I like simple quality which works well and lasts. Things don’t even need to be beautiful, just not ugly. It seems so easy and obvious to me and yet it is hard to find products which fulfil those criteria.

It’s 2007 on the eve of 100% Design (then the premiere event in the UK design calendar) and Matthew Hilton is about to launch himself as a new ‘lifestyle’ brand with a range of timber furniture. However, all is not well. The pieces that he has manufactured in Sri Lanka (after visiting the factory on a number of occasions) are stuck in customs. On the morning of the show he has to drive a van to the Suffolk coast and unload his container. But the work hasn’t been packed properly and as a result has warped and cracked. As he sits across a table from me in his Crystal Palace-based studio, he flinches, almost imperceptibly, at the memory. ‘I’d expected the delivery a fortnight before. When I think about it now it was just horrendous.’

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