This week long term COMMUNE member, and designer extraordinaire Matt Woods, was featured in the latest edition of Mezzanine magazine, as one of the 20 under 40 groundbreaking creatives in Australia! We stole a few moments from his busy schedule to ask about his processes and upcoming projects.
Congrats on being named one of Mezzanines top 20 under 40! They’ve described you as 'the disruptor of the Sydney hospitality scene', what are your key considerations when taking on a new projects to make them stand out?
It’s definitely an honour, so thank you! Yeah, I for one enjoyed that description, as one of my main concerns as a designer is ensuring that all my designs are unique. Ultimately I consider every project on it’s individual merit. This starts with judging what can be done within an individual sites footprint & noticing any inherent architectural value in an existing space. Then looking at what it is a client wants to achieve, how long they have to achieve it, and their budget expectations. I’m also committed to taking on projects with clients I believe I have a good rapport with, as my intention is always going to be to test some boundaries, so I look for clients who I believe are open to something out of the ordinary.
The feature also touches on sustainability as a core driver of your work. What measures do you take to ensure your work is sustainable, and how have you seen the industry evolve to adapt to sustainable practices?
The building industry is by far one of the most wasteful, so ensuring I instilled sustainable principles from the outset was an imperative. As such I consider all projects from a holistic perspective and implement, de materialisation, I only use recycled or FSC certified timbers, use recycled and natural products wherever possible, I do not specify any plastics, all my paint finishes are VOC free, all my lighting is energy efficient or LED, and I asses all materials for their embodied energy and water content. The design industry is sort of there, and while there has definitely been an evolution in recent years, I still think we have a little time before sustainable design is regarded as the norm, rather than as I say in Mezzanine “a fringe methodology”.
How long have you been working out of COMMUNE and how has it impacted your process?
I guess you could say I was one of the original founding members as when I moved in only a couple of weeks after it was launched... I did however go AWOL a couple of years back as I moved out of the inner west, but I gravitated back about 12 months ago, as I found that there wasn’t really any other co-working spaces that tick the boxes that COMMUNE did. When I first moved in to COMMUNE, it was simply a relief to get out of the home office and be around like minded people. Even from a purely productivity perspective I find that I’m much keener to get in and bang out my work, in order to get my “free time".
Last week you were carrying around a huge bucket of glitter which I had my eye on for Mardi Gras, and now there are trails of sparkles around your desk, what were you working on?
Haha sorry about that… I promise to clean it up! Yeah, it was for an exhibition I was asked to partake in called “26 Original Fakes” which is a part of Melbourne Design Week, put on by the National Gallery of Victoria. Basically the exhibition is a commentary on the replica furniture industry and what it represents to the individual 26 exhibitor. My commentary was a simple one, and revolved around the well know idiom “You can’t polish a turd, but you can roll it in glitter”… Philosophical... I know…
What are some of your upcoming projects?
I’m currently designing a small rooftop bar above the Quarrymans Hotel in Pyrmont, a restaurant for the Bloodwood kids up in Bellingen called Popla, and a first floor extension to a house in Enmore. I’m also working on a range of cafe furniture which is in the prototype stage and my intent is to ultimately have a Matt Woods Designed venue 100% designed by me.
How can we get our hands on a copy of Mezzanine?
The new issue comes out mid March and you should be able to pick it up at most news agencies. You can also get digital copies too, so should only take a couple of clicks to locate one!