My Secret Life: Matthew Hilton, furniture designer

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Matthew Hilton was born in Hastings, England, on 31 January 1957. A furniture designer, he currently has his own label for 100% Design London, and he also works for Ercol and Case. He continues to produce key product ranges for Habitat, where he was head of furniture design until 2004. He is a member of the faculty of Royal Design for Industry and lives in south London with his wife and child.



I drive: a Toyota Carina. It's very ordinary and we hardly ever use it, so I'm about to give it up. I cycle to work and also use my travel card.

If I have time to myself: This isn't a complaint but I rarely have time to myself. I would like to learn to sail, listen to music, take photographs, go for long walks and build a house or cabin in the country.

You wouldn't know it but I'm very good at: mathematics, spelling, languages, remembering things, football, keeping in contact with very good friends and family.

You may not know it but I'm no good at: using a calculator, swimming, writing lists.

A book that changed me: Siddhartha by Herman Hesse.

Movie heaven: Well, it isn't heaven at all, but the film which has most affected me is The Deer Hunter.

Comfort eating: Fish and chips, steak and kidney pie with peas, good dark warm British bitter, bread and cheese. Or a good Keralan curry from my local Indian restaurant, Ganapati.

When I was a child I wanted to be: a fireman and a pilot, then I wanted to work for the Forestry Commission; I imagined it would involve walking around in a forest looking at the trees and climbing them and occasionally chopping one or two down.

I wish I'd never worn: the red dress, black wig, feather boa and high heels at that Habitat party!

All my money goes on: my house, travel, cameras and computers.

At night I dream of: building a house.

My favourite building is: the De Young Museum in San Francisco by Herzog and de Meuron.

My biggest regret is: not learning to play the piano and guitar, or the harmonica.

It's not fashionable but I like: wearing socks with my Birkenstock sandals.

If I wasn't me I'd like to be: Jimi Hendrix, if he'd lived.

The shop I can't walk past is: the chocolate shop Rococo and Moxon's the fishmonger in East Dulwich, south London.

My favourite work of art is: Caspar David Friedrich's Monk by the Sea (1809).

The soundtrack to my life is: Kind of Blue by Miles Davis.

The best invention ever is: the micro chip.

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