Let's Learn Spatial Design!
How do you design a physical space? Matt Howard will teach us how spatial design creates useful AND beautiful environments.
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Captions provided by White Coat Captioning (https://whitecoatcaptioning.com/). Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings.
Jason: Hello, everyone. And welcome to another episode of Learn with Jason. Today on the show, we have one of my best friends, Matt Howard. Matt, how are you doing?
Matt: I’m doing fantastic, Jason, thank you.
Jason: I’m super-excited to have you on the show. Normally Learn with Jason is a show about code. And you are not a coder. So, today we’re actually gonna talk about something totally off the wall. So, if you don’t mind, do you want to just give a little bit of a background on, you know, who you are and what your expertise is?
Matt: Yeah, absolutely. So, I started off adds just a lowly artist trying to figure out how to make themselves money in this world. And eventually stumbled on to graphic design. Which turned into a career in retail design. So, applying branding to spaces to get people to — mostly just to buy things. Over time, that evolved into an expertise in, like, really helping people just enjoy their time and experience with a brand in a space. Or even like themselves too. Not just like the connection to, you know, a big brother situation.
Jason: And so — and you worked on some really, really interesting projects. So, if you don’t mind, like maybe a couple highlights from your portfolio. Like what you did and kind of what the experience was.
Matt: Yeah, yeah. I spent quite a few number of years working at Nike. Still do now as a — they’re a client of mine. And some of the projects we got to work on there were like taking over their flagship stores. Creating just over-the-top experiences there. Like how to like make a shoe just exude the brand and create an emotional connection to something as simple as that, right? we would blow out a space, spend a lot of time and energy to create a story to give this a tangible experience. Looking at things. If we’re talking about like selling a water proof, or a shoe meant for running outdoors. There’s innovations around — for reflectivity, water repellance and speed that they would to convey. You can develop around those things and make a palette to exude that. Reflectivity, let’s put 3M vinyl everywhere. Rain? Let’s start playing sound. Like let’s start getting gobos, throwing lights, patterns on to space and create an immersive space that exudes that. So, it was — it’s super-fun in that industry. I love it.
Jason: Yeah. It’s a — it’s a lot of fun. And like, I also feel like something that’s really interesting about the space that you’re in, like you feel like, you know, I started this dream off on the wrong foot. This is not a code stream, you’re not a coder. But that feels very dismissive of how interesting this space is, and how much overlap there is when we think about what we do as any type of creative. Whether you’re creating with code, creating with paint or pen and paper, or creating with physical spaces. I’ve always found it so interesting that like, when we really talk, like, if we break it down, we’re solving the same problems. And I find that really fascinating. The things you were saying, we have a client, we have a client and we want to connect them. Thank you for the raid, I appreciate it. We’re going to try to understand where are they coming from? What makes them unique? What is their story and pull that into something that makes people feel like they’re connected to what you just made. To get from their own brain through the artifact that you created and create a connection to the brand. That artifact could be a website, an app, it could be a painting or it could be a three-dimensional floating shoe in the Nike flagship store. Whatever it is. There’s so many cool things that you could do. Thank you so much for the sub, Rob, I appreciate it.
Jason: So, like, and these days, you’re doing even more interesting stuff. You sent — so, you’re at — you’re at a custom shop now.
Matt: Yeah, custom products. We do build-out. We design and build out spaces for retail, which is on pause, of course, right now. But we also do hotels, restaurants, office spaces. Public art, too. Just things that are floating out there in space that are meant to be viewed from, you know, as you as a passer by.
Matt: The range of projects is pretty wide and really computing for someone like me who doesn’t necessarily want to specialize in just one thing. That’s why I love like what we’re doing now is there are designers, you know, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But if you want to purely focus on logos or web, you can do that. But building things for the real world, there are certain opportunities to explore that. It could be furniture, it could be architecture. It could be just interior design. It’s pretty wide. Just like as it is for folks who are coding and like the developer world.
Jason: Yeah. And I also think that there’s — there’s room for specialists and generalists, right? Because specialists are the ones who are going to take something and go deep. And really make that particular avenue incredible. But the generalists are the ones who are going to see the connections between all of those different specialties and come up with unique applications. And I think without both types of creatives, you end up with — with like less full-featured experiences, I guess? Like if I go really broad and I have a bunch of ideas, but I don’t have the expertise to go deep on any of them, then get most of the way there with a lot of things. And that is kind of my experience with the world. I’m able to do a little bit of a lot. And I rarely have the opportunity to really go deep and really do something all the way to the bottom. And then I’m surrounded by these people who are just world-class experts and they know everything top to bottom about their field.
Jason: And where really see the magic happen is when you get to mix all of us up in a pot. Who is going to go around and connect dots? And who takes all the dots and drives them home in a completely incredible way.
Matt: You’re absolutely right. Understanding the world we’re in right now — especially right now — is this offline to online experience. You know, if I work at like a coffee shop or a Nike or whatever, we certainly have our own app. But like how does that — how does that experience like transfer over to, you know, my customer coming into the space? And do those things talk to each other? Had
Matt: That kind of messaging.
Jason: And that’s what we’re talking about today. We’re going to see, how do we take a physical space and transition it to the world we live in today. For better or worse. Also, Alex, the reason that the boops don’t stay on screen is because the screen would be completely unusable. So, I had to put a time-out, otherwise we would be completely buried and you wouldn’t be able to see anything. Which while funny, is probably not that educational. So, yeah, let’s go ahead and talk about what we’re gonna do today. And so, specifically, what I thought would be really interesting is you have a skill-set that I really admire. Which is the ability to look at an existing space and then — hold on, one second. Wait, no, I need this one back. And that one. Yeah, that’s the one I want to see. So, you have this ability to look at an existing space and do, like, really interesting conceptualization other the top of it. And so, I’ve watched you just kind of think through and transform something just by drawing on a picture. And I think that’s so — so cool to see. But yeah. So, today we were gonna play with something like that. Do you want to talk a little bit about your process and maybe start? And let me know when you want me to switch over to a different screen here too.
Matt: Yeah, you can switch over to that mural board if you would like. The link for that is public, so if people want to check that out.
