Interview With Matthew Arquette from M + Designs

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Matthew Arquette

With over 20 years of experience, Matthew Arquette’s love for design has only gotten stronger and has prompted him to push the boundaries of his artistic vision for the better!

Interview With The 2023 NY Product Design Awards Winner – Matthew Arquette

1Please give us a brief bio of yourself and your background.

For me, furniture design is an inexhaustible passion that has been a source of constant inspiration and fulfilment for decades. Since completing my studies and earning my Bachelor of Arts in Furniture Design, I have been fortunate enough to enjoy a successful and enriching career for more than 20 years.

Through all the ups and downs of that journey, my love for design has only grown stronger, and I have learned to push the boundaries of my artistic vision. I feel truly blessed to have been given the opportunity to work on a variety of extraordinary projects and collaborate with so many gifted and inspiring individuals along the way.

Today, I find myself in a place where I can choose to take part in a wide range of exciting projects and explore new creative possibilities. I am truly excited to see where my passion for furniture design will take me in the future, and I am eager to continue contributing to the vibrant and dynamic world of design.

2What made you become/why did you choose to become a product designer?

As a conscientious member of society and a mindful consumer, I've always been committed to improving myself and the world around me. My guiding principle has always been to approach life with a mindset of constant learning, observation, experimentation, and contribution. This has driven me to explore and discover the intricacies and marvels of our world, and as I continue to draw inspiration from them, I'm always eager to learn more.

However, I believe that with innovation comes responsibility, and it's imperative to explore environmentally sustainable alternatives within the furniture design industry. By harnessing the potential of green materials and utilizing ecological techniques, I'm driven to challenge the status quo, pushing the limits of existing practices and exploring new possibilities. This is the essence of my vision for furniture design, and it's what makes me excited to create every day.

3Tell us more about your business/company, job profile, and what you do.

Throughout my 20 years in furniture design, working with a diverse range of clients and managing their varying requirements has been an experience that has challenged and honed my creative skills. Every project has presented its own set of unique obstacles, which allowed me to explore new creative approaches and expand my expertise.

Beyond just creating beautiful furniture, my ultimate objective has always been to influence the future of design, pushing the boundaries and redefining what's possible. It's an ambitious goal, but one that I'm passionate about and one that drives me towards exploring new avenues of creativity and design. With every project, I'm energized by the opportunity to make a meaningful contribution not only to the world of furniture but to the wider creative ecosystem.

4What does “design” mean to you?
For me, design is a journey of exploration, where every project is an opportunity to experiment with new ideas and find the perfect balance between functionality and style. It's the process of taking a concept and bringing it to life through creativity and innovation. Design is not just about creating products and services but about enhancing the human experience and adding value to life.
5What’s your favorite kind of design and why?

I am passionate about environmental design, a specialised field that is aimed at improving the quality of both natural and constructed environments. This hybrid approach combines aspects of architecture and landscaping in an effort to shape the surrounding environment into something that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing. I take great satisfaction in being able to think outside the box and come up with innovative solutions to everyday problems, all while keeping our planet healthy and vibrant.

As an alternative, I also enjoy exploring alternative modern design, which gives me the opportunity to blend traditional and contemporary styles, incorporating a range of textures, patterns, and bold colors. My overarching goal is to use my creativity to effect positive change in my community and leave a lasting legacy.

6To you, what makes a “good” design?

In my opinion, a good design is one that possesses three core traits: functionality, timeless aesthetics, and adaptability. It should be able to solve a problem, whether it’s practical or environmental, while still possessing a timeless quality that allows it to remain relevant over time.

Additionally, it ought to be designed in a way that inspires emotion and tells a story. After all, good design is not just about aesthetics, but it's also about the feelings and memories it evokes in people. Finally, a good design should not only be appreciated by the end-user but should also be fulfilling and rewarding for the designer. In essence, a good design brings together practicality, emotion, and fulfilment for all involved.

7Describe your design style and its main characteristics.

I would describe my design style as a modernist approach with a touch of personality and warmth. I prioritize clean and simple shapes and lines, but I like to add a personal touch to my designs as well. I believe that function is key, but that doesn't mean it can't be elegant and visually appealing. I aim to create spaces that look inviting while still being practical and comfortable.

I often use a mixture of light and dark colours, and I enjoy playing with textures and patterns to create balance and interest. I also prioritise sustainability and energy efficiency in my designs. I constantly strive for innovation, looking for ways to improve the durability and environmental impact of my work. Overall, my design philosophy is centered on creating spaces that are both beautiful and liveable, with a focus on the needs and values of my clients and the world around us.

