"It's best to start with the desk itself (1). It belonged to Henry Cole, our founder. There's a funny flap on one side, which I presume you clipped up for your secretary to take dictation. The ink-stand (2) was also his. The model (3) is of our proposed spiral-shaped contemporary extension by Daniel Liebeskind. I suppose it's Britain's answer to Bilbao's Guggenheim - only much better. We show it to potential supporters, and now we have to raise pounds 80m. The books (4) are some of our latest publications. The top one is Fashion in Detail, and, underneath, a book about woodcarver Grinling Gibbons, which coincides with an exhibition, opening on 22 October. The slides (5) are for a lecture I am giving here on 11 November about war memorials. The bronze figure (6) is from the Benin, Africa. I bought it in an antiques shop in Wales. The owner of the shop told me the previous owner had used it as a mascot on the bonnet of his Range Rover! My in-tray (7) is extensive - much larger than my out tray (8). Organisations like ours produce lots of paper, we're not very kind to trees. My Psion (9) is essential, it contains my diary, numbers and useful information. The letter opener (10) was my father's. It has a ruler and a clever penknife, I even use it to open letters."
Interview by Aoife O'Riordain
Photograph by Adrian Fisk