Taken at face value, simplicity can be described as plain, or even boring. But ironically, simplicity can be a difficult thing to achieve. It can take a lot of time and effort, through processes of reduction or even destruction, to work out which components are truly necessary, (such is life). It’s a subtle robustness, a distilled design, an everlasting beauty. ‘Simple’ has an overlooked impact on our everyday lives.
Helen Osgerby, founder of the aptly named online design store Simple Shape, specialises in sourcing highly skilled, British & Irish craftspeople from a variety of creative disciplines, who all make well. It’s a rational and considered selection process that underpins one of Simple Shape’s purposes – to champion quality, not necessarily quantity. Simple but effective.
There are many gems that Helen has unearthed. From the striking patterns of Esme Winter to the boldness of Tom Pigeon’s stationery, from the impeccable woollen blankets by Eleanor Pritchard, to the classic willow baskets from Jenny Pearce. It’s a remarkable selection, all sharing the same high quality principles.
Having started at a similar time as Simple Shape, in April 2015, The City Works are quite proud to be positioned alongside these masters of their respective fields, with our own colour-in posters and hand singer-sewn notebooks making the cut.
Besides our newness, The City Works and Simple Shape also share a love for London life. A long-term resident of South East London, Helen tells us how she could never imagine living anywhere else, citing the V&A museum and Nunhead Cemetery as a few of her favourite places. “I love driving back through town at night after a weekend away. I grew up in the middle of nowhere and the novelty of the city hasn’t worn off yet!”
Helen charmingly reflects upon her love for her local park, Nunhead Cemetery: “It is magical in all seasons and all weathers. From frozen leaves, thick mud, puddles that threaten the top of your wellies, to billowing cow parsley and the unfurling green canopy in Spring, I love it! And when you get to the highest point there is a gap in the trees and you get the most brilliant view of St Paul’s. You can feel so hidden away and then you get the view, it’s such a great reminder that the city is out there.”
“Also, a tiny new Pakistani restaurant, Masala Wala, has opened up just down the road from where I live – it can probably only fit 15 people in it. It is run by a family, the mum cooks and her daughters organise the front of house. The menu is fresh, simple and completely delicious.”
We were interested to find out what an ideal work day would be at Simple Shape, and ironically enough, Helen described how she recently had her ideal day, spent collaborating over coffee and sunshine with Yeshen Venema, an established photographer who shoots the entire Simple Shape inventory. They were working on a new miniature movie of some “key pieces from the collection”.
It would appear things go well for Simple Shape, with Helen describing her job as “ridiculous to even call it work” at times. When asked about the future, Helen humorously recalls her childhood aim to be a shop keeper when she grew up. An intention that still carriers through to today. Some day, she would love to exhibit her collection in the flesh, in her very own bricks and mortar store.
Until Simple Shape becomes your local shop for coveted gifts, you can find this unique stockist online here.
Photo Credit: Yeshen
Article by Rowan Ottesen, Co-founder of The City Works.