8Tell us about your design process.

My design process is rooted in thorough investigation and a deep understanding of the objectives and aspirations. I start with research and analysis to uncover any potential challenges and opportunities. Then, I like to ideate and explore a range of design concepts before narrowing them down to a few promising options.

While I consider regulations and relevant environmental factors, I remain focused on the end goal: creating a functional and aesthetically pleasing solution that serves goal. Throughout the process, I collaborate to ensure vision is fully realised. For me, bringing a design to life involves carefully balancing colour, texture, and form, ultimately creating a cohesive whole. I diligently fine-tune and improve my concepts until the finished product reflects my objectives, leaving nothing to chance.

9Do you think your country and its cultural heritage has an impact on your design process?

My design process is heavily influenced by my cultural heritage and my country of origin. I grew up in a region with a rich history and cultural tradition, which has deeply influenced my aesthetic choices and design philosophy. I believe that cultural context plays an essential role in design, and it has taught me the importance of respecting and valuing cultural diversity.

My country’s heritage has also shaped my design approach, as I’ve come to appreciate the value of using resources wisely and sustainably. For instance, I always consider the environmental impact of my designs and prioritize energy efficiency and sustainably-sourced materials.

Overall, my country’s cultural heritage has instilled in me a deep sense of respect for the past while also fostering creativity and innovation. In my work, I look to strike a balance between traditional and modern elements, creating designs that are both timeless and grounded in cultural context but also fresh and creative.

10Congratulations! As the winner of the 2023 NY Product Design Awards, what does it mean to you and your company and team to receive this award distinction?

Winning the 2023 NY Product Design Awards is a proud moment for me. It's an affirmation of my commitment to designing innovative and functional products that meet the needs of our society. I strive to create designs that are not only aesthetically pleasing but also sustainable and forward-thinking. The award gives me the motivation to continue to drive creativity to new heights and sets the bar high for the quality of work I deliver.

Moreover, this award is a reflection of my hard work and dedication to ensuring that my designs are of the highest caliber and fit to inspire both the creative community and the platforms we share. This recognition is a badge of honor for me, and I feel motivated every day to continue producing designs that push the boundaries and create positive impacts in the world.

11Can you explain a bit about the winning work you entered into the 2023 NY Product Design Awards, and why you chose to enter this project?

Certainly! The winning project that I entered into the 2023 NY Product Design Awards is the J-Tallic sofa. It's a modern and luxurious design that features a metallic outer shell with gradient detailed textile options. The inner back upholstery is fastened with textured cord to create a unique detailing effect that adds depth and texture to the sofa's design. What sets this project apart is its emphasis on creating a new classic style, blending contemporary aesthetics with traditional elements, while also pushing the boundaries of material innovation.

I chose to submit this project to the NY Product Design Awards because it showcases my commitment to innovation and creativity. The J-Tallic sofa is a unique design that highlights the approach to combining modern and traditional elements. It is a product that challenges the status quo and pushes the envelope in material innovation. I also believed that the project's aesthetic was a strong fit for the award's criteria, emphasising excellence in design and utility. Winning the award signifies not only commitment to original and innovative designs, but it also serves as an affirmation of creative intrigue, expertise and technical ability to execute such designs.

12What was the biggest challenge with this project?

The biggest challenge with this project was balancing the use of metallic materials with the gradient textile options. I needed to ensure that both elements worked together seamlessly to create a cohesive design. Additionally, the use of textured cords to fasten the inner back upholstery in place required careful consideration to ensure it did not compromise the comfort and structural integrity of the sofa.

Lastly, we had to ensure that the final product met with high standards for quality and durability, given the novelty of the metallic outer shell. However, with effort and attention to detail, I feel these challenges have helped to create a stunning and unique product design.

13How has winning an award developed your practice/career?

Winning an award creates a ripple effect that positively impacts several aspects of my practice and career. Firstly, it provides recognition of the hard work and dedication that I put into my designs, not only validating the effort put towards the winning project but also establishing credibility for my future work.

The positive exposure from the award also helps increase the exposure of my brand in the design industry, expanding my clientele base and creating new opportunities for professional growth. Additionally, receiving an award distinguishes my work from competitors, setting me apart as a leading designer in my field. This credential increases the perceived value of my services, creating a sense of trust with clients who see my work as a reflection of quality.

