Listen to this article
Deyan Sudjic, 60, director of the Design Museum, has held a variety of academic posts and directorships and has published many books on design and architecture.
What was your earliest ambition?
To be an architect. For an insecure adolescent, it seemed the best way to get your life choices out of the way in one hit: choose what you studied, so that you knew the job you would have afterwards. Of course, it didn’t quite work out that way but architecture did bring with it the sense that you could change the world around you, starting with your handwriting, closely followed by your bedroom furniture.
Public school or state school? University or straight into work?
Direct grant; then Edinburgh University.
Who was or still is your mentor?
Peter Murray, who got me my first job as a journalist and pushed me into becoming a magazine editor. And Simon Esterson, the graphic designer who actually taught me how to be an editor.
How physically fit are you?
Fitter than I was – but not as fit as I once was.
Ambition or talent: which matters more to success?
Knowing your limitations probably matters more than either.
Have you ever taken an IQ test?
Yes – but then I also once took a psychological aptitude test. The Daily Mirror graduate trainee scheme wanted to know if I would rather have a tidy desk or sex. I ask you.
How politically committed are you?
The last mayoral election in London was the first time that I have ever voted for a candidate who was not a member of the Labour party.
Do you have more than one home?
No – I live in a house in north London, with tattoo parlours and vomit on one side of the street and Nash’s sublime Regent’s Park five minutes away on the other.
Do you consider your carbon footprint?
I do – but I have always seen carbon offset as the modern version of selling indulgences.
What would you like to own that you don’t currently possess?
The Farnsworth House, designed by Mies van der Rohe – though the Villa Savoye by Le Corbusier would be almost as good.
What’s your biggest extravagance?
A reluctance to spend less than £20 on a bottle of wine.
In what place are you happiest?
At my desk in my study, when the books have just been reorganised, the window is open, it’s 6am and London is still quiet; on the upper deck of a Boeing 747 as the doors close for a long-haul flight, with an empty seat beside me.
What ambitions do you still have?
To open a better museum, to write a better book.
What drives you on?
Curiosity tempered by impatience.
What is the greatest achievement of your life so far?
Learning how to say no.
What has been your greatest disappointment?
Not being young enough to have moved to China in 1992 when I first went there.
If your 20-year-old self could see you now, what would he think?
“What have you done to our face?”
If you lost everything tomorrow, what would you do?
Australia is nice at this time of year.
Do you believe in assisted suicide?
Perhaps selfishly, I would find it even more difficult to do than to ask for it to be done to me.
Do you believe in an afterlife?
Social media means that servers will make us live for ever, long after we have run out of things to say.
If you had to rate your satisfaction with your life so far, out of 10, what would you score?
I have no complaints.
The Design Museum will move from its current premises in Shad Thames to a new home in the former Commonwealth Institute in Kensington in 2015