Matt: There are links to the company itself that we’re going to be talking about. So, I’m a frequent visitor, or used to be a frequent visitor of upper left roasters. They’re in Ladd’s Addition in southeast Portland. Fantastic space. And they make really great coffee, of course. But I love — I love everything about the space that’s there and their brand and the whole thing. And so, what you’ll see on this board is kind of almost a representation of what I do at the studio with our design team. Is we’ll take — we’ll print out or even do a collaborative board like this where we’re grabbing things that are representative of the brands, of the space, of maybe some of their competitors I things they want to do. To create a visual or a map of what they are about. This first tile, number one, is shots from their Instagram, their website. There’s a link in the corner if you want to see that later. You know, be my guest. But you’ll see they have this really beautiful mark that’s like the upper left arrow. The second board is just a — a collection of some of the things that their brand designer — that one down on the left, yeah.
Jason: Down on the left.
Matt: Yeah. Down here. their brand designer put together Adam Garcia, who is now I think an art director at Apple. Super-talented guy. But he put together this collection of graphics for them to play with. Which you’ll see applied to, you know, UI for online and T-shirts. The whole thing, right? As you should with a brand. So, collect things like that. And then number three is like the larger tile. Which is showing some of the — some content from field work design, which is the architecture firm that actually worked on the space that exists today.
Jason: Oh, cool.
Matt: You’ll see they were inspired by, you know, the triangle that forms.
Jason: I feel like we should take a quick tangent. This is a map of southeast Portland. Normal streets, normal streets, everything looks great. And then you get into Ladd’s Addition. Look at this nightmare — I mean, it’s beautiful. Gorgeous roundabouts, it’s lovely if you could afford to live there. But it’s the Bermuda Triangle if you try to go there. You lose your sense of direction and drive in circles until you run out of gas and call the cops. Luck, somebody please come and rescue me. They’ve got to Medevac you out. Sorry, totally derailed you. This red —
Matt: That little red triangle becomes a graphic device — it’s representative of the lot that the shop is on.
Jason: And they call themselves — is it upper left because they’re in the upper left side of Ladd’s?
Matt: Yeah, that and I think the upper left of the country.
Matt: Being in the Pacific Northwest. I’ve got a planned view of the shop there. Below the map. You can kind of see more detail about how it’s laid out. This is all from field work, by the way. I didn’t design any of this. Just to be super-clear about it. Just kind of collecting data, right? The top right image on this board shows, like, the palette and how, you know, they’ve got like some little indicators that show terra cotta, white oak from Oregon. And a recap of all the things in action. You can see the graphic device, that triangle is being used as an inset piece on some of their — the coffee counter, the barista counter itself as well as the furniture throughout the space.
Jason: what a beautiful space. I don’t think I’ve been to this coffee shop. Have to check it out.
Matt: Definitely check it out. The board, if you scroll further over, you’ll see photos by Marshall Steves. If you want to see more examples of what it looks like with people in it. Which I enjoy because, you know, you’re designing spaces for people. It’s not for, you know, architecture photos.
Jason: And I feel like that’s one of the thicks that’s the hardest. I remember when I was shopping for houses or looking at photos of apartments when I was looking to move somewhere. The hardest thing is all the rooms are shot empty. I didn’t have a sense of how I would fit in that space. And a lot of times I would get there and look at a photo, and that photo felt big and open and spacious. And then I would be in it and it felt really like close and cramped. And, you know, you find out that they shot this with a super-wide angle lens. And the ceilings are actually only 7 feet, but they look like 12 feet because of the photography. When you see people in the space, you get a real sense of scale that I always really like and I wish that was more common.
Matt: Yeah, yeah. It’s super-important. And it’s something that I have to remind myself as well as our design team often is to, like, include people in your reference imagery, even in your visuals too. That’s like include silhouettes or, you know, funny little stick figures of people doing things to show that this is a space that’s designed to be used and we’re considerate of that. Of those individuals. Also, grabbed screenshots from Google Maps. And a link to — you think there’s — these are probably like County reopening guidelines for COVID — COVID-19. Which we’re not going too far into right now. I’m not going to give you a tutorial on that. But what I do like about Google street view, by the way, is you get to see befores and afters. If you click on the right things at the right times. You can see the example of the building on the right. That’s what it used to look like.
Jason: Oh, wow.
Matt: That’s data that’s still on Google Maps if you just click around. It used to be some kind of service shop or — I think auto mechanics or whatnot. Maybe a bar at some point.
Matt: Now it’s a coffee shop.
Jason: That’s really fun. I didn’t know that.
Jason: But this is cool. You know what I think is really cool here? And maybe the chat will agree with me, is when we first started talking about this, you said we’re gonna look at upper left grocers. And in my head, I said, ah, hipster coffee shop in Portland. And then as we started talking, and looked at the way the location and the lot influenced the design and the brand identity and even the naming of the company, now I already feel like I like this company more than I did when you just told me the name. And I think that’s such an interesting thing. Like, the stories that you can tell. And just how susceptible we are. I straight up was like, whatever. And now you’ve told me this story, now I’m going to go there as soon as I have the opportunity. The power of stories is undeniable.
Jason: A quick shoutout. I forgot to mention. Quick shoutout to White Coat Captioning who is making live captioning possible. You can follow along with the show in text-based format. If I can get this to load, there it is. Down here. We have Amanda today is doing live captioning for us, thank you so much. And that is made possible by Netlify, Fauna, Sanity and Auth0, four very generous sponsors who have kicked in to help make this show more accessible to the whole community. So, thank you very much. Okay. So, we’ve got a story. We’ve got a board. And this is what you would do for every project, right? You start with this kind of story.
Matt: Right, right. And particularly the client would give you a brief too. That’s the main part that’s missing right now. This person or the people that are part of the company would ask us to do something. In your case, for example, we did your outdoor patio situation. And you had specific bullets you wanted to hit regarding how to use the space. We would try to mine similar information from this client. They would probably come to us. This is all fictional. But we can is say, hey, they want to reopen this summer. They had this grand idea to possibly take over the — the street in front of the location and build out a patio and create a more like really open communal space that is safe in that regard. But also, can work a little bit harder. Like maybe we integrate a changeable or let’s just say like a flexible food cart spot. That kind of butts up to that property. But also doesn’t — the whole thing doesn’t obstruct the existing bike thoroughfares that are there.
Matt: Maybe pitch that idea to the city or whoever to move forward with that project and start building something.
Matt: I was figuring we could kind of go down that route and explore what that might look like. Identify some of those — some of those things like outdoor seats, preserving a bike path and building out — yeah, just building out zones and kind of like just intimate space.
Jason: I’m so ready for this. I think what I’m going to do then is I’m going to switch over to — wait. I think I lost your iPad.
Matt: Oh, might have slept. Try this again.
Jason: Can this is gonna tweak us out for a second. But that will be okay. Good. Okay.
Matt: There you go.
