A Defeatist Comment was Once This Designer’s Biggest Driver

Matthew McCormick on staying curious, the best (and worst) advice he’s ever received, and the process behind his work.
Matthew McCormick.
Matthew McCormick.

The second edition of this GRAY’s HOT NEW NEXT competition takes place Tuesday, June 11, at the Salari Fine Carpets in Vancouver. This Shark Tank-style live event offers contestants the chance to present a rapid-fire pitch of a new design-related concept or product to an expert panel of industry veterans, who will select a winner in a final round in September during the Interior Design Show (IDS) Vancouver.

Leading up to the big night, we’re checking in with each of our judges to learn more about their work, background, and what makes them tick. Recently, we caught up with Matthew McCormick, 2017 GRAY Award finalist. He’s also the founder of Matthew McCormick Studio, a Vancouver-based multi-disciplinary design studio that specializes in lighting design and installations.

RSVP to HOT NEW NEXT Vancouver here.

What’s your process for beginning a new design?

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  find myself drawn to two-dimensional shapes that I then coax into new and unexpected contexts. I don’t really follow trends per se. I always have a fresh set of ideas whenever I go back to the drawing board.

 

Which of your creations or projects best represents you and why?

Although inspiration is captured externally through a product’s design, it is also experienced internally by the designer in their process. For that reason, I’d argue that every piece has a little bit of me in it whether I am conscious of it or not. As an example, the design of the Mila pendant started prior to my daughter being born, However, there was something about how the glass sphere was cradled in a soft, geometric frame that later resembled how my wife held her expectant belly. When we were ready to launch the Mila pendant as a product, I ended up naming it after my daughter as a recollection of this experience.

 

If you weren’t in the design field, what would you do?

I don’t think I’d be able to breathe without being creative, however, creativity can take many forms. If I wasn’t engrossed in either industrial or graphic design as a career, I would probably be immersed in photography, cinematography, or something along those lines. Funny enough, I even consider snowboarding as a creative outlet to self-expression. (It is also the reason I moved to Vancouver—to be closer to the mountains.)

 

What’s the best, and the worst, advice you’ve ever received?

Best advice: While I can’t recall where this advice came from, it was something along the lines of, “You’re only as interesting as you are interested.” I am still inspired by this idea and have so much respect for an artist who throws themselves into their work, regardless of the outlet or audience opinion. When someone can find their voice and really go for an aesthetic that speaks to it, it’s the most courageous place to create—and often the most successful.

Worst advice: In my early days, when starting a lighting company was just a twinkle in my eye, I was told by someone who had already dabbled in the industry to avoid it. He said it was too hard, too expensive, and too technical to make a living. If anyone knows me, that’s the wrong thing to say because if it were easy, everyone would be doing it. Hearing a defeatist comment about something I’m passionate about is often my driving force and the perfect motivator to dive in.

 

What are you looking forward to most about being an HNN judge?

It’s not lost on me that I have been on the receiving end of [design competitions].  Needless to say, I am honored to be sitting on the other side. I’m looking forward to giving some time back to support the up-and-comers out there and take some inspiration from their work.

Five Questions For is GRAY’s candid Q&A session with design industry luminaries that delves into all things personal, professional, and occasionally humorous.



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