Margaret Howell's new film is a tribute to Japanese culture

Affinities – 50 Years of Design marks the 50th anniversary of the Margaret Howell clothing brand

White jug against a grey background
Still from Affinities – 50 Years of Design, directed by Emily Richardson
(Image credit: Margaret Howell)

Margaret Howell continues to mark the 50th anniversary of her eponymous clothing brand with a short film celebrating the fundamental role Japan has played in her life and work.

Affinities – 50 Years of Design is Howell’s second collaboration with filmmaker Emily Richardson, who worked with the designer on identifying the objects and locations which hold a significance for her. The three minute film is to accompany the brand’s anniversary celebrations in Japan this month, postponed from last year due to the pandemic. Encapsulating the clean simplicity of Japanese design and the parallels Howell sees with her own aesthetic, the film ultimately expresses Howell’s love for the country sparked upon her first visit in 1983.

Margaret Howell Affinities – 50 Years of Design film still of twine

Still from Affinities – 50 Years of Design, directed by Emily Richardson

(Image credit: Margaret Howell)

‘The locations in the film are, like the objects, ones that Margaret has a personal connection with,’ says Richardson. ‘Some are photographs that she took on trips to Japan and others are Suffolk landscapes that reflect the quality of the objects chosen.’ The film intersperses locations with personal photographs and significant objects in a tribute to pure design codes.

‘In the process we were thinking about a beauty in the simplicity of their design and a skill in the crafting of these objects, which Margaret felt a great affinity with,’ Richardson adds. ‘In telling this personal history, the only restriction is time. There is always so much more that can be said. But I really enjoy the process of getting to the essence of something which communicates not only part of a personal history but a feeling about the person.’

Watch Margaret Howell's Affinities – 50 Years of Design

The film, along with clothing, drawings and personal memorabilia from the Margaret Howell archive will be on show at T-Site Daikanyama, Tokyo, from 15 – 30 May, and in the ROHM Theatre, Kyoto, from 4 June – 13 June. 

Margaret Howell Affinities – 50 Years of Design film still of wooden box

(Image credit: Margaret Howell)

Margaret Howell Affinities – 50 Years of Design film still of string

(Image credit: Margaret Howell)


Hannah Silver is the Art, Culture, Watches & Jewellery Editor of Wallpaper*. Since joining in 2019, she has overseen offbeat design trends and in-depth profiles, and written extensively across the worlds of culture and luxury. She enjoys meeting artists and designers, viewing exhibitions and conducting interviews on her frequent travels.