Art and design are concepts that have been around for over 40,000 years. Although our humanlike ancestors did not have the standard of art and design that we have today.
Humans of today continually develop and engage with art, design and personal style. For many, these notions allow them tranquillity, beauty and escape.
Greg McGee is co-director of York According to McGee gallery and judge on BBC's 'Best House in Town' and we asked him ‘what does art and design mean to you?’.
Greg enthused that one great thing about being forced to stay at home, due to coronavirus UK lockdown, is that domestic beauty has been finally and fully democratised. He went on to explain that interior design used to be so upmarket and in the late 90s people suddenly began discussing it over coffee, over a pint and in the car. He said: “This new confidence was symptomatic of a public who had begun to take home life more seriously. Rather than just decorating a room, we planned it, composed it and allowed it to sing.”
The gallery owner explained that interior design is much like dealing art as there is the inception of the idea, the execution and the exhibition. Greg described that a great house demands to be shown off, much like a painting. He believes that a home must be a welcome sanctuary that recharges you and that ‘home is the second most emotive word in the English language after 'mother'. Like ‘mother’ it should give you a big hug and tell you it's all going to be okay’.
Over 20 years later, Greg says people have fully embraced that the best homes are simply those that best reflect the lives of their dwellers and that the best litmus test of someone's personality is the way their house looks: idiosyncrasy and independence are better than following tested schools of thought. He adds that despite the smirking of certain neighbours, details like a burgundy wall, botanical wallpaper, or Bond gadgetry in the man cave always make a better impression than diluting decorations to fit in with everyone else.
According to Greg, living rooms must work hard to cater for the ‘crazy nights’ followed by the ‘cosy nights’. He said: “It has to take the wear and tear of actually living in it, and it also has to be comfortable and luxuriant. The best way of nailing that is texture and pattern. Crushed velvet cushions are inviting as they are to sit on. Soft furnishings and grey rugs can help too.”
He continued: “People still think modern design has to be hard, glossily black, mildly brutal, geometric - in my opinion, exotic and indulgent details are more pleasing.”
Greg warns that books are important in living rooms, but they can easily go wrong, you must remember ‘it’s not a doctors office’. He urges to make sure that books reflect your passions and declares that as an art collector, his books are focused on paintings, clay and design.
Ultimately, Greg states that, by definition, a living room must reflect your life. For an art dealer like himself, it is great to see that glam is often the first step in making that statement.
For Greg, bathrooms must have a dual identity and he says ‘every bathroom needs to be two rooms’. He describes that in the morning, it is about functionality. We need it to be clean, bright and do what it says on the tin. Conversely, after work Greg expresses that the same room needs to be a balm on the brain, a candlelit sanctuary where you can absolve the sins of the day in a long, hot bath, letting your mind melt which he says, ‘will not happen in a room that looks as if it should be in the Death Star’.
His tips for design in a bathroom include using colour in the bathroom to offset and soak up some of the reflected light as this will add space and depth. Dimmer lights will help when it is time to relax and of course a painting from York’s According to McGee gallery will add the final touch.
For Greg, there should always be opulence in bedrooms, with lashings of rich layers. He believes that it should resemble a KISS concert, the Sagrada Familia or a firework display. He exclaims: “Subtlety is overrated. I’m Catholic. The Pope’s Prada wardrobe is shy and retiring as far as I’m concerned.”
His gallerist tips see that trans-continental seems to be connecting now. The newness from fusing cultures’ different artwork is really pleasing and open.
Finishing with some miscellaneous tips, Greg enthuses that ‘this isn’t Mary Poppins’, you do not have to call attention to how proud you are of the chimney breast. Carefully placed decorations either side calls attention to the features and not what is needlessly, anachronistically massive part of the house.
He continued saying that colour is always good. The colour of the landscapes he sells are pale blue. Greg says this is a suggestion of a soothing summer’s day, or the adventure of distant hills untravelled and that either way, it pulls the wall away from you. In addition, orange has a habit of bringing it back to you as it is heavy, like black. He advises sticking to blue as it allows for wriggle room for edible, heavier details. “You try putting a Jackson Pollock on a bright red wall.”
Greg also urges not to forget that acoustics, such as rugs, cushions and curtains, ‘can make a colossal difference’.
To end, we see that for each person art and design means some entirely different. For Greg, mass colour, added texture and bold pattern is the recipe for his own, personal retreat.
Article by: Brooke Murphy
I’m Brooke and I am currently in my final year of studying BA Hons Fashion Journalism at the University of Sunderland. I have always had a passion for writing about maximalism art and fashion and I am excited for this opportunity at 'The Connoisseur' to allow me to focus on and develop my skills further.