In Focus: Interview with Matthew McCormick, Designer of Matthew McCormick Studio, Canada

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Matthew McCormick

Matthew McCormick Studio was founded in 2013 by Matthew McCormick, the studio designs, manufactures and retails McCormick’s own lighting collections.

Interview with the 2019 Muse Design Awards Winner - Matthew McCormick

1Please give us a brief bio of yourself, your company, job profile, etc.
I grew up in Toronto, Ontario and graduated from Ryerson University with a degree in Technology, Marketing and Entrepreneurship in 2003. After graduation, I moved to Vancouver to pursue a career in advertising and design, landing a role as Creative Director for a big brand.

I established Matthew McCormick Studio, a contemporary design company based in Vancouver, BC in 2013 with an early emphasis on developing bespoke lighting installations. However, my career as a designer truly launched in 2014 with our popular Halo chandelier, produced for an Italian Prosecco company. In 2015, I launched my first international collection in Milan at the iconic Spazio Rossana Orlandi Gallery and look forward launching my largest design-art exhibit to date at the V&A Museum in London this September 2019.

Today, I continue to hone a belief in infusing passion into every project. It has been a driving force in amassing a large body of work in a short time, which can be found across North America and abroad. From simple, stand-alone fixtures to large-scale illuminated art installations, my work can now be found across America, Europe, Asia and Australia.
2Tell us a bit about your business and what you do.
By working in partnership with designers and architects, Matthew McCormick Studio creates lighting products and installations as unique as the spaces where they reside. With the ability to take a simple idea and shape it into a compelling composition, we are guided by a process that balances exploration and restraint—bringing a seemingly complex product back to its simplest form.

We currently offer a range of high-end, luxury lighting products as part of our standard line, in addition to a select number of bespoke, design-art installations specially curated for exhibits around the world.
3Congratulations! As the winner of the 2019 Muse Awards, what does it mean to you and your company and team to receive this award distinction?
We love the fact that we share the honour of this award with so many talented designers from around the world. It makes us very proud.
4Can you explain a bit about the winning work you entered into the 2019 Muse Awards, and why you chose to enter this project?
I created the Mila pendant as a study of balance between two pure and simple volumes. While the fixture is minimal in its elements, it is designed to produce a light effect replicating the soft reflection of an organic pearl. As such, the centre of the fixture is a hand-blown, warm-toned glass sphere, elegantly balanced at the base of an oval metal frame. Each sculptural pendant cascades at varied lengths, casting a soft, ambient glow.

I chose Mila because it epitomizes my design philosophy. Because I am always striving for less “gear” and visual distraction on our final product, we are often refining the details to a level where we have to create new, customized componentry using processes that aren’t available in the commercial market. In Mila, this makes for a truly one-of-a-kind piece.
5What was the biggest challenge with this project?
The biggest challenge in the Mila design was to hone the production process for the desired end result. We used both the tradition of hands-on craftsmanship - metal finishing and hand- blown glass - and married it with state-of-the-art technology like CNC machining, laser cutting, Solidworks and LEDs.

As a true study of reductionism, the two main design components of Mila are manually ‘tailored’ into a perfect equilibrium, with the goal of achieving an architectural purity to their surrounding environment. It was important to machine it to perfection, thus housing its technology in a way that is sleek and invisible.
6How has winning an Award developed your practice/career?
Design awards are important on many levels: they act as a pinnacle of excellence for a designer, help guide consumers to make more informed purchase decisions, and perhaps most importantly - inspire the next generation of designers.

I also believe that design awards can bring a different level of validation to a designer, outside of just selling a product. Our work is judged by those I consider to be best-in-class, bringing a wide breadth of knowledge and unparalleled leadership in the industry.
7What are your top three (3) favorite things about our industry?
1. An international community: Doing what I do has helped shrink the world for me in a way that I could not have done any other way. It’s allowed me to establish an international network of like-minded “colleagues” so to speak, and collaboration within this community means we can grow and diversify our aesthetic by working together. It has also helped connect me to those who are, quite literally, the best in the world at their craft – the skilled artisanship you can find across the globe is quite phenomenal.

2. Inspiration through travel: My role in this industry has afforded me the ability to travel, absorbing styles and aesthetics that aren’t necessarily my instant “go-to” but it’s what I deem necessary to continue to be inspired and grow as a designer. I’ve developed a new appreciation for a delicate balance of old world charm (which is hard to find in my home land of Canada), and a new world of opportunity through the advancement in design technology based on what I have accrued during my recent travels.

