At home with...Matt Kelly of Plaey

Designer maker Matt Kelly of Plaey
Designer maker Matt Kelly of Plaey
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Matt Kelly founded Plaey Workshop, a contemporary furniture maker. He has also designed a new vase for The Hepworth

Describe your home? I live in Saltaire with my girlfriend and our cat, Pepper. It is a beautiful Victorian terrace house full of character. Inside, it is a fairly modest two-up, two-down abode. Our style is a combination of minimal, compact living and modern mid-century furniture. Quite a few Plaey prototypes pieces are appearing. It is really important for me to live with my products as part of the design process.

The vase designed by Matt for The Hepworth Wakefield

The vase designed by Matt for The Hepworth Wakefield

What is on your interiors wish list? Dieter Rams 606 Universal Shelving System made by Vistœ. For me, it is one of the best pieces of design. It is so simple and timeless. I love the way the design is modular and can be added to as your life grows.

This is really visionary understanding of the way people live and their needs. I also love the Finn Juhl Glove Cabinet. It was designed in 1961 for his wife’s glove collections. I love the colour palette of the drawers. This is a really nice example of a piece of design made with the motivation of love instead of a brief or a commission.

Which household items could you not live without? The kettle. I drink a lot of tea. Everything feels better after a cup of tea.

Which designers do you most admire? Charles and Ray Eames. They are the designers that I keep on revisiting. They managed to have a strong overall aesthetic but applied it to a wide range of designs, projects and ideas. I love their ethos and what they set out to do with design. I still think about the Barbican exhibition on them I saw about three years ago. I had to stop halfway round as I was so overwhelmed. The Case Study House they designed and built in 1949 as part of the Art & Architecture magazine’s competition is the ‘dream house’. I would love to go to California to pay it a visit one day.

What is your favourite building? I’d have to say The Hepworth Wakefield. I was lucky enough to get the gallery manager job nine months before the building opened to the public. The job brought me back to Yorkshire from Edinburgh, as I had previously studied at Sheffield. I got to work closely with the David Chipperfield architects on the final fit out stage of the project. It was a once-in-the-lifetime moment. Looking back I learnt a lot about confident, simple design and also how working in a building like this can affect you and how great architecture can affect your wellbeing. I was lucky to spend so much time in those beautiful gallery spaces working with lots of amazing artists. I now have a new love of visiting it afresh as a visitor.

Is there anything exciting you at the moment in terms of design? Collaborations, incuding my most recent with The Hepworth Wakefield. I have designed the Hepworth Block vase for them. It is made from Jesmonite and was inspired by Barbara Hepworth’s sculptures, the architecture of The Hepworth Wakefield and its garden. It is designed to hold single stems or small sprigs of flowers. Most recently I have collaborated with North Brewing Co to make a beer. The project spanned photography, graphic design, sound recording and most importantly beer.

What and where is your ideal home? I would love to build my own house one day. This would be by the sea and made from lots of plywood and it would have plenty of colour.

Who would you most like to invite to dinner and why? Charles and Ray Eames would have been the perfect guests. I have so many questions about their design approach and ethos.

*Contact: Plaey, a design workshop focused on simple, playful, modular furniture.