Kevin McCloud talks lighting, design & Birmingham!

We have a very interesting interview with Kevin McCloud. Kevin is the ambassador for Grand Designs Live.

Below is an very interesting interview with Kevin McCloud. Kevin is the ambassador for Grand Designs Live.  Kevin McCloud will be at Grand Designs Live, that takes place from 8-10 October at Birmingham’s NEC. Click here to book tickets


-          Can you please outline your career background?

After working  as a designer in theatres, I decided to set up my own lighting and furniture design business ‘McCloud Lighting’ which I sold in 1999; I was good at the creative stuff but not so good at running a business.  I have written several books on lighting for the home as well as colours to choose when one considers decorating their house and I’m working on another book which will be out later this year. In my early TV days, I appeared on Home Front and also presented Don’t Look Down for BBC 2. Then Grand Designs came my way.

-         How did you get into design and architecture, and why are you so passionate about design?

I started by pursuing a (terminated) career in music, and then I went to Cambridge to take a degree in languages, which quickly changed to philosophy, then finally to the history of art and architecture. I then retrained as a designer and led two weird, parallel lives designing both in the theatre and in peoples houses. Ive designed exhibitions, graphics, product and spaces, settling eventually – for no particular reason other than people bought the stuff – on lighting and furniture. I really enjoyed it all and had some great experiences.

My passion for design really stems from the huge influence my father was on me whilst growing up. He was a rocket scientist and engineer, who taught me that there is no such thing as fear of technology, a man who believed in the power of science and invention. He was a man who strew bits of car engine over the kitchen table every weekend.

I appreciated how things worked and were put together and the intricacies of their designs.

-          What is your view of architecture in Birmingham? In recent years, Birmingham was one of the first cities to exhibit the blobitecture style with the construction of the Selfridges store at the Bullring Shopping centre designed by Future Systems, architects of space age style.

(blobitecture – a movement in architecture in which buildings have an organic, amoeba-shaped bulging form. Creation of new and unusual forms.

I really like Birmingham, I like the centre so much (to walk around it), and particularly in the fact that the town hall has been beautifully refurbished and that it is becoming an increasingly ‘walk-able’ city, by which I mean you can get around it easily. I love ‘waking’ cities.

The architecture in Birmingham is slightly contradictory; it defies and contradicts your expectations in a positive way, and that’s a good thing.

Although I’m not a huge fan of the blobitecture style, I am a fan of architecture which is delightful and which is responsive to where it is. There is, in every city, room for great iconic buildings and the Selfridges building in Birmingham had that kind of impact, it had that Bilbao effect that every city in the world now wants because they sort of equate with economic regeneration. But I think what’s more interesting is the quieter stuff that’s going on in the Jewellery Quarter and along the canals, with plenty of great restaurants and  social spaces which work really well.

It’s interesting that Birmingham’s regeneration has come slightly later compared to other cities in Britain, even Leeds, and certainly much more so than Manchester which had a good 20 years head start. Birmingham has been able to learn from some of the mistakes from these other places and concentrated more on the public spaces and walkability more than other cities. It’s a marvelous city and I love it for that.

-          What advice would you give to those considering a self-build?

Very easy – spend the money on the bones.  Spend the money on the stuff that is there forever, not the frippery like kitchens and bathrooms which can be replaced.  Think of the architecture, glazing and core materials

Kevin McCloud is the ambassador for Grand Designs Live; he will be appearing at Grand Designs Live Birmingham sponsored by npower juice on Friday 8th – 10th October 2010.

Based on the popular Channel 4 TV series presented by Kevin McCloud, Grand Designs Live brings to life real home improvement projects, cutting-edge design, eco-friendly innovation, and interior design, through a series of live interactive features, across a three day event.


This year’s Birmingham show will be spread over six different sections which include: The Grand Village, Grand Build sponsored by VELUX, Grand Interiors, Grand Kitchens sponsored by Miele, Grand Bathrooms and Grand Gardens.

With over 500 of the UK’s biggest and best brands exhibiting their latest product ranges across the event, as well as expert advice on everything from planning, designing and building your own home to adding those finishing touches from our Grand Designs Expert Advice centre sponsored by VELUX, visitors will be able to buy, build and furnish a house, all under one roof.

Grand Designs Live Birmingham, sponsored by npower juice will take place from Friday 8th until Sunday 10th October 2010, at the NEC, Birmingham. Opening 10am-6pm Friday & Saturday and 10am-5pm Sunday.

Just Do Property have an exclusive offer from Grand Designs Live – save up to 50%*

Book tickets for just £9 (saving up to 50%)* visit www.granddesignslive.com or call
0871 230 5583 and quote VST10. Plus, kids fifteen and under go free!

T&Cs: Saving based on door rate of £18, transaction fee applies, kids 15 and
under go free when accompanied by an adult, see website for details.

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