VQ&A: Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen
What is your favourite V& A object?
I've often said in interviews that one of my favourite things about the V& A is the enormous plaster fig leaf that was created to hide David's modesty or to preserve everybody else's modesty and I think it was for the visit of Queen Alexandra which surprised me as I always thought she was a bit racy but obviously not.
What are the qualities of a good designer?
The most useful thing to any designer is actually just a good memory. It's absolutely the best thing you could ever have, you see that in people like Karl Lagerfeld, you see that in architects like Gilbert Scott and Soames, Pugin, William Morris, I think all of them had a real ability to hoover up loads of information and then sift it and allow themselves to cherry pick bits that they like and use them to create their own thing.
How would you define good design?
My personal definition of good design is just that it looks absolutely drop dead gorgeous, I'm not really that bothered about how well it works I have to say.
What is the most important piece of design in your daily life?
I suppose suits. I still maintain that men of our generation are absolutely mad, men in our society are mad. The suit has evolved over two, three hundred, four hundred years to make men look as good as they possibly can look. Why don't we wear them more often? I love wearing a suit, I'd wear a suit on the beach.
What is your favourite material?
I do love lacquer. I love old lacquer and indeed… ok well there we go peacock lacquer and I'm probably in heaven.
What is your greatest design extravagance?
I don't really believe in extravagance at all. I don't believe in extravagance as something that should be remarked upon, I think life should just be what you want it to be and I think I like things to be by anyone else's definition extravagant. I like design to be full fat and I like design to clog your arteries.
What do you think of the British attitude to design?
We're very bad at celebrating; I think we're very bad at enjoying it. We don't put designers on our bank notes, we put engineers, we love our engineers. Particularly at the moment I think design has been completely overtaken by engineering, it's about mechano it's not about making things pretty, it's not about rococo, it's not about baroque, it's about building it as an exo skeleton.
What would you be if you weren't a designer?
I originally wanted to be a barrister and I still hanker after the wig, infact I wouldn't wear the wig that would be my thing, I'd just powder my hair.
Do you have a personal motto?
Never wear brown shoes with a blue suit, which I think is probably the best advice you could give anyone.