Jason: All right. So, now we’re looking at the iPad screen. And so, this, to me, I have seen you do this a couple times and it feels like absolute magic. It’s such a cool process to watch. By the way, thank you for the sub, Ryan, I appreciate that. 6 months, dang. Doesn’t feel like I’ve even been streaming that long. But, yeah. So, what’s — what’s like step one here? Like what’s the first thing that you would do?
Matt: Step one. So, if we know some of the basic information that our client or our friend or whomever is asking for, typically I would go to — okay. What visuals do you need to help sell this idea to either sell yourself, like convince yourself that this is the right choice? Or just to, you know, to persuade others to — to take that next step with you? So, for this one, you know, sometimes I’ll start by just doing a bunch of little doodles from like plan views to actually interior views. We’re gonna start with a quick plan view. Just to kind of block things out and talk about like the overall space use and then if we have time, we’ll jump into an actual like exterior shot and like draw some things in perspective.
Matt: Someone did ask here, how much do I end up using my career skills for my own personal space? Does that make home feel too much like work? Oh, for sure. Sure.
Yeah. So, we communicate primarily through sketching. Me being like — like a spatial designer, I guess you could say. I sketch up quite often. I’ve surveyed my entire house. I’ve taken dimensions for everything. I’ve modeled the house. I have like four different options for how I want the kitchen to look. And three different options for how a new bathroom would relate to its position next to a kitchen that doesn’t exist yet. So, yeah, I’ve spiraled, for sure. Much like you might do on your own website.
Jason: And it’s also so funny because, like, because Matt is good at this, every time that I go over to — like whenever I come to your house, it’s like a — you’re like unrolling a blueprint to show me a thing that you’re gonna work on. Like you just did your landscaping, right? When Marisa and I talk about our landscaping, putting a tree over there. You’re like, here’s the schematic of our house, and here is — and you have like architectural drawings and 3D renders. And I’m like, how do I get you to do that for my house?
Matt: You know, all it takes is a good meal and some drinks. And, you know, ideas and conversation flow, right?
Jason: Yeah. But yeah. So, this — this is — I’m very excited about this. So, also, thank you for the sub, natenoberg. Yes, I use the page that has all the details. All right. So, we’re looking at.
Matt: What I have done is grabbed a few of the screenshots we just looked at. Like a plan of the can space and also the street. Because that visual didn’t exist yet. So, we’re just gonna like rough some ideas out really quick. On, you know, what this could be. So, our client, let’s just say is… again, a reminder that they’ve asked us to design like a new patio situation. But possibly taking over the street. So, their existing space is this guy here. We know that they don’t want to have anybody come into the location. So, that’s — well, we know that now. It’s fairly — it’s fairly large in here. They could, if they wanted to, create an entry, like a vestibule. That perhaps like comes up to a table. Just kind of like rough this out. Say they still want to invite people to come in and get coffee or something, right?
Matt: But they don’t want everyone to go in all the way. Maybe use this natural corridor in the center as like an in and out where they can get their stuff. So, they can come in. Maybe they order — they order here at a — a new bar setup we build there just to protect everything. Like protect the food and drinks and all of those other consumables that might be going on. And then we could have them pick up maybe over here on this side. And then exit.
Matt: You know what I’m saying?
Jason: A question in the chat, this is procreate, right?
Jason: This is the procreate app on iPad, and an Apple pencil?
Matt: Procreate, my new favorite. It’s like a Photoshop killer.
Jason: I love it.
Matt: It has the same layering as Photoshop. You can do different layer effects, multiply, linear burn, et cetera. You can export it as a PSD to Photoshop on your desktop if you’d like. The only thing it doesn’t do, yet, is like vector graphics. But I’m sure that’s something they’re working on.
Jason: Yeah, yeah. Well, yeah. So, like, there’s a question about the — the vestibule. The idea is, if I’m understanding this correctly, basically, because of the pandemic, the interior of most restaurant spaces have been rendered more or less useless. We can’t be inside spaces. So, the idea with this vestibule is we would theoretically be able to allow people to come in just enough to order and pick up their stuff. But without creating a space for people to like hang out or get — be too close to each other or anything like that. We want anyone who comes should be outside and properly socially distanced.
Matt: Yes, totally. That’s a great context. Thanks for sharing that. Yeah. And there’s several different ways. If we are just protecting the interior and not letting people hang out, you know, this is just a different view of that same space. So, you can kind of see, we actually had these bar tops on either side like here and here. We could use those for interaction if we want. So, we could do someone taking our order here and we throw up like plexiglass to protect them. And similarly, on this side, you could do like a pickup over here. Really what you’re trying to do is prevent people from doing a lot of back and forth.
Jason: Oh, yeah.
Matt: You want them to do something cyclical.
Jason: And You could even — you could put a vertical divider there, a plexiglass vertical divider so someone could be ordering and somebody could be picking up. And despite that being somewhat of a narrow space, they could be protected.
Matt: Yeah, totally. There’s various ways we can go about it. It really just depends. a lot of this comes down to the build budget. If they didn’t have any money, I would probably utilize the existing architecture just like we’re seeing here. I would probably throw in some sort of like temporary barrier, like refrigerated curtains almost.
Jason: Oh, yeah.
Matt: People know they can’t go through that. But allows an emergency exit for staff, egress, so, if there were a fire, they could escape. Yeah. You could basically restrict — use the existing architecture to your advantage. Don’t need to build something you’re going to throw away.
Jason: That’s very cool.
Matt: Assuming this all lets up. Yeah. I’m going to turn this off for a second. So, back out to here. If we just kind of pretend like, okay, this is the experience we want to have in this space. It’s either going to be a — whoops. Let’s go back to this. We’re either gonna have an order counter or some sort of counter that’s further up in the space, closer to the front door. Or we’re gonna utilize the existing architecture on either side. Done. So, we just want people to get in and out.
Matt: They do have a — a little patio situation here which is quite nice for outdoor seating. But the big idea that they’re trying to sell is taking over let’s just say like this entire area. Like, they want to shut down Clay.
Jason: I love that.
Matt: How do they do that without obstructing things? Well, luckily, this is already starting to happen. Like, streets are getting shut down. We’re getting converted to, you know, European principles in no time when it comes to urban space use. But, you know, we still need to have bikes go through. So, let’s just pretend the cars are no longer an issue. But we still need to have bike paths. So, maybe they only get like half of this. So, let’s draw — again, we’re just kind of roughing out some ideas, right? There’s gonna be a crosswalk here. Let’s say they want to take over half the street. There is a gas station over here, cool. But maybe we can, like, make that a more beautiful experience for folks that are enjoying the coffee shop by installing some like long planters. Like built-in kind of core, tine, steel planters that might have some plant material in them. But right now if we were to hang out out here, you’re looking at the side of a Shell gas station. Maybe we can get something to do that.
