My cul­tural life Sir John Sorrell CBE re­veals what he’s read­ing, watch­ing and lis­ten­ing to this month

An ar­biter of taste re­veals their cul­tural in­spi­ra­tions, from mu­si­cal awak­en­ings to favourite ex­hi­bi­tions

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A pil­lar of Bri­tain’s de­sign com­mu­nity, John Sorrell CBE is best known for co­found­ing the Lon­don De­sign Fes­ti­val. The pro­lific graphic de­signer, en­trepreneur and phi­lan­thropist ran brand­ing agency Newell and Sorrell with his wife Frances for 25 years. Since then, the cou­ple have fo­cused on the cre­ative sec­tor as a whole, launch­ing The Sorrell Foun­da­tion in 1999, fol­lowed by The Satur­day Club Trust, both char­i­ties that fo­cus on pro­mot­ing arts ed­u­ca­tion. Sorrell has chaired the De­sign Coun­cil, served as UK Busi­ness Am­bas­sador, is a Trustee of the V&A and an ad­vi­sor to the Mayor of Lon­don on Brexit and its po­ten­tial im­pact on the cap­i­tal’s many cre­ative in­dus­tries. 2018’s Lon­don De­sign Fes­ti­val takes place this month (see p251 for our guide), as does the sec­ond De­sign Bi­en­nale, a co­in­cid­ing show­down over at Som­er­set House (4–23 Septem­ber; som­er­set­house.org.uk).

The book that has in­flu­enced me the

most is An­i­mal Draw­ing ( 3) by John Skeap­ing. My fa­ther gave me a sec­ond­hand copy of it when I was seven, and I was com­pletely fas­ci­nated by the beau­ti­ful draw­ings. I tried to copy them. It was the be­gin­ning of my in­ter­est in art and de­sign. My favourite piece of mu­sic is With God on our Side, which I saw per­formed live at the 1963 New­port Folk Fes­ti­val by Bob Dy­lan and Joan Baez when I was a stu­dent at Hornsey Col­lege of Art. They sang with heart-break­ing pas­sion and in­ten­sity. My favourite film? I would have to name a few: High Noon, Apoca­lypse Now ( 4) and

every one of the The God­fa­ther tril­ogy. A quote I par­tic­u­larly like is one from my wife, Frances, that’s in Def­i­ni­tions of De­sign, a book I pro­duced when I was chair­man of the De­sign Coun­cil. I had be­come fed up with peo­ple ask­ing me, ‘ What is the def­i­ni­tion of de­sign?’, so gath­ered fifty an­swers from dif­fer­ent peo­ple. Frances’ def­i­ni­tion? ‘Hard work.’ My ul­ti­mate mu­seum has to be the V&A ( 5), and my favourite ob­ject on dis­play there is the world’s first 3D-printed gun. It pro­vokes strong re­ac­tions and makes peo­ple think. If I could choose an­other mu­seum, it would be MOMA in New York. The last ex­hi­bi­tion I saw was ‘ The Na­tional Satur­day Club Sum­mer Show’ at Som­er­set House, which show­cased the work of the 1,500 13–16 year olds who at­tended free Satur­day morn­ing classes at their lo­cal univer­sity, col­lege or mu­seum. The young peo­ple’s work is bril­liant. If I won the lot­tery, the work of art

I would buy would be by ei­ther Jack­son Pol­lock, Lu­cian Freud, Frank Auer­bach, Robert Rauschen­berg or Jasper Johns – such as Targets and Flags (1968) ( 2).

The next place I’m trav­el­ling to is Corn­wall ( 1). I en­joy ex­plor­ing mu­se­ums and dis­cov­er­ing streets, but in Corn­wall, Frances and I will have a lit­tle break and see fam­ily. It will be com­pletely re­lax­ing.

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