British kitchen designer Johnny Grey was born in London and raised on a farm in the Sussex Downs in England. One of his first kitchen projects was for his maternal aunt, British cookery writer Elizabeth David.
When the sink cabinet in her rather rustic kitchen began to fall apart, Elizabeth suggested that her 17-year-old nephew should build her a new one, this time at the right height and with a solid construction. Johnny built the new cabinet in the street, much to the amusement of Elizabeth's neighbours in Chelsea.
Johnny was later educated at the London Architectural Association School of Architecture. After graduating, he set up a design studio and furniture workshop and also pursued a brief career as an antique dealer.
In the early 1980s, while working with British kitchen manufacturer Smallbone of Devizes, he pioneered the "Unfitted Kitchen," resulting in a new freedom and creativity for designing kitchens, bedrooms, and bathrooms without built-in rigidity of continuous counters and wall based units.
Johnny has authored and contributed to several volumes on kitchen and home design: Kitchen Culture: Re-inventing Kitchen Design (2004/2005/2007); The Complete Home Design Book (1998); The Hard-Working House (1997); The Kitchen Work Book (1997); and The Art of Kitchen Design (1994).
For the last several years, Johnny has been involved with neuroscience research at the University of Salford in Manchester, UK with Professor John Zeisel on the subject of well-being and architecture. His global speaking engagements have included a design tour of Canada, Australia and New Zealand to discuss "Sociability and Sanctuary" of kitchen design. In 2008, Johnny won the Simon Taylor Award for lifetime achievement in the kitchen industry.
Who is your favourite designer/architect and why?
Glenn Murcutt the Aussie architect who designs buildings that fit into the context so beautifully whether the bush or into an urban location. They are light, appropriate scale and poetically modern without being minimalist.
Do you have any hidden talents?
Being a dad to four kids and a nearly perfect husband.
What was the first thing you designed?
A new staircase in our Sussex cottage because the Victorian one collapsed and someone had to do it or we could not get upstairs. I was 14 at the time and had to build and install it too.