on now and what are your plans for the future?
Apart from a tree-house for my daughter, Vivid Audio has established itself as a quality high-end brand and I feel the time is right to start considering how I can distil the essence of what makes our products work into a range of more accessible designs. Taking crude cost out of things without compromise is just the beginning; the right products will need a form which preserves the engineering needs of a speaker and the essential aesthetic theme which runs through our products but perhaps without quite the level of flamboyancy of our Giya range.