Matt: You know? So, if you are hanging out in front of the cafe, you’re not seeing the side of a white building. So, back to the cafe side. You know, we’re probably going to build, I imagine — whoops. I keep doing that. You select a hidden layer and it freaks out.
Matt: You might want to build a platform to match the street level. So, if we have like the curb, the curb is doing this right now. The cars are gone. We’re eventually gonna come in with let’s just say like a wood material. That is gonna match the curb height.
Jason: I get ya, yeah.
Matt: Fill this thing in with a new — it’s basically a deck. So, now we got a party space. And then my next — kind of my next thing I usually like to do is after we kind of figure out our working area. Again, this is all like — this is for bikes. I’m not drawing — I’m not drawing the sharrows in the right away. Wrong side of the street.
Jason: Yeah, it’s very British.
Matt: Yeah, it’s the wrong side. But you know what I’m saying. So, let’s just say like we don’t want to mess with the existing patio here. But we do want to build out more seating on to this deck or like create little communal zones out here. So, let’s just pretend like that food cart idea we had applies. So, maybe like, we drop a van in here. Go get your tacos. Or whatever you’ve got to do. We’re gonna throw in some luxuriously-spaced picnic tables in here. Maybe just a couple.
Jason: And for a sense of scale, like the distance between these would be what? Like 8 feet or so, so that you would have plenty of room for social distancing?
Matt: Totally. 8 to 10. Even if you’re standing in this area, getting service or just a human walking by. You still want 6 feet from the table to the next person’s bubble.
Matt: You know? So, you might want to do like — like that. Could be a 6 foot diameter circle.
Jason: Gotcha, okay.
Matt: You know? So, you probably wouldn’t want to have an overlap like that. That doesn’t make sense. You want more space between them. Yeah. You would set them apart like that. We could also create other like fun communal spaces like people outside in the summer time especially are — they’re all about fire pits, right? So, we could drop in, like, you know, do we do some kind of a giant U-shaped fire pit situation in here? And we maintain the curb — or like sidewalk. This is still — let’s just draw like this real quick. The sidewalk can still be used for people like moving back and forth. So, we don’t need to really worry about people moving too much on our deck. But, you know, if we wanted to drop in like that fire pit and do whatever we want on here, we can. You know, maybe we build another planter behind it to match the one across the street.
Matt: Create like — you create some privacy that way.
Jason: Yeah and I —
Matt: This is super-rough.
Jason: I think what’s interesting about this type of approach is, you know, what we’re proposing here is not like massive — you’re not saying, like, let’s level this building and turn it into a new building that’s like ready for the post-COVID-19 era. You’re just taking space that already exists and doing — and like this is something that has been discussed in Portland for a long time. Is how do we make the city more like bike and pedestrian friendly? And there’s a project that — that Marisa is volunteering for right now, the Portland Promenade, they are actively working to close down streets to make them pedestrian and bikes-only.
Jason: In would be a fantastic candidate for that. And the other thing I really like about this is you’re reintroducing greenery in a way that is, like, I feel like one of the things that gets really sad about being in cities — and Portland is very good at this. There’s so much greenery in Portland. But in cities, by a concrete building, on a concrete sidewalk, and three or four lanes of asphalt, and another concrete sidewalk and another concrete building. There was a suggestion in the chat to do a mural on the back of the gas station.
Matt: Yeah, totally.
Jason: But just a little bit — a hand-railing-type planter with some kind of greenery in it, no visual block. I have been noticing more and more how much that adds to a space. Take an empty apartment and add in a couple planters and it instantly looks like a minimalist space versus an empty space. There’s this little touch that something alive brings that is — it’s — it’s — it really is kind of sticking out to me more and more as I have been paying attention to space design. As being such a, like, a major, major part of it.
Matt: Yeah, yeah. And there’s — the funny part about this too is once you start — we’ve only gotten so many minutes into this conversation. But we’re already seeing other opportunities that the client might not have seen. Like the mural, for example. Or, like, hey, the owners actually have a really strong connection to a local music community. So, like, they might figure out, oh, maybe there’s an opportunity to have a stage set up that’s flexible to do outdoor concerts and turn this into kind of a hub of some sort. Small scale, of course.
Jason: To the side of the fire pit, you have what I assume are cafe tables? If those are portable, you can have a portable stage and move the cafe tables off, put a little 6 foot stage up so that you could put — not a full band — but like a small band. And like have a convertible area that you could make into, you know, it wouldn’t be able to be a packed house. But you would be able to get a few people out and listen to music. Which would be really nice.
Matt: These are my really crappy music notes. Yeah, maybe there’s like a zone for music. Just blasting. This way. Yeah. So, like this is kind of like where my brain typically goes. It’s focused around the people that would be enjoying this space. And typically, if you want folks to hang out for a certain number of hours, you would want a variety of things to do. So, like the fire pit, the food, the coffee, or, you know, the snacks that they serve there as well. They have really good sandwiches there, by the way. You know, bike parking. It being a bike thoroughfare. We could go a step further, this is a great summer solve. But, fall is coming just around the corner. Let’s put a roof on this thing. Or sections.
Jason: Yeah. Or you could even think of it as — so, like what I’ve seen a lot of places do is they have trellises. And then the trellises have, like, not plexiglass, but something — some kind of clear material so the light still gets through. But it channels the moisture off to the side so that you can kind of sit under an open space, but you have protection from rain.
Matt: Right, right.
Jason: That wouldn’t help with cold. But, like, if you have an overhead like that, then what a lot of the food carts have done that I’ve always thought is kind of news is they’ve put up these kind of heavy tent flaps, that when you put a space heater in there, it works well enough that you’re not freezing to death when you go to a food truck. I don’t know how that works in a post-pandemic space. Because now you’re outside again. Which probably doesn’t work. You’re inside again, I should saw.
Matt: And someone I think just brought up like plexiglass, or more glass. Glass is tough. And plexiglass is tough. Just because it feels so cold and sterile. It’s hard to create a space that feels like welcoming when you’re just — when you’re literally feeling like you’re in a box. And so, what I tend to lean towards is more of a mix of materials. Yeah, you’re probably going to need plexi somewhere. But might as well also do something to contrast that and to warm it up. So, do a full wood wall, or like a cork wall. Or something that’s, you know, living like a plant wall.
Jason: Those are so cool.
