Q&A: Chrissie Macdonald

What’s the appeal of working by hand?

I began working in this way because I enjoy realising ideas in a 3D environment and wasn’t able to communicate these effectively in the digital realm. For me, working by hand is more intuitive, and the restrictions of the materials can also help to inform the design and outcome. I like the parameters and problem-solving that come with creating pieces in the real world, although I don’t think the process should get in the way of an idea.

One part of your work is produced through the mechanical means of photography – why, for you, is it important to maintain an element of the handmade in this medium?

I like that such an ephemeral medium, such as sculpting with card – often used as maquettes of something more permanent – could be captured in a photograph to become more lasting; the finished product. After shooting my own work at university, I soon discovered the important role photography plays in communicating my ideas. More than merely documenting the object, it can enhance it, so I began to collaborate with photographers to create these images. For a long time now my pieces have been shot and retouched digitally, so it’s definitely a marriage between the handmade and technology.

What does working by hand bring to the relationship between your work and its audience?

I’m not sure if people relate more to the handmade and are, perhaps unnecessarily, more impressed by this process than digitally produced images. Although I hope that the handmade comes through in my work, for me, the content of the piece and how it communicates an idea is more important than the process used to create it.

What place do you think handmade will have in the future of design?

I think we are all analogue creatures to a degree and the handmade will always have a place in design, but I’m excited by how it might be used and developed alongside digital technologies.


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