Most importantly, winning awards has not only helped raise my personal and professional profile but has also pushed me to continuously innovate and improve my design practice while driving me to create more inspiring work in the future.

14What are your top three (3) favorite things about our industry?

As a furniture designer, I have a deep appreciation for the artistry and creativity that goes into designing and creating the perfect piece that balances form and function. The challenge of discovering the perfect (ingredients) materials, textures, and colors, ignites my passion for experimenting with a wide array of design possibilities. I cherish the opportunity to collaborate with clients and create custom pieces that reflect their personal aesthetics and style.

In addition, I take great pride in creating eco-friendly and sustainable furniture that contributes to environmental preservation and protection. By selecting sustainable materials, minimizing waste and emissions, and reducing the carbon footprint of our manufacturing processes, I can make a positive impact on our environment. This philosophy is integral to my practice and drives me to continually enhance my knowledge in sustainable design by practicing a stringent approach implementing the adherence to green design principles.

At the core of my profession, I aspire to create furniture that transcends the very definition of aesthetics and functionality, combining sheer artistry with practical functionality. It is a source of pride to be part of the larger furniture community in our pursuit of promoting beauty, functionality, and environmental consciousness.

15What makes your country specifically, unique in the design industry?

As a furniture designer hailing from the United Kingdom, my creative process is infused with diverse cultural influences that reflect the country's rich history of craftsmanship. The traditional English styles and modern practices, embodied in the cultural heritage of my homeland, serve as a foundation for much of my work. At the same time, I aim to incorporate contemporary and innovative elements, creating pieces that blend the traditional with the new to convey a timeless quality.

Beyond my personal aesthetic, I am committed to sustainability and the environment. Sustainability is at the forefront of the United Kingdom design industry, and I believe it is our responsibility to create eco-friendly and sustainable furniture designs. I take pride in using recycled materials and adopting energy-efficient processes to reduce the environmental impact of my designs without compromising on the aesthetic.

The United Kingdom is renowned for its diverse design styles, from classic English craftsmanship to sleek and modern designs. This diversity allows me to experiment and push the boundaries of furniture design, creating pieces that are both innovative and culturally meaningful. As a designer from the United Kingdom, I am inspired by the country's rich cultural heritage, its commitment to sustainability and the environment, and the endless possibilities for creativity in furniture design.

16Where do you see the evolution of design industry going over the next 5-10 years?

As a furniture designer from the United Kingdom, I pride myself on my ability to infuse my design process with a wealth of cultural influences. Drawing upon the United Kingdom's rich history of craftsmanship and design, my creative process oscillates between incorporating traditional English styles and avant-garde elements of modern designs. My dual approach aims to create innovative pieces that respectfully honor, celebrate and reflect upon my country's cultural background.

I also take great pride in my sustainability practices. The United Kingdom’s design industry remains at the forefront of sustainability, embracing new and eco-friendly techniques and authentic materials that reduce the environmental impact of our products. As a designer, I leverage green principles and incorporate them into my work, using environmentally responsible materials and minimizing waste.

Furthermore, the diversity of the United Kingdom's design industry empowers me to create exceptional works inspired by a broad variety of styles. From classic English designs to sleek and modern pieces, I navigate the spectrum of design genres, experimenting with new materials and techniques to create unparalleled works that are both innovative and rooted in my cultural identity.

Looking ahead, I remain committed to drawing inspiration from the United Kingdom's cultural heritage, embrace sustainable design practices, and exploring new genres of design to continue creating high-quality, unique works.

17If you were a student entering this industry or an aspiring NY Product Design Awards submitter, what advice would you give them?

If you’re an emerging design talent or a young designer submitting your works to the NY Product Design Awards, here is what I would like to share with you:

To thrive in the design industry, staying truthful to your style of design must be your primary goal. Finding your unique voice and developing a process that embodies your creative vision is your road to success. In addition, it’s important to stay vigilant about current industry trends and novel technologies that can enhance your craft efficiency. Continuous education in the field of your interest is paramount to securing large-scale projects and placements in top-tier companies.

Researching the body of work of renowned designers can provide great inspiration to further develop your own perspective and ideas. This analysis helps broaden your horizons, as it's the collective experience that helps produce exceptional work.

Finally, building a strong network of mentors, peers and industry professionals can provide you with meaningful connections and endless opportunities. Great teammates can provide invaluable guidance, help you improve your craft and lead you to new and exciting ventures.