Matt: You can use other materials that also kind of provide privacy, you know, acoustic dampening. And a little bit of COVID protection as well. But we’re not creating clear boxes here. Like that’s not what I want to design.
Jason: Yeah. Well, and I think that also, like, those — to echo a couple things, things that I’ve always been troubled by with a lot of modern design is it feels like a cold, empty box. And one of the side effects of that is that everything is so loud. Like when you go to sit down in a modern bar, every single conversation bounces off of every surface and it just feels like overwhelming. And one of the things that I love most about a good design is, like, I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, or actually I know you’ve noticed this because you and I have talked about it. But chat, when you walk into a space, and that space makes you feel like you want to speak in hushed tones. And when you go there, no matter how busy the restaurant or the bar is, you have a conversation in a normal voice. Nobody is yelling, nobody is shouting opinion you can hear the conversation. You can hear some background music. I don’t care that that is a result of the, like the restaurant imposing rules. I think that’s a result of the — the space being designed in a way that makes you feel like you don’t need to yell. And I think a lot of that comes down to the materials, the spacing, like where the — like what you can see. Like, am I looking across a sea of heads? Then I feel like I need to yell. Do you feel like I’m in a private space? Then I can talk at normal volume. I’ve always found that so fascinating.
Matt: Yeah, there’s so much to — yeah. I’m sure this annoys my wife. But when we go to a new space, I spend like the first 5 to 10 minutes looking around, especially up, how did they engineer the HVAC? Not really a safety issue, but I’m curious, because, yeah. I care about those details. It’s easy to take things out of a box and plug them in. But if you know that — if you have an eye and like you — you know how the simple move of one like big vent or big conduit in the space makes it look bigger, might as well exercise that, you know? Go for it. So, I’m very much like — I process an entire space when I walk into it. It’s kind of annoying. Yeah. So, now that we have the — the plan sort of roughed out, you know, this is very rough, of course. We’re not ready to show this to anyone yet. But we could go to an actual perspective to see what it could look like. Especially in relationship to other vertical — things in the vertical space. For example, there’s trees there. Cool. I didn’t consider that in the plan. Because it wasn’t showing up. That’s something to keep in mind now. So, we probably can’t have a fire pit close to that. But maybe it’s more like on the corner here. So, if we were to draw out like — let’s just pretend we’re gonna add a Gerard deck, of course. This is our planter.
Matt: Or a planter. But also a bench. So, like, we can just imagine. There’s a pretty tall planter and inside of that would be a bench for people to hang out on.
Jason: I gotcha.
Matt: You can imagine yourself sitting here. Talking about life. With your friends. And there’s a four pit that you can’t see. Because the planter’s covering it. We’re about to point over it. Maybe it’s in this corner instead.
Jason: Yeah, okay.
Matt: This would have plant material in it. Like this L-shape. So, just for those trying to follow long, I’m drawing an L like this. And then a bench like that in plan view. And then our fire pit’s here. So, that’s what we’re seeing on the screen right now. And you could get this to be bigger. Like obviously with the type of plant material you pick out. There are certainly places in town like Rontom’s and, you know, even the Doug Fir has killer outdoor spaces that have been around for years. You can see how the spaces have grown with the plants and all that. They’re super-fun to hang out in.
Jason: Yeah, for sure.
Matt: I kind of like this idea of being out here. And being private. You know, we would have our food truck in the back serving up tacos or whatever we want to eat. I really love the idea of covering it, or the owner of the company or whoever is paying for this really loves that idea. So, I’m gonna like kind of rough in a ceiling and some framing for that. I’m not gonna put a ceiling over the fire, of course. But, you know, maybe just stop sort. Those are posts — these are posts that would hold it up. So, maybe like halfway through, just gonna use black for now. Like this whole area back there could be covered.
Jason: Oh, yeah, and then like the front half could be a trellis or something.
Matt: Yeah. The front half could be open.
Jason: Oh. And then you — like you know those like globe lights, you know? And you could string those up and create a whole bunch of cool space. And those are weather-proof. Like —
Jason: So much cool stuff you could do here.
Matt: Yep. Exactly. I’ve just turned our map the other way to match our previous plan view. So, what we’re doing now is food truck back there. This is going to be an open roof situation. And maybe do like a corrugate roof other this side. And have covered eating. And you could do let’s just say like free-standing chairs or tables out here. Just chilling. And then maybe your picnic benches, maybe one or two, hanging out under the covered area. Again, this isn’t to scale. But as we’re working through the space, we’re having to change the design because we’re realizing certain things are affecting it. So, that happens all the time. But I kind of like where this is heading. I think this is cool. And you could still do — you could still do like an outdoor concert situation too. Like that — that truck, for example, the van could end up being like over here. And the stage is actually over here instead.
Jason: You could even get like two trucks over there, right? Like have two — two food trucks or like the food trucks could roll out on days that you’re gonna have a show.
Matt: Totally. And so, like you could come in and just start coloring at that point. Like massing things out and help people understand, like, this — the shapes and their relationship to each other. I usually — it’s usually a lot prettier than this. Working kind of fast right now. This is usually a process that takes several hours.
Jason: I love that you’re apologizing for this. I don’t know in you have seen me try to draw fast. It would be straight stick figures. So, you’re doing great.
Matt: Yeah, we could even go like to the next — you know, does this — does this thing actually reach across and like —
Jason: Or like what it if went up at a slight angle like a vault?
Matt: Like that?
Jason: Yeah. Because it creates even more of a sense of space.
Matt: Yeah, yeah. And some people — I mean, if it’s super-permanent, you’re starting to see more groups do like green roofs.
Jason: Oh, my god, I love green roofs.
Matt: You could go crazy with that. It would feel pretty dark, like in the winter time. You know how Portland gets.
Jason: There’s a spot near — there’s a spot near me that has a deck out back where they have a grapevine that’s grown across — I think it’s a trellis — that they just grew a grapevine all the way across. It’s absolutely gorgeous. When you go and sit out there, there are literally grapes hanging down by your table. Because it’s not evergreen, they open up again in the winter so you get more light through the vines.
Matt: Oh, notice.
Jason: Which is — it’s just amazing what you can do it you’re really intentional about this stuff. And, you know, just even like the — what? 25 minutes that we’ve spent messing around with this, I can already see, you know, if this is the 5% effort, you can really tell like how much work and how much thought is going to go into a project like this to really — to make sure it hits all the marks that you want to hit.
