Stephen Paul Bayley (born 13 October 1951 Cardiff, Wales) is a British design critic, cultural critic and author.

Bayley spent his childhood years in Liverpool, attending Booker Avenue County Primary School and Quarry Bank High school (now known as Calderstones School). Growing up in Liverpool, Bayley was inspired by the city's architecture and its built environment.

He was later educated at Manchester University and the University of Liverpool School of Architecture.


He has worked as a museum curator. In the 1970s he was a lecturer in the history of art at the University of Kent, but first became prominent in the 1980s as an authority on style and design when Sir Terence Conran chose him to head up the Boilerhouse Project, at the Victoria and Albert Museum, the V&A, in London. This was Britain's first permanent exhibition of design and it was host to more than 20 exhibitions in five years including Ford Motor Co, Sony, Issey Miyake, Coca Cola and Taste. He then became Chief Executive of the Design Museum in London which grew out of the Boilerhouse Project.

In 1989 he was made a Chevalier de L'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, France's top artistic honour, by the French Minister of Culture and in 1995 he was Periodical Publishers' Association Columnist of the Year.

He was appointed as the creative director of the exhibition at the Millennium Dome in Greenwich. After a series of disputes he resigned in 1998 citing ministerial interference. On his resignation he said of the dome that "it could turn out to be crap", and accused government minister Peter Mandelson of "running the project like a dictator". Mandelson said that "he had not been a dictator but had been decisive and had got a grip on a project that was suffering from drift". Mandelson also said that Mr Bayley's other remarks did not merit a response. Chief Executive of the Dome Project, Jennie Page, gave evidence to a House of Commons Select Committee which included the issue of his resignation.

In 2007, Bayley became The Observer's architecture and design correspondent. In his column of 22 March 2009, he claimed that: "Botticceli's model for The Birth of Venus was a common Florentine hooker called Simonetta Vespucci, painted nude to titillate his client". He was arguing against the motion that: "Britain has become indifferent to beauty" proposed by Roger Scruton and David Starkey, who held an image of The Birth of Venus next to an image of the British supermodel Kate Moss, in order to demonstrate how "cruddy" British culture is.

In July 2008, Bayley, described as a 'design guru', became the first of three non-executive directors to join the management board of Sidhu & Simon Communications, a public relations and sponsorship agency.

He is also the 'style director' of Guest Hotels.


Stephen Bayley Poems

Stephen Bayley Quotes

The assumption must be that those who can see value only in tradition, or versions of it, deny man's ability to adapt to changing circumstances.
Stephen Bayley (b. 1951), British design critic. Commerce and Culture, ch. 3 (1989).
"Where do architects and designers get their ideas?" The answer, of course, is mainly from other architects and designers, so is it mere casuistry to distinguish between tradition and plagiarism?
Stephen Bayley (b. 1951), British design critic. Commerce and Culture, ch. 3 (1989).
As the twentieth century ends, commerce and culture are coming closer together. The distinction between life and art has been eroded by fifty years of enhanced communications, ever-improving reproduction technologies and increasing wealth.
Stephen Bayley (b. 1951), British design critic. Commerce and Culture, ch. 1 (1989).

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