Studio J McDonald

20 Commerce Street
Brooklyn, NY 11231
United States


J McDonald is an artist and designer based in Brooklyn, NY. He creates otherworldly furniture and sculpture that illuminate the tensions and dialogues between humans and our environment. Imagining a collision of future and past, society and nature, his work brings a refined minimalism together with an organic and sculptural animism. Working in the space between art and architecture, between sculpture and furniture, his work incorporates ideas around nature, space, tactility, intuition, and the human condition to inspire unique constructions that affect our perception and our experience of the world, ourselves, and the relationship between the two. 


From the cave dwellings of Western China and Eastern Turkey to the termite mounds and adobe structures of the West African sahel, from the suburbs of Philadelphia to the streets of New York City, J is fascinated by the myriad ways that we live with (or apart from) our natural world. The focus of his work is the exploration not only of the interactions between these worlds, but also how those relationships impact our psyche and our behavior. He believes that an object, a home, a chair, has the power to impact and shape our daily existence, challenge our habitualized normalities, and cultivate our mental, physical and spiritual selves towards a better more harmonious world.


Launched in 2019, his eponymous furniture design practice brings together backgrounds in sculpture, architecture, and fabrication. His interests in art and architecture first began to merge during a year spent in West Africa, with a house project in Abetenim, Ghana and a human scale inhabitable termite mound in Bamako, Mali.  Living in and working on earth buildings sparked the realization that there is an essential human nostalgia for these organic, seductive forms containing the essence of the earth and the hand of the maker.  These forms and spaces impact our collective psyche in a markedly different way than the stark rectilinearity of contemporary design.  Through years of studio practice and residencies at places such as Taliesin West, Franconia Sculpture Park, and the McColl Center for Visual Arts, he has continued to explore the encounters between these sometimes discordant, sometimes harmonious approaches.  


As owner of Shape Studio, a design and fabrication company specializing in high end metalwork and architectural elements, J was able to develop his artisanship across a range of materials and techniques while honing his design aesthetic, attention to detail, and understanding of the design and fabrication process.  The sophisticated elegance and overall quality of these projects is an important element to all of his studio’s work, all of which is fabricated by the artist in his studio.


Bringing the conceptual and formal underpinnings of his work as a sculptor together with the dedication to craft and refinement of a fabricator, J McDonald’s unique and small edition pieces of collectible design are at once strange and familiar, sculptural and functional, refined and imaginative.

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