Kristine Matthews Studio Matthews Seattle USA – I Used to Be a Design Student

SEATTLE, USA

Kristine Matthews (Studio Matthews)

PROFESSIONAL YEARS

22

A VALUABLE QUALITY FOR A DESIGN STUDENT + A DESIGN PROFESSIONAL

Willingness to work hard and at the same time take risks + Ability to read people well

FAVOURITE FOOD NOW

Pasta

YOUR MOST VALUED POSSESSION NOW

My children Finn and Nell

YEAR OF PROJECT

2010

PROFESSIONAL PROJECT BRIEF

The SCIDpda (Seattle Chinatown International District Preservation & Development Authority) wanted to create a resource centre for the neighbourhood, which includes Chinese, Japanese and Korean communities. It would become the go-to spot for business owners and residents to find out about local programmes and resources. In line with SCIDpda’s mission, it would work to improve the local neighbourhood and build cross-cultural communities. 

CLIENT

SCIDpda

COLLABORATOR(S)

Cassie Klingler, designer at Studio Matthews. And the client Joyce Pisnanont was great in collecting lots of responses from the local community for the ‘IDEA’ wall. 

TECHNOLOGY

Title sign (‘IDEA’) is made up of wood blocks laser-etched with written replies that were collected using photocopied response cards. The rest of the interior was a combo of wood and caster structures, IKEA curtain rails used for the display system, paper posters and some yellow vinyl graphics. The oversize flipable map is printed direct to substrate, two-sided on an eco corrugated board.

TIME SPENT

Start to finish, about six months for the whole space. (Several long months trying to figure out what the client needed the space to be and to do; another month to work out the design for the space, including collecting the responses for the IDEA title; then high-speed build-out in a few weeks to meet with their grant deadline!)

TYPEFACE

Various handwriting for block signage. Helvetica throughout space (the client needed to be able to use templates of ours to create new posters, etc., but they work on PCs with a barebones font list. So Helvetica/ Arial was the safest bet).

WHY DO YOU LIKE THIS PROJECT?

It was one of those nice situations where the client has been pummelled into low expectations by previous projects. They are used to working in poor facilities without much of a public ‘face’. The Idea Space gives them a showpiece. We did it for a pittance, but their gratitude and excitement makes all the difference. I went in the other day to see how it’s faring over a year later and they had updated posters up and it was neat as a pin. Very gratifying. 

OUTCOMES

See answer opposite (then).

FEEDBACK

Positive: The client loved it and we got great feedback from the community at the opening. Who can resist having their ideas burned into wood?

DO YOU TEACH?

I am an Assistant Professor in Visual Communication Design at the University of Washington, Seattle (USA) and teach Exhibition Design, Design Foundations, Graduate Seminars, Visualizations, etc.

IS IT POSSIBLE TO TEACH DESIGN?

I think you can certainly teach the basic tenets of design; good typography, what makes a photograph compelling, blah blah. But though I am a university design professor (aside from my studio), I am still uncomfortable in the role of saying what is ‘right’ and what is ‘wrong’ in design. Who am I to say? This probably makes me not as strong a teacher as I should be. I prefer showing my own design work and leaving it for the audience to decide whether it is ‘good’ in their book.