Camila Rocking Chair for HutJ
We first learned of Matthew Kroeker when we came across his gorgeous Camila Rocking Chair a couple of years ago. When we saw some of his other pieces featured in the '10 Innovative Designers, IDS08' exhibit last year, we were hooked!
Kroeker who earned his education in industrial design at the Ontario College of Art and Design in Toronto, has since seen his experimental and forward-thinking furniture prototypes garner international attention and acclaim at the New York and Milan furniture fairs.
We wanted to learn more about this home-grown, innovative designer who apparently likes to hide out in Winnipeg. He graciously (and not without humour) accepted to answer some of our questions.
Photo: Thomas Fricke
What specific object or experience changed how you think about design?
I remember being so blown away when I came to the realization that products actually had creators. I was baffled by the fact that we are surrounded by hundreds of artifacts in our daily routines yet the authors remained as anonymous as their profession. My fixation became somewhat of a distraction. In art class I was much more interested in sketching something the radiator in the corner than the arrangement of fruit in front of me. I would also study each component trying to grasp how they may have been produced and how I could possibly improve the design.
Does being based out of Winnipeg, Manitoba, influence your work in any way?
Winnipeg is a nice place to hide. Folks in Toronto, Vancouver and other major urban centers don’t know where it is or how to call here so they generally leave me alone. There’s lots of time to reflect in isolation from the rest of the design community which keeps me on my toes. I think any designer could be profoundly affected by the geographical and cultural surroundings of their youth. If you happen to grow up in a flat, frozen, mosquito-infested dump such as Winnipeg your work might look a bit like mine! I do love my city and I don’t think I’ll ever leave.
Who's work do you find exciting?
Patricia Urquiola’s ability to manipulate fabric and pattern into such striking forms never ceases to amaze me. I also appreciate the work of the Bouroullec brothers, Barber Osgerby, Richard Hutten and Tobias Wong to name a few. These are designers that represent thinking and strategies that differ from my own.
Who outside your field inspires you?
Anybody who has a creative vision and pursues it with precision and dedication. I am inspired and impressed by the stories of filmmakers, architects and entrepreneurs who’ve accomplished these huge undertakings. It certainly puts it all into perspective when I’m struggling on a simple chair design.
If you weren’t a designer, what would you do?
I would have ended up in California, working on visual effects and animation sequences for big motion pictures. I’ve always had a keen interest in that industry. In fact, when I was just a young lad I had the choice to pursue a career in film production or industrial design. I think I had this crazy idea that money was involved. I love what I do now but that’s not to say that I don’t look back from time to time. Maybe when I grow up I can do both.
No doubt whatever Kroeker decides to undertake in the future, his talent will help him rise to the challenge. To prove the point, here are more samples of his work:
bristle for HutJ
saw table light for HutJ