Not many people set up a new business at the age of 64. But that’s exactly what Michael Wolff did when he co-founded The Fourth Room after a long career which included establishing Wolff Olins in 1964 (where he stayed until 1983), Addison between 1987-92 and a stint as a non-executive director of the then Newell and Sorrell. ‘Being a more mature person, it makes it more exciting because we know exactly what we want to do,’ he says. Now 66, Wolff remains as enthused as ever, driven by a constant striving to improve and to avoid the derivative, mediocre and revenue-driven design he feels is prevalent today. ‘[My favourite work] is always what I’m doing at the time. The work is always flawed – there’s nothing I would’ve done differently now. It’s the only way to keep sharp,’ he says.
Though critical of today’s design industry, he embraces the present, rather than dwelling on past achievements, and has no plans to stop. ‘You have to get into the spirit of the time you’re in. That’s what keeps you going… I still feel like I’m starting out in this industry,’ he says. n