In conclusion, staying true to your style and being prepared to harness new trends and opportunities while continuing to develop and improve creative approaches are the key elements of a thriving career in design.

18What resources would you recommend to someone who wants to improve their skills in the design industry?

To thrive in the design industry, one must continuously challenge oneself to improve and learn new skills.

Keeping up-to-date with the emerging trends and avant-garde technologies is crucial in staying ahead in the industry. Hence, I recommend reading industry publications such as online resources, blogs, and magazines. These resources will inform you about the latest developments in the field.

Professional networking is equally important in the world of design. Attending design conferences and industry events is an excellent way to meet other creative professionals, forge new partnerships and tap into a wealth of collective experience. Workshops, seminars, and additional education opportunities can provide guidance from more experienced professionals on how to hone your skills and explore novel ideas.

Mentorships and apprenticeships are another way to enhance skills. The privilege of learning from a professional mentor can expose you to immense industry knowledge, enhancing your understanding of design principles, build your practical experience, and perfect your techniques.

It’s equally essential to embrace new ideas and technologies to remain relevant and inspire creativity. Striving for innovation and experimenting with unfamiliar techniques can help you achieve more significant breakthroughs and acquire exceptional skills, making you a master of your craft.

In conclusion, staying ahead in the design industry requires a mix of innovative ideas, adopting novel methodologies, and staying up-to-date with the latest developments. By keeping an open mind and investing in continuous professional development, you can position yourself as a leader in the industry.

19Tell us something you have never told anyone else.

I am very particular about the use of coat hangers; it's almost like a compulsion for me. I tend to obsess over their size and consistency in use. I prefer to have all my hangers of the same size, shape, and type, as it helps me maintain a sense of orderliness and tidiness in my closet. The uniformity in the arrangement of my clothes gives me a sense of calm and control.

I often find myself rearranging them to ensure they are placed in a perfect sequence. Though I acknowledge that this is a rather trivial matter to concern oneself with, it is just one of the manifestations of my personality trait that I have learned to accept and manage over time.

20Who has inspired you in your life and why?

I have been fortunate to have a mother who has been more than a parent; she has been a mentor, guide, and a friend. She has been my rock through thick and thin and has always stood by me through every achievement and failure, providing words of wisdom and encouragement.

Her lessons on the significance of hard work and determination have been instrumental in shaping my character, and I attribute my success to her unwavering support. The kindness and empathy she displays toward others have been a source of inspiration for me, and I strive to emulate her in every interaction.

Her selflessness and unconditional love have taught me the true meaning of familial bonds and the importance of giving back to society. I am grateful for having her as my mother, and I will continue to cherish the invaluable lessons she has imparted to me throughout my life.

21What is your key to success? Any parting words of wisdom?

My key to any success anywhere is simply hard work and dedication. Life is full of challenges, and it is easy to give up when things get tough. However, I believe that if you stay focused on your goals and put in the necessary effort, you will eventually reach your desired outcomes.

Additionally, it is important to remain open-minded and adapt to changing circumstances. It is not always easy to do, but being flexible and willing to learn can open up new opportunities that you may not have known existed.

Finally, it is essential to never forget the power of optimism and the importance of having a positive attitude. Life is too short to be stressed down by negativity and doubt, so no matter what challenges come your way, remain confident in yourself and your abilities. With a little hard work, dedication, and a positive outlook, anything can be achieved.

22Do you have anything else you would like to add to the interview?

I am incredibly grateful to the NY Product Design Awards for their unwavering support of the creative industry and their role in inspiring innovation among designers. Their commitment to acknowledging and celebrating exceptional product design has been instrumental in elevating new and established designers alike, providing a solid platform to showcase their work and gain recognition.

The New York Product Design Awards has been a driving force behind promoting excellence in design, and I am honored to have benefited from the fantastic opportunities and resources they offer. Thank you for your continued support of the creative community and for fueling our passion and drive to push boundaries and achieve new heights.

Winning Entry

J -Tallic | 2023

J - Tallic a New Classic Style Sofa featuring metallic outer shell and gradient detailed textile options - inside…
(Read more at NY Product Design Awards)

Matthew Arquette

With over 20 years of experience, Matthew Arquette’s love for design has only gotten stronger and has prompted him to push the boundaries of his artistic vision for the better!

Read more about this interview with Barbara Sala from Italy, the Silver Winner of the 2023 NY Product Design Awards.