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About Matt McCormick

Matthew's mind sees the potential in everything around him. Inspired by shape and form, intrigued about composition and considerate of the impact of design, each of his creations is an expression of well informed vision and a finely tuned technical understanding of engineering and manufacturing. He believes in infusing passion into projects and by working collaboratively with designers and architects, he creates lighting as unique a space itself. From a simple, stand-alone fixture to large-scale illuminated art installations, each piece and project is well considered and consciously created. With the ability to take a simple idea and shape it into a compelling installation, his dedication to curiosity forms his process, material manipulation and conceptualization. As a philosophy, he believes that it’s not the sum of the parts – it’s the intrinsic value of how they’re put together.

Interview with Matt McCormick

Matt McCormick ("MM") interviewed on Friday, 16 March.

Could you please tell us about your experience as a designer, artist, architect or creator?

MM : I have a degree in technology and minor in marketing and entrepreneurship from Ryerson University in Canada. My first job in Vancouver was actually as a Creative Director, and although not related to product design at the time, it helped shape the foundation of my current brand. On a more technical level, it was a great corporate experience that offered me the opportunity to present creative concepts to clients, lead teams and learn how to run a fruitful business. While being in this type of the role was never a long-term vision of mine, the experience at a corporate enterprise was invaluable to who I’ve become today. I founded Matthew McCormick Studio in 2013 and developed bespoke lighting installations. In 2015, launched my first collection internationally.

How did you become a designer?

MM : I started my career as a graphic designer, but after a while couldn't stand being on a computer all day. I wanted to take that graphic creativity and apply it with my own two hands, using new tools and material, but specifically in regard to lighting (a long-time obsession for me). While I never expected to do it as a full-time job, I made a conscious decision to follow the opportunities that continued to present themselves and here I am today - making a living out of lighting design, which started out as just a pastime.When it comes to my biggest inspiration in lighting, I always reference the time when I stumbled across one of Ingo Maurer’s lights for the first time. It was the Mozzkito lamp, made from the most obscure parts that were seemingly items found in the household. When you see the sum of its parts come together and turned on, it was honestly one of the most beautiful creations I’d ever seen. The brilliance of his artistry still sticks with me today.

What are your priorities, technique and style when designing?

MM : I think design is iterative and evolutionary, so I’m constantly sketching and drawing inspiration from every corner of my life. It’s important FOR me to see everything and stay curious. As a trained graphic designer, I tend to find myself drawn to two-dimensional shapes that I then coax into new and unexpected contexts. I don’t follow trends per se, and my way of thinking usually involves pen and paper (or a napkin at a restaurant!) so I always have new ideas I can refer to when it’s time to go to the drawing board.When it comes to my designs, I am obsessed with distilling an idea to its simplest form. My pieces present clean lines that may look simple to achieve, however they usually hide a complicated and very precise construction process. Their beauty is very architectural and relies heavily on geometry, precision and balance.

Which emotions do you feel when designing?

MM : I think design is iterative and evolutionary, so I’m constantly sketching and drawing inspiration from every corner of my life. It’s important FOR me to see everything and stay curious. As a trained graphic designer, I tend to find myself drawn to two-dimensional shapes that I then coax into new and unexpected contexts. I don’t follow trends per se, and my way of thinking usually involves pen and paper (or a napkin at a restaurant!) so I always have new ideas I can refer to when it’s time to go to the drawing board.When it comes to my designs, I am obsessed with distilling an idea to its simplest form. My pieces present clean lines that may look simple to achieve, however they usually hide a complicated and very precise construction process. Their beauty is very architectural and relies heavily on geometry, precision and balance.

What particular aspects of your background shaped you as a designer?

MM : y first job in Vancouver was actually as a Creative Director, and although not related to product design at the time, it helped shape the foundation of my current brand

What is your growth path? What are your future plans? What is your dream design project?

MM : At the moment, while we continue to refine our product line and create new prototypes, it’s important that I have a direct handle on the manufacturing process where I can. I love being in the shop and producing locally affords me the opportunity to do that. As per our plans we will be back in Milan for the second consecutive year at Spazio Rossana Orlandi where we will be presenting our latest pendant, Mila. We also have ambitious plans to expand production and reach many more markets across Europe and exhibit in some exciting new places. In terms of technology, we are incorporating some new advancements in LED along with finalizing some new prototypes, which I am extremely excited about.

