Craft Cubed: Matt Thomson | Bag designer and maker

Images courtesy of the artist, 2019

Images courtesy of the artist, 2019

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Craft Cubed Presents: MATT THOMSON


A lowkey, informal event to celebrate the launch of the brand new mattt SHOP & BAG LIBRARY laneway space. A space constructed in a new courtyard space accessible off a laneway this will be the place to visit to view and discuss bags and take part in workshops and events.

What’s the significance of the handmade to you?

Using my hands to create objects and translate my ideas into something tangible is a massive part of who I am and most definitely my happy place. I love how an idea changes and develops as I work, and how the materials I'm working with very much inform the final outcome. More broadly I feel objects with a sense of the maker and the context in which they're made are far better at creating an emotional connection with the end user and the role it might play in their lives. I've recently started documenting my making process and sharing this with my customers through an online archive/library, and while very early days with this project will be fascinating to see how this evolves over time.

How would you describe your craft community?

Being a Melbourne based maker that has made bags for nearly twenty years (with the majority of this from a studio in the Nicholas Building) I feel very appreciative of the strong sense of the maker community that has informed my work over the years. This is both in terms of developing skills and learning from others, sharing my own knowledge, and perhaps most importantly the feeling of a shared direction or purpose being part of a community brings. For the most part my craft community is more product based (having met mostly through design markets and such) and big on tangible outcomes that connect with customers rather than the more theorectical/academic aspects of craft.

What is your earliest craft memory?

My earliest craft memories would be learning to knit in early primary school (I think I was better then than I am now), and my love of making elaborate paper mache constructions.

What is your philosophy or motto when it comes to creativity?

My approach to creativity is probably mostly not overthinking things (though this is a struggle sometimes), trying to solve a problem and being open to where the process leads me. Over the years I've also learnt to better appreciate the value of giving what I'm working on space by going for a walk or a swim (both excellent for coming up with ideas and solutions).

Where do you go in Melbourne for inspiration?

Although I don't have a specific place I find inspiring, I do find a meandering walk through Brunswick, Fitzroy and the city generates lots of ideas and inspires many aspects of what I do. For some reason I also find live music a terrific inspiration, with some of my best ideas coming while watching a band at the Forum Theatre.

What are you reading OR listening to at the moment?

At the moment I'm listening to Anima, the new Thom Yorke album and Son Lux by Karen O and Danger Mouse. I've also just started Do Story - How to tell your story so the world listens by Bobette Buster which is terrific so far.

How would you describe your studio or making environment?

My studio environment while ideally quite neat is often a little messy when I'm busy. I'm currently building my new shop/work space (which I'm launching in three weeks) so it'll be interesting to see how this new courtyard space informs how I work.

How does "good" craft make you feel?

Good craft makes me feel grounded and like the world isn't such a bad place afterall.

What is your dream craft collaboration - if history and geography and money was no barrier?

My dream collaboration would either be to create a bag for the first mission to Mars. For this functionality would obviously be paramount, though would be fascinating to test a bag in zero gravity and ensure that whatever I came up with would need to be repairable as it would be difficult to post back to me if something needed mending. It'd also be amazing to have made the first bag on Mars!!

What other Craft Cubed events are you excited about?

As I've two events in Craft Cubed I've been very busy preparing and finalising these. That being said I'm looking forward to the Reel To Reel program of Craft Cubed, and hope I can take time off from the shop building to make the most of this.

Find out more about Matt Thomson
Instagram: @mattt.com.au

Website: mattt.com.au