Designer Matt Gagnon Merges Craftsmanship and Mass CustomizationAuthor:Marissa Gluck
L.A.-based designer Matt Gagnon’s diverse product portfolio has at least one underlying connective thread, the ability to customize any of his products by expanding or contracting the number of individual parts. For instance, his ceramic lamp is a single slip cast part in a repeated, asymmetrical pattern. While the ceramic “shades” are identical, the assembly process allows for a range of possibilities and shapes. According to Gagnon, clients have arranged the lamp both as a long, dangling cluster as well as a horizontal fixture. “Production doesn’t change,” says Gagnon. “But assembly and the final product can be customized.”
Gagnon’s “Squeeze Lamp” explores some of the same themes, if not the same materials. The repetition of a relatively simple wood piece creates an elaborate textural surface, that again allows the end user to form a one-of-a-kind piece. Gagnon says the flexibility allows the lamps to play with different scales, from a small table light to 14 foot tall sculptural fixtures. Most of Gagnon’s products rely on a simple, mass produced piece (in ceramic, wood, glass) that can be used to create a singular, individualized end product through custom assembly.
Gagnon’s work also shows its playful side in his “Paper Tables.” Inspired by the American southwest, and the eroded rocks and buttes created over time, the tables are comprised of layers of recycled paper board, laser cut and bolted together. Magazines and books can be stored in the cuts, creating a solid rectangular block with it’s filled.
Gagnon, who studied architecture at Cornell (he worked for Frank Gehry and Gaetano Pesce) and opened his studio in Brooklyn, has recently relocated to Los Angeles, setting up shop in Eagle Rock. “I’m happy to be back in LA,” says Gagnon. “It’s easier to take risks here.” While Gagnon also works in interior design, he appreciates the process of designing products. “Architecture is mainly representational. The process of resolving and learning takes much longer. You can design furniture at full scale, and touch it and make changes. It’s much more tactile.”
While Gagnon’s products are available in San Francisco at Propeller, in Los Angeles at Plug Lighting and Twentieth, and a number of other retail shops in New York and elsewhere, he’s recently signed up with wholesaler/dealer Ford&Ching, to expect to see his products in a few more stores shortly.
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