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Studio, Thinking

The Brutalist Age: Post-war architecture serves as Matt’s primary inspiration for Beautiful Thinking

For this month’s beautiful thinker, our design director Matthew Gilpin spotlights an era of architecture he associates with his love for the city as a west country national.

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Designed by Chamberlin, Powell and Bon, Matt cites the Barbican Centre as the gatekeeper to his passion for a period that exudes brawny and angular exteriors, constructed of humbling hues and raw materials.

“I walk past it and through it everyday noticing something different in the shapes, shadows and colours the architecture creates, and I often head there over lunch to sit in one of the many unexpected quiet green spaces.”
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And from his lunch excursions gave direction for our project with Sleek MakeUp. A challenger in the beauty market by Boots – targeting city-living young women – Matt recalls how the pitted and matte texture of the Barbican’s infrastructure resembled the grain of eye make-up. And how the sepia scale of the city fortress against the blue sky is where the urban identity was birthed for the bold make-up collection. With a vibrant colour palette and edgy patterns, Sleek MakeUp reflected the experimental but positive ethos of the brand.

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For Matt, the UK architectural movement is an explicit display of regenerating the country’s brand after winning the second world war. Even though some may think the brutalist epoch is pretty grim and takes no prisoners, for Matt it is a renaissance of Britain’s design scene.

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“Growing up in Devon, the Barbican is synonymous with what an urban ecosystem looks like. Where sharp and soft are integrated. With the Barbican’s jagged setting as the backdrop for the organic curves and contours of blue skies, a water reserve - be it man-made - and the plants so lovingly raised by its residents.”
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The Barbican Centre is a perfect representation of the optimistic aspirations of the brutalist movement, and is the foundation of the modernist era that came a little later. A true symbolisation of the allure of a city, its humbling heights and explorative urban forests has been an evocative muse for Matt’s method to beautiful thinking.

Matthew Gilpin – Creative Lead Free The Birds