“We spend a huge amount of time thinking about how things will wear over time – what kind of conditions a piece of furniture will be subjected to,” says Remington Matters, co-founder of the multi-disciplinary design and production studio of the same name.
As the studio behind some of Perth and, more recently, Adelaide’s top hospitality venues it makes sense that hardy, enduring furniture is the mission.
Matters and co-founder Angus McBride are responsible for fit-outs and custom furnishings at Perth spots Mary Street Bakery, Dumbo Gelato, Panama Social, The Raft, Howard’s Groove and more – usually working in tandem with architects and interior designers, such as regular collaborator Gabrielle Scott, and sometimes filling that role themselves. In Adelaide they’ve produced furniture for Part Time Lover and Pirate Life Brewery.
“We started the business with the idea of doing furniture. It just so happened that we were multiskilled, so we could kind of approach all these different projects,” says McBride, who launched the business with Matters in 2014 in Perth.
“[At the time] there weren’t that many businesses that do metal work, fine timber work and industrial design components along with the architectural side of the design process – it’s such a broad offering,” he says.
“Being able to do mixed-medium making and design, and applying that to bars and restaurants in particular, works really well – you can do the lighting, you can do the chairs, you can do the tables, the back-bar units…”
The pair now run the studio from different cities – Matters in Adelaide and McBride in Perth – but operate “in unison”, says Matters.
In August they launched a debut range of made-to-order furniture for residential and commercial spaces, a timeless collection of timber dining tables, chairs, coffee tables and floor lamps in clean lines and smooth curves.
“Our mentality has always been ‘less is more’ – simple forms, functional forms,” says Matters.
The showpiece Fleek table comes in American walnut, American white ash, Tasmanian oak and Canadian rock maple. “We’re lucky in Australia to have all these beautiful hardwoods available, but I guess we’ve got an affection for the European and American hardwoods too,” says Matters.
“It’s romantic to make something out of a beautiful piece of walnut that’s come over from America. But we utilise Australian-made steel components where we can. We like to source a lot of our hardware, fixings and any furniture components we can from independent supply chains in Australia.
“If you can collab with a local leather worker on a product, that’s great, and it totally aligns with our ethos.”
In order to create accessible pieces, the pair aims to “make it beautiful and make it efficiently”, says Matters. The idea, ultimately, is to get locally made furniture into more people’s homes.
“Typically I will avoid making things laboriously with my hands,” he says. “Because then you’re stepping more into this collectible market, which is not what we want to do. We want to push locally made furniture and we want to make locally made furniture affordable. And in order to do that you really need to be efficient with how you make something, because the labour cost in Australia is so high, the material cost is so high.
“We concentrate on making beautiful furniture of the highest quality, but making it relatively quickly so it can be affordable for the everyday.”