3. Global acceptance: It’s one thing to be accepted as a “design leader” in your own backyard, but it’s another to be recognized and appreciated on a world stage. I am forever indebted to those who have supported me along the way.
8What makes your country specifically, unique in the creative industry?
Being a Canadian who lives on the pacific west coast, we’re privileged to be surrounded by open spaces, natural light and landscapes - all of which have a clear impact on our work.

We’re often inspired by the nature that surrounds us and it can bring balance in both our lives and livelihood. As such, Canadian craftsmanship shares a combination of playful optimism, mindfulness, and of course a respect for nature’s fragile balance. In Canada, we are known for being environmentally conscious and you’ll often see this mentality reflected in our craft when it comes to the lifecycle of our products and the material we choose to use.
9Where do you see the evolution of creative industry going over the next 5-10 years?
We live in a world of abundance where consumption is always available and highly promoted. The resulting saturation means that a product which will endure the test of time needs to be considered beyond just an aesthetic and rather for attributes like quality, adaptability and long-term durability.

Over the last decade, the production side of design has seen very little innovation. We need to focus on making production more responsible by using technology to maximize efficiencies, and to shift our values from simply how to sell a product to how to responsibly make a product with an lasting lifespan.
10If you were a student entering this industry or an aspiring Muse Award submitter, what advice would you give them?
When I was first starting in this industry, a lighting expert once told me to “never go into the lighting business” because it was too hard and complicated to make a successful career out of it. Well, for anyone that knows me, this is the wrong thing to say because I know that when something is easy, everyone would be doing it. Hearing negativity can often inspire me to work harder and make it work. So, my advice is to never be discouraged when you are working on a project or goal that fuels your soul. You will eventually find your way.
11What resources would you recommend to someone who wants to improve their skills in the creative industry?
It’s important to be a perpetual student. My recommendation is to meet with as many people who are doing the job or career you want to be doing, and learn as much as you can from them. Play with material and get your hands dirty, but don’t forget that if you truly want to build a business with longevity, you have to build a strong and mighty business acumen as well. All this to say, do it all with your head and heart in the right place. Surround yourself with supportive people, develop your passion, and keep pushing until you get there.
12Tell us something you have never told anyone else.
All of my lighting products come with a significant backstory that either ties to a specific event or person in my life.
13Who has inspired you in your life and why?
One of my earliest and lifelong influencers has always been Ingo Maurer - not so much for his design, but more for his overall approach. He is a true inspiration and reason why I first pursued a career in lighting. I always reference the time when I stumbled across one of Ingo’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. I’m thrilled to say that I now own the last Mozzkito lamp ever in production, signed by the man himself.

Ingo’s understanding and perspective of light and shadows will always stick with me. I can only hope to shake his hand one day.
14What is your key to success? Any parting words of wisdom?
It’s important to always work hard, stay positive and surround yourself with people you enjoy working with because you’re going to be spending a lot of time with them. Above all, be a good person - sometimes you have to learn things the hard way but know that learning is an important part of the journey to success. Also remember that there will be naysayers, but they’re in the stands and you’re on the field. So be conscious of who you bring in to your fold; the best teammates are those who can elevate and challenge you a regular basis.
15Do you have anything else you would like to add to the interview?
The key to a successful career is to walk around with a curious and open mind, leaving enough space for new inspiration, relationships and insights. With the right combination of these things, it becomes easier to recognize that anything you dream can be done. The possibilities in our industry are endless!

Winning Entries

MILA | 2019

Mila | Muse Awards
“I created Mila as a study of balance between two pure and simple volumes”. The simple yet expressive form of MILA is minimal in its elements, and designed to produce a light effect replicating the soft reflection of organic pearls... (read more)

Matthew McCormick Studio

Matthew McCormick Studio is a multi-disciplinary design studio based in Vancouver, Canada that produces high-end lighting products and artistic installations, distributed around the world. Founded in 2013 by Matthew McCormick, the Studio designs, manufactures and retails McCormick’s own lighting collections. In addition to creating bespoke, sculptural work, all of McCormick’s products are made in Canada by a network of young manufacturers and craftspeople.