Beautifully Simple, as an exhibition, was never supposed to happen. Initially, we wanted to celebrate the fact that Studio Makgill is ten years old, perhaps in the form of a book championing our approach and work. But the more I thought about it, the less I liked that idea. In fact, I couldn’t think of anything worse – for me or anyone else – than being invited to a show all about us.
If anything, I was much more interested in sharing a way of making that has been with me from long before I began to think about being a designer.
I grew up in an artist’s home. My mother is painter and would often draw musicians, dancers and singers at theatres in London. I remember as a child wondering at the pace with which she worked, and at the beautiful simplicity of the outcome.
Everything exhibited in Beautifully Simple has the same effect on me as those pen-and-ink drawings had all those years ago. They are not minimalist, and they don’t hold to a particular aesthetic. They are works so reduced to their functions as to feel absolutely right. Not one actually tries to be beautiful or different or timeless, but they are all these things by virtue of their makers adhering to a strict set of restrictions, either self-imposed or circumstantial – or in some cases, a bit of both.
In numerical homage to the birthday party we never had, there are ten exhibits at Beautifully Simple. I like that they include a plate of food and a film. After all, the beautifully simple comes in many forms.
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