Tree Villa by Matter Architects
Photographed by Simon Devitt

Could you please tell us about your background, and the journey to starting your own practice?
I was close to my grandfather whom was a builder based in a place called sevenoaks in Kent. He planted the seed of becoming an architect, after which I wanted to be one since around the age of 8, and went with it. My brain works well spatially and I am usually off in my head somewhere imagining the 'what ifs'. After working in several practices in NZ I formed my own... I thought by completing a renno project for ourselves the clients would roll in... after scraping by completing many garage alterations I realise now that my naivety was extensive... that was around 20 years ago, this time in the industry has allowed us to build up trust and a project portfolio that we are proud of.

How would you describe your studio’s approach to architecture?
People and context driven. Through the design process we collaborate toward an outcome that we love to see come into focus. We endeavour to enjoy the process whatever the challenges, injecting as much imagination as possible.

Has the Covid 19 pandemic changed your perception of design, and do you think it will impact what you design in the future?
Perhaps it's made things clearer in some ways, allowing people to make decisions that were previously left to the future. For me personally it has emphasised the importance of certain aspects in life and the balance, in turn this provides me with a more rounded design narrative in my approach.

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We endeavour to enjoy the process whatever the challenges, injecting as much imagination as possible.
Jon Smith / Director of Matter Architects
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Your homes have a strong emphasis on indoor-outdoor living. Why is this important now, more than ever before?
The importance of nature comes into focus immediately in lockdown times, almost as if the level of restriction is inversely proportional to the need to be outside. For some of us it seems we can become entangled in our own lives without appreciating the simple things, repetition and comfort contributing to this. Connecting to the outdoors is a grounding dynamic design tool, one that we love to engage and play with. Watching a child go from screen time to the outdoors emphasises the importance of this connection.

What are you most proud of professionally? Do you have a favourite project so far?
Building a fantastic team that loves what we do. We have a huge amount of gratitude for all our projects that make it to completion, realising the incredible effort involved from our clients & entire project team. There are many aspects of each completed project that we enjoy, making it challenging to identify one in particular. 

What are some of your main sources of inspiration or references you are regularly drawn to?
Nature, people, interactions, movies, art, family, music. 

Birch Park by Matter Architects
Photographed by Jackie Meiring

Green Walls & Gables by Matter Architects
Photographed by Simon Devitt

Connecting to the outdoors is a grounding dynamic design tool, one that we love to engage and play with.
Jon Smith / Director of Matter Architects

Birch Park by Matter Architects
Photographed by Simon Devitt

What do you find most challenging and rewarding about designing residential projects?
Bureaucratic systems are the most challenging. Working with people to create a home is very rewarding.

If you hadn't devoted your career to architecture, what else would you be doing? 
A tortured artist living off coffee and writing movie reviews for anyone who listened. Before social media zombified the masses I wrote and illustrated a little mag called 'micro pulp' it was for my friends and featured movie reviews, interviews, and stories... it wasn't very good...

We’re always fascinated by where and how architects live; can you describe your own home?
A small villa with a 90's renno. It has its idiosyncrasies such as drainage that doesn't work, zigzag walls, checkered floors, etc. Which makes me constantly think of what could be...

And finally, what are your top 5 picks at Good Form right now? 
Hans Bolling Duckling
N-CT01 Coffee Table
Be My Guest Dining Table
Ovum Pendant
IO Large Coffee Table

A big thank you to Jon for sharing your insights into your practice.
View more work from Matter Architects at matterarchitects.co.nz and Instagram.

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