Matt: Yeah, totally. Totally. Yeah. There’s so many different ways you can go. The easiest way to help yourself make decisions, too, is because this is kind of endless is having a budget, a timeline, you know, a typical scope. But also, if you find yourself struggling on specific things like I tend to go back to the values. So, like, what do I value as a human? I value being outside with my friends? And so, my brain immediately goes to outdoor spaces like this. Or I really value food. Or I really value, you know, local businesses. Or whatever — whatever that thing is. So, whatever those values are, if there’s no more than five, you can kind of integrate that into your decision making. Is this going to benefit a certain community that’s not —
Matt: That’s not — you haven’t considered before. Or, you know, whatnot? So, there’s a whole series of, like, things that you can do to help this go quicker.
Matt: Or help you make the right decision, I should say. It’s not necessarily like about the speed.
Jason: Yeah. And there’s a question in the chat about like is this the same process that you use for your home internal design? I think you’ve already talked about that a little bit. But like do you do the same thing? Do you just take a picture of your living room and start coloring on it?
Matt: I can show you that real quick if you want to see.
Jason: Oh, my god, yes, yes. Let’s do that.
Matt: Let’s see if I’ve got a good example. Some of these might be online too. I’m sorry if you have — well, if you want to follow me online, you can find me on Instagram. It’s just Matthew Howard with two Ts. And I’ve posted several videos like this. Instagram.com/matthewhoward. And I think you can see it in my highlights. But like home design, for example.
Jason: Oh, I’m not locked in.
Matt: Okay. I can share my screen if you’d like.
Jason: It’s okay. I posted a link in the chat. The chat can go — and I’ll include this in the show notes as well so people can go in there. I like — I love — oh! Is this your down — like your lower area?
Matt: Yeah. This is an example of that in action. So, I have this really — we have this really awkward space down stairs that I hate.
Jason: And you can see, that’s like a — that’s like a weird window into the kitchen. So, you can see like that’s the microwave through that top space.
Matt: Yeah, there’s like a couple steps down. It’s a cute split level house. But there’s this space here which we’re never gonna use as desks or whatever it’s trying to do. So, I want to rip it out. Again, like what we just did with the other examples. Is like take a photo. And then, you know, what’s cool? Well, you know, my wife and I like to make drinks and have folks over. So, I drew like a wet bar on top of it. What could that look like? And again, these are all layers. You can come in here, you know, I don’t like the sink where that’s at. So, we can move it over here instead. It’s pretty easy to turn these things off and on, just like you would in Photoshop. But other variations include it’s just storage. Make it a better version of storage. Or what if we went to town and created like a zoo.
You know? We have a — we have a bird named Penny. She’s a little cockatiel. She thinks I’m here mate. There’s hamsters in the middle and a fish tank below. It’s fun just using this tool. Again, tracing — basically tracing on top of the photos that you already have to kind of visualize something. And it doesn’t need to be like this detailed, right? You could rough it out pretty quickly on your own. Use aggravator of really simple painting tools. So, yeah, I definitely do this to my own house for sure. And people that don’t ask for it. I’ll go to friend’s houses and be like, you know, hey? You’ve got that that backyard, right? Let’s fix it.
Jason: And we specifically did ask it. We just did a renovation in the backyard where we added like a patio and a trellis and we like took some of the driveway off to make extra space. And that all came from — we were like, Matt, what should we do back here? And he literally just pulled out his iPad and like took a picture of our backyard and drew on top of it. And all the lightbulbs for us went off. And I think the power of this is that you get to take the abstract idea, and even with stick figures, you can say, well, it could look like this.
Jason: You know? And then you can kind of visual — you can imagine more concretely, as opposed to like just trying to visualize it in your head. It makes such a big difference, I think. What are we looking at here?
Matt: This is one of my favorites that we just whipped up. This is a pie in the sky idea for like if Starbucks was to open but needed like a vestibule to contain people. Like we did with Upper Left Roasters. We can create — this is a photo I grabbed from the interwebs of a Starbucks location. I drew a space within it. A space you can walk in. You can see featured product on the left, protected by plexiglass. You would have an interaction for pickup in the center there. With possibly a digital screen. And again, like talking about mixing materials, you know? We don’t need to do plexiglass everywhere. But maybe you can do like a mirror or something different like on the far right side. So, like a Starbucks logo or something on the — in white on a mirror. Just to make the space feel bigger. You know? You obviously realize you’re in a box. Like, that’s not fun. So, how can you make it more fun? Maybe this is a fun house mirror. I don’t know.
So, we’ll work through it like —s like this is an exact — like example of what it could look like once it’s all polished up. Keeping it in a sketch format in Procreate. You know, you could go as far as modeling and rendering it using a 3D tool if you want. It just depends on your level of investment and time, right?
Jason: And what I think is interesting about this, right? Is so, what you’re doing is something that is reasonably low barrier to entry. You’re taking a photo and then you’re using your tablet to just draw on that — that photo. And like what I’ve seen in the past like in the pre-tablet era is people would take transparencies, like those transparent slides and lay it over the top of the photo and flip it off and before. And flip on the transparency, and here’s the after. You could do that in layers or whatever. And I think what’s really exciting about this is, this is not specialized tooling. Like, there’s a ton of specialized knowledge. Like, you obviously have a pretty deep expertise in this. But the barrier to try it is very, very low.
Matt: Right, right.
Jason: You can do — I think even on your phone, now, there are ways that you can draw with your finger if you just wanted to do something really rough. You could just draw with your finger on a photo of your house or your living room or something. I really like that. Because I’ve probably never in my life going to actually take the time to learn how to do a 3D rendering of a house. It’s just — the chances of me having enough of a reason to do that are low.
Jason: But because it’s so easy for me to take a photo of my living room and then draw on it on my iPad, I’m much more likely top give that a shot. Like, I have done that. My bar in the front yard — in the front room was the result of several different drawings where we got to look at it, no, I hate that. All the ones I came up with we’re like, no, that’s not what we’re going to do. We knew what to immediately discount.
Matt: And there’s Procreate Pocket, like a mobile-based app for the same program. I think it does quite a lot of the things that the tablet is able to do. But obviously you’re using your big clumsy finger. Something I wanted to point out too for folks that are jumping into this particular program, if you’re curious about it, to make this easier, to make these lines look really sharp. If perspective is not your thing. You can — there is a perspective assist in here. So, you can do — you can set your own what you would call like vanishing points.
Jason: Wait, what? I’m about to learn things.
Matt: If you, for example, like I brought in a photo, right?
