Stephen Bayley is an author, critic, columnist, consultant, broadcaster, debater and curator.
Stephen Bayley was once described as the “second most intelligent man in Britain”, this is both debatable and possibly untrue, but he was certainly the person for whom the term “design guru” was coined, a title he accepted with what he likes to think of as self-deprecating irony.
He was educated formally in the Universities of Manchester and Liverpool, informally on the autoroutes, autostrade, cafes, bars and museums of Europe. He taught at the University of Kent before being plucked from the tedium of provincial academe to create The Boilerhouse Project in the V&A, an exhibition space devoted to design which became London’s most successful gallery of the eighties.
Then, with Sir Terence Conran, he created London’s influential Design Museum.
“It arose from a conversation between Terence Conran and me in 1978. He was the proprietor of Habitat, whose decent, modern merchandise revolutionised popular taste, and I was the author of a book about design he had just discovered.”
‘How the Design Museum lost its way, by co-founder Stephen Bayley‘, The Spectator Aug 2016
He was briefly and hilariously Creative Director of The Millennium Dome before a spectacular falling-out with Peter Mandelson which he wrote about in his book, Labour Camp (1998). Over the past forty years his writing has changed the popular perception of “design”.
His books include In Good Shape (1979), The Albert Memorial (1981), Harley Earl and The Dream Machine (1983), Sex Drink and Fast Cars (1986), Commerce and Culture (1989), Taste (1991), Sex – a cultural history (2000), A Dictionary of Idiocy (2003), Life’s a Pitch (2007), Design : intelligence made visible (2007), Cars (2008), Woman as Design (2009), La Dolce Vita (2011), Ugly – the Aesthetics of Everything (2012) and Death Drive (2016).
He is a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres, an Honorary Fellow of The RIBA, a Trustee of The Royal Fine Arts Commission Trust and a Fellow of The University of Wales.
Stephen Bayley’s Death Drive was one of the most talked-about books of the year and was the catalyst for an extraordinary event – the recreation of JG Ballard’s exhibition, Crashed Cars: