Matthew is Founder and Creative Director of Hufft Projects. Comprised of architects, artists, designers and craftsmen, Hufft is bridging the gap between trades and technology. The holistic design work coming out of the digital, wood, and metal studios are routinely recognized by the likes of Dwell, AIA, Esquire, Architectural Record and many others.
Your Studio Is Turning 10 Next Year. How Do You Approach Projects Differently Today Compared to When You First Ventured Out?
While we are working on a larger number of projects across a broader scope, our design process remains very much the same. There is a process of exploration in each work of architecture, and we try to innovate and push the envelope in every avenue we can. When we started ten years ago we had 3 people. Now we have almost 40. As a much larger firm, the incredible amount of shared knowledge under one roof is the biggest differences, and advantages. With that knowledge comes expanded capabilities and remarkable possibilities in design, construction and fabrication.
How Do You Bring the Different Teams Within the Studio Together to Ensure Architects, Designers, Fabricators, and Woodworkers Are All on the Same Wavelength?
It requires constant attention and communication, making sure that we working as a team from the onset. One of the first diagrams we show our clients is a line graph of each team member’s involvement over the course of a project. Each person in our studio has a unique role in the design process. Some contribute heavily in early phases and are not involved in others. Others remain steadily engaged throughout the project. It is critical that each team member is involved at the correct moment in the project and that we are open to one another’s feedback. That’s a crucial part of collaboration.
The Variety of Craftsmen Working Together Under One Roof Is Uncommon in Your Industry. What Led You to Make Those Choices in Skill Sets and How Has It Paid Off?
On our firm’s early projects, working directly with craftsmen helped me learn the trade and made me a better architect. These valuable relationships and lessons learned from craftsmen early on made the buildings I designed better. Now we have brought many of those trades into our studio to allow those conversations to happen early and often. Whether designing a residence, piece of furniture or cabinet pull, we think about the way things are made at the beginning of the design process, and seek input from the people who will be building it. It’s not always a smooth and easy process, but it pays off when you see the finished product.
Your Scale Ranges From Residential Architectural Down to Handmade Modern Furniture With Edwin Blue. What Does Each Project Have in Common Despite the Obvious Differences?
In each project, we begin our the design process by examining the site. Then we identify our client’s needs. We develop an overarching concept that unifies our design, then follow that concept to reach an elegant and practical solution. While the scale of a residential development is vastly different from that of, say, a conference room table, the Site, Client, Concept model is applicable to most every project.
What Is Your Latest Epiphany?
Work/life balance is impossible. A full life is one that has no boundaries between the two. The hard thing is maintaining a healthy focus on both the personal and professional side of life – and needs constant reflection.