Matt: And I know that — if you don’t know anything about vanishing points, I recommend you look it up. But it helps you establish where lines go and like their — like how to — I don’t know how to draw things in space. I’m not sure how to best say that. But basically, your eye sees a couple different vanishing points typically. And on a camera in a basic setup, you’ll have at least two, sometimes three. In this one, you’ll kind of see — let’s me just hide some of this stuff. Oh, we’ll bring this up to the top and that will be easier. I’m just gonna crank this up. So correction, for example, I’m going to just draw on here. I’m going to tell, I just grabbed this image from the Internet. So, I can see that a lot of the lines for things that are going back in space are going this way. Like this table, for example, is going that. So, it’s going to a point on the horizon somewhere out here. If you trace these back. Just like this wall is. It’s going somewhere over here. And similarly, there’s a series of lines since this space is like, you know, built at 90 degrees and it’s convenient. There’s a dot somewhere off the page right now. But you can kind of see there’s these points that everything goes back to. And so, what you can do is turn on a drawing guide to help you establish where those are. And give yourself references back to that so that every stroke that you create aligns to that grid. You’re basically creating the grid to draw on.
Matt: I’m sure Maggie Appleton uses that.
Jason: she’s got killer resources. Maggie Appleton.com, look at her stuff. She has an incredible wealth of resources and she’s just a very good designer in general. Okay. So, how are you actually setting these up, then?
Matt: So, typically, these don’t exist. I’m just going to delete them for a second. Now I know — say I want to draw a very nice box inside this space. I want to do it quickly or draw something complicated like a bunch of lattice work. I want to have the reference points. That’s going to be helpful. I know I’m going to put them in here. Tap to create a vanishing point. I tap literally with my finger. And I’m gonna drop it right where those green lines come together.
Jason: Oh, yeah. I can see that it’s going like a radial.
Jason: Okay. That’s cool.
Matt: Put it there. And the other one is on the horizon. It’s slightly off the art board. So, I’m going to move it to the left. Like so. And let’s just say like sometimes there’s one above and below. Like if your camera is really low to the ground, you might need to drop another one. Like in the sky. And I could show you that later, Jason.
Matt: But, yeah. So, now that we have this grid that we can play with. Again, I turned off all the other stuff. Well, most of the stuff that was kind of the in the way. But I’m gonna draw another layer. But I’m gonna have that layer snapped to that grid that we just created. That vanishing point grid. So, I turn on drawing assist. It’s an option for every layer and now I can come in here and like not — I can’t really mess it up. So, if I draw like a — like I didn’t — I’m not intentionally drawing these lines. Like, I’m being really loose with it. They all happen to be snapping to that point.
Matt: And it’s basically perfect. Like you can’t — you can’t mess it up. And you can do the same way towards the other vanishing point.
Jason: So, looking at that from how you would actually use this, right? You have set these vanishing points up, drawing the table in the center, you’re going to trace the edges and it’s just going to stick?
Matt: Yeah, so, I think the up and downs — yeah, it still locks to left and right and up and down. That axis. But say I wanted to draw a new cube in the space. So, I literally just — I’m doing this so fast. You guys can’t really see how sloppy I am right now. But it’s making it looking like it’s in that space already.
Matt: It’s working really well. And let’s just say I want to give this a green face.
Jason: Wow. Yeah. I mean, it —
Matt: So, I don’t work for Procreate. But, you know, it’s a fantastic tool. I highly encourage you all to try it out if you want to get into stuff like this. Or even just to create graphics too. And then, yeah. So, then if you want to toggle. Like, now I’m back to more an organic brush. You can toggle it off and on. I can turn the draws assist off and go back to making a mess on top of it.
Jason: Yeah. That’s super-handy. That’s always something I’ve thought about. I’ve seen people do the perspective drawings. And like, I know that if you draw and hold, it will snap to a shape or a straight line or whatever.
Matt: Like this.
Jason: I just assumed everybody had way better eyes than me and were just doing that perspective that well. This is fantastic. So, a good question in the chat from Scrabill. What resources do you recommend for someone who is interested in this?
Matt: Oh, man, wants to build a bar in their front yard.
Jason: That’s not what I did, by the way.
Matt: To be honest, it might sound cheesy, but I’m on Pinterest and Instagram all day long. I’m looking at other stuff that people have already designed. So, I’ll follow certain keywords. To find inspiration for the things I’m after. Or a certain esthetic that I’m after. So, much like you might buy a magazine to — if you like modern homes, you’re probably doing to be a Dwell subscriber. Or if you really like ranch style homes from the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s, you’re probably going to subscribe to atomic ranch. When it comes to building things, I don’t have a resource outside of the Internet in general. But when it comes to the design of things, it’s out there and already exists. It’s common. That’s where most of the content is being produced.
Jason: In all fairness, one of the things I have noticed about design, very few things are net new. Like almost everything is a rearrangement of existing ideas. So, the trick isn’t to like invent things, the trick is to understand what’s available and see ways to connect those dots in different ways, right?
Matt: Right. Often times, you’re not trying to reinvent the wheel. You’re trying to take an existing space or thing and not waste it, make it better. Trying to improve upon it. You know, don’t throw that picnic table or bed frame away. Don’t knock out a specific wall in your house. There might be other way to go about fixing the problem if you can reframe it or with a certain set of values in mind.
Matt: Esthetics are easy to search for. If you like minimalism and plants, you can type plants. And plants and minimalism into Pinterest or into something, a search aggregate. And you’ll find good stuff.
Jason: And so, if you don’t know — for somebody like me, I’ve never heard Atomic ranch. If you tell me to identify a ranch style house. I have a 45% chance of picking one out of a lineup. I kind of know ranch style. But I don’t know that I really know the difference between a ranch style and a lot of other common houses that I would see in a neighborhood. So, if I want to start building this — this board, it sounds like really the secret is starting to learn what the styles are named so that I can search for them. So, if I see a house that I like, I should find out what style of house that is and search for more. And see if it’s just that house, or if it’s all houses like that.
Matt: Totally, yeah. I’m definitely not an architect. I’m more of an interior kind of display kind of a guy. But, yeah. If you stumble upon something you really love. Like I love that base. You’re certainly going to try to find out who made it, of what era, et cetera. Your example is great, Jason. Like, I really love that ranch home. I don’t know it’s called a ranch. But you can — you can look up that era, right? You can probably say, oh, that feels like it’s from the ’50s. And then you’ll go down a rabbit hole. All of a sudden you’ll be looking up — rummers are like a fantastic home design that are like blowing up right now. There was an architect —
Jason: Rummers? As many?
Jason: Like a nickname for rum.
Matt: And if you Google the house.