What are your advices to designers who are at the beginning of their career?

MM : It is crucial for young designers to learn this quickly, as I did, to protect their ideas as they are what drives the creation of your products and ultimately your brand. In the early days of my business, I ventured into the manufacturing process with some naivety regarding the importance of protecting my designs and intellectual property. This eventually came back to haunt me as one of the first fabricators I used out of Vancouver started claiming that the products I designed belonged to them. Needless to say, a strong Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) has become mandatory in how I do business and I now only do business with partners who work in alignment with my belief system.In the world of design, we know that imitation can be commonplace, especially as notoriety grows. It can also be difficult for small companies and independent designers to legally challenge cases of infringement. As such, my philosophy has somewhat evolved: when you don’t have time to compete with the knockoffs, fine tune who you are selling to and refine the product to where it simply can’t be beat in quality, craftsmanship and marketability

You are truly successful as a designer, what do you suggest to fellow designers, artists and architects?

MM : Simply put, the magic of design are in your ideas.

What is your day to day look like?

MM : I have very early starts. To be honest I’m more of a morning person. I’m typically up before the sun rises, which gains me some extra time to focus on some important tasks before the daily business starts. It can of helps me to feel like I’m won the day, before most people wake up. Conversely, I feel I’m the most creative in the last moments before going to bed. Perhaps because it is when I feel most relaxed and yet my mind still races with inspiration not letting me sleep until I scribble it down on paper,

How do you keep up with latest design trends? To what extent do design trends matter?

MM : I think design is iterative and evolutionary, so I’m constantly sketching and drawing inspiration from every corner of my life. It’s important FOR me to see everything and stay curious. As a trained graphic designer, I tend to find myself drawn to two-dimensional shapes that I then coax into new and unexpected contexts. I don’t follow trends per se, and my way of thinking usually involves pen and paper (or a napkin at a restaurant!) so I always have new ideas I can refer to when it’s time to go to the drawing board.When it comes to my designs, I am obsessed with distilling an idea to its simplest form. My pieces present clean lines that may look simple to achieve, however they usually hide a complicated and very precise construction process. Their beauty is very architectural and relies heavily on geometry, precision and balance.

How do you know if a product or project is well designed? How do you define good design?

MM : When it is easy to perceive its uniqueness and counter-intuitive charm. I personally enjoy exploring the distinction between the functional and aesthetic qualities of objects, and this experimental process is what fundamentally guides the designer to the best pieces.

How do you decide if your design is ready?

MM : It never does. For instance with Halo, although it seems that nothing much has changed since Halo first debuted, we’ve been tirelessly refining the light with the highest standards. We’ve gone through 11 iterations of the housing alone, from removing visible mechanical fasteners, to incorporating a tongue and groove assembly, to engineering all our own proprietary components and experimenting to various finishes. Needless to say, the process isn’t always linear. Ideas are constantly changing and updating, and so I have to make room in my process for this. To achieve the best form, we’ve also been exploring more sculptural permutations of the Halo.

What is your biggest design work?

MM : The one that is yet to come

Who is your favourite designer?

MM : I have lots of designers I admire but Ingo Maurer had a huge influence in my career choice so I'd choose him.

Would you tell us a bit about your lifestyle and culture?

MM : I am originally from Toronto and as an avid snowboarder, moved to Vancouver in 2003 to be closer to the mountains. While it was always meant to be a temporary stint in Whistler, I eventually made my way down to the city and can safely say I’ve planted some roots with my wife and the arrival of our first baby last summer.

Would you tell us more about your work culture and business philosophy?

MM : I’m a huge advocate of collaboration. I wouldn’t be where I am today without having collaborated with brilliant people. My motto is always that two minds are better than one, so I will continuously invite other craftsmen and designers to be part of my creative process. It serves to better inform the final product and make it as best as it can possibly be.

What are your philanthropic contributions to society as a designer, artist and architect?

MM : My company supports different local charities in Vancouver

What positive experiences you had when you attend the A’ Design Award?

MM : This award created a great opportunity for my work to be better known in Europe and internationally. I am very honoured to receive it

Matt McCormick Profile

Halo Pendants Lamp

Halo Pendants Lamp design by Matt McCormick

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