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Interview with Designer Matt Sindall

Matt Sindall started his career as a set designer for the National Theatre in London, and then moved on to work for the BBC as an art director for many successful programs. Today, he designs many different things, including products, interiors, and exhibitions, and has worked with L’Oréal, Renault and Groupe Flo. “A designer lives in his own world, but the role of a designer is to improve upon it,”says Sindall.

Matt Sindall supervised the WantedDesign Design Schools Workshop, part of Oui Design.

Dorothée Charles: What are your different approaches to design? Objects, furniture, scenography, booths for car companies...

Matt Sindall: My approach to design is not linear, I don’t have a specific method.

When it comes to furniture or an object I usually start with a question, for example “Can a chair change color?”, “Can I express or capture movement in a material surface?”,  “What is the essence of a material?”, “How will the viewer perceive, or use the object?”, “Can analogy exist within a use object?” etc.

This leads to a phase where I try and find the most efficient process or material to express these thoughts. Sometimes the form issues from this approach and the functional aspects take a “back seat”.

My objective is that the user has an intuitive reaction to the object or piece of furniture; I invited them to interpret the object in their own manner.

I try to evoke.

With the work with clients I have to respect a brief which requires a rather more pragmatic approach. Most projects usually necessitate juggling with many ingredients to hopefully achieve a fluid whole; scale, circulation, perception from afar to close up, color, juxtaposition of textures and materials, light, structure, transparence, opacity etc. All these elements are articulated in a way to create a user experience which communicate the identity of the client.

My more personal work feeds off this type of work and vice-versa.


DC: How do you approach the materials and in what ways do you experiment?

MS: Materials are very important to me; it is also the tools or processes with which you fashion the surface that contribute to creating the required result.

Whether a five-axe router to machine a multi-ply block to excavate and reveal the essence of wood; or to grind and polish a sheet of polycarbonate to achieve the effect of water ripples, or to sculpt a clay model to be cast in bronze to achieve a rocking lamp which is a counter intuitive use of a normally sedentary material.


DC: You are a teacher at ENSCI-Les Ateliers. What courses do you teach and how what would you say is unique about the school?

MS: I am a one of the design directors of the school and I have taught many varied subjects from designing dams to dealing with the rituals surrounding death.

If one takes the premise that design, in all its forms, can touch and improve many aspects of life. The school offers a broad approach, providing the students with the necessary tools and methods to develop propositions which cover most facets of design. Whether coding and creating apps, working with an industrial partner to improve a product life cycle or research into local, ‘circular’ object manufacture.


DC: Thinking and Making: Exploring Materials with the Notion of Playfulness is the title of the workshop you will lead at wantedDesign Brooklyn with students. How do you conceive of it?

MS: The workshop centers around this theme that ‘playfulness’ can be instilled into an object and can generate a positive affect either through the perception or the use of the object.

I would like the students to understand that a successful object embraces the intellect , the emotion, and the intuitive. I hope that the students can develop propositions which can articulate these factors in a symbiotic manner. Much of the development work will be carried before hand using electronic communication tools between the different schools to allow for the fabrication of the projects once in New York.


DC: What are your forthcoming projects?

MS: I am currently working on the design of a hotel in a defunct McDonnell-Douglas DC8 Jet airliner situated in South Africa.

I have recently created the company SPADE with an associate which concentrates on design solutions and the cultural dimension for space travel; having signed a confidentiality agreement with a major beverage group I cannot, divulge the nature of the project: Salons de Automobile Dacia Geneva and The Mondial Paris 2016, Design of a patented system for eye glasses; Drew and Last UK.; Design of domestic range of lighting and Design of a folded aluminium chair (auto edition)