Jason: Google also thought was thinking about rum.
Matt: These are the types of homes where they have large spaces inside the house.
Matt: You would stumble upon that probably we finding — going down that ranch home path. Or like mid century modern path.
Matt: Might eventually end up here.
Jason: Yep, okay, well, these are gorgeous.
Matt: And way out of my price range. But you’re seeing people design — what I love about these specifically, it’s jumping back to my love for the outdoors. Anyone that brings a lot of plant material into a home, or considers natural light and your relationship with the outdoors, I’m really into that.
Jason: Yeah. Yeah, yeah. And I mean — and like avh4 brings up a great point. If you don’t know any of these terms, if you’re going to look at a house and say that’s a house and that’s about all you know, maybe the best way to start is just do a Google search. Like, popular house styles. And get a breakdown where somebody gives you the big buckets. That’s where you know — I feel like a lot of times when something — when an area of knowledge feels too large, I don’t know — I don’t know the vernacular, I don’t know, like, any of the categorizations, how to start slicing it into sub-categories, something big like that helps me cut off huge chunks of what I don’t care about. If I look up houses and I find out that the ones with the big columns out front. I don’t want that house. What style of house is that? I can get it out of my search. These ones kind of look the same to me, but this one is a whatever, a chalet style, this is a Dutch colonial. And the difference is this. Now I know, oh, I’m looking for that thing and that thing. And you can start to slowly narrow down without having to become an actual expert. You start to learn, oh, if I search for this suite of phrases, I will find things that mostly look like what I want. If I’m more of an expert, I have better search terms. Coincidently, the secret to being expert at anything, expert-level, is Googling anything.
Matt: That’s true. If you get an emotional connection to atriums, for example. Go into an institution, a building, and giant atriums. If you search for atrium and house, you’ll probably end up with things that look like this.
Jason: Let’s see if we immediately see… yeah. Like, see? These are a little more modern? How long before we get to a rummer?
Matt: I don’t know. Be you can do the same thing too. Let’s just say you like — you’re trying to design like your kid’s bedroom. And you’re really into Montessori. Or you want like some kind of modular shelving system. You don’t necessarily need to know the name of a style to find that information. You could just kind of look for those keywords to find things to inspire you.
Jason: Yeah. Yeah. And kandykane, at that point, why not just hire an expert? Absolutely hire an expert. That’s what Matt is here to do. And I think that it’s, you know, it — what I’ve always found is I — when you do any project, you are either going to spend time or money on it. And probably almost always some combination, right? So, you’re finding a spot on the spectrum where you’re saying I will invest mostly time and as little money as possible. Or the other way around. As little time as possible and spend whatever I need to in order to get it done. And I think that the tradeoff there is just weighing your options. Like, how much money is available to you? If you want to get a thing done and you don’t have enough money available, could you learn the thing and do it at a lower budget? Or if you have the money available, do you enjoy it? With maybe learn the skill. Maybe it’s worth spending the time. If it’s stressful and you’re fighting all the time because you and your partner don’t know enough. Marisa and I get into that, different parts of the house, we know enough to know what we want, but not enough to have a constructive conversation. That’s when we decide to hire an expert. We’re going to spend so much time and it’s so stressful that it’s worth more us to spend the money to save the time. And so, I think, you know, it’s a spectrum. Is this worth it? Is this taking years off my life? I should spend money. Whereas if I’m having a blast, why pay someone to do something that’s fun more me?
Matt: Yeah. And if you have values to go back on. You have scope to go back on, time, money, et cetera. And if you have — especially a list of things that you love and don’t like. Like that’s — that’s huge. That’s very valuable information to someone that’s gonna help you. As someone kind of mentioned in here too. You know, doing a little research at first will help move the project along if you decide to engage something. That came from David, someone who works with me. David Bouaf.
Jason: Nice. This is such good information. And like the — I actually — do you have any of those — you had shown me some really cool photos of the custom stuff that you’re doing for interiors. And I think this is just a good like talking about experts and things that they’re good at. What is — is it Axiom custom?
Jason: Yeah. You showed me like one of your coworkers did a gold-plated chicken sandwich which is one of my favorite things that I’ve seen in a while. And like, do you have any other examples that I can point to of like some of the cool custom build-outs that you’ve done?
Matt: Yeah, there might be — we’re actually in the middle of a brand refresh right now. So, the site’s not super-updated. We have more relevant content probably on Instagram. But which — if you scroll down — we might see —
Jason: Look at that.
Matt: A similar case, like use case. Or case studies here. So, like that — let me try and think. That shoe thing is pretty hilarious. There’s a mix of stuff you’re seeing here. There’s very marketing-specific projects where we’re helping Nike or Jordan sell something very specifically. And connect to a community or build out a story. So, that’s what some of these examples are. And then you have like the opposite end of the spectrum, which is like furniture and possibly like architectural space. And have so, you’ll see a variety of stuff on here. That top one in the left, the top left one with like a large shoe. That’s like something that we design and built in-house in a couple weeks. Like, that was for a music festival that Tyler the creator throws in LA every year.
Matt: So, he was launching a new shoe with converse. And they hired us to build a beacon, if you will, to celebrate that. A place for people to get Wi-Fi, hang out, charge their phones. So, it became like a space that was for folks to hang out and chill and get recharged.
Jason: That’s so much fun. This is a space I don’t go into. Physical space is not a thing that I really touch. And so, it’s really, really fun, to me, to just see the creative things that can be done when you start looking at what happens in physical space, right? I’m always trying to play with digital space. But there’s only so much you can do. And so, how do you take that a step further? How do you move that into the real world and make it something that you can play with? And I think that, you know, there’s — there’s making the apps. Like augmented reality. It’s still very digital. And then there’s like, let’s make a big-ass shoe. And I just think that’s so much fun. And it’s so cool to think about how much of an impact that sort of thing can have on my mood as someone attending the festival. Like, you know, it’s a thing that you remember. It’s a thing that you take photos with. I’ve never seen anybody take a photo with a website. You don’t get a lot of, like, I had the best experience of me with this app! Here’s a selfie of me with this app. It’s never that. But always, look at this amazing space or this super-cool chair. Those are the things that you want to — you want to take a photo with it. Or interact with it or touch it. And I think that’s so cool.
Matt: Yeah. And there’s — there’s some — there’s some sweet spot between, you know, our two worlds, Jason. Like if I’m hanging out over here and you’re hanging out in code. There’s got to be some really cool stuff that we could make. That doesn’t just like drive you to a purchase. Or creates a sharable moment. But does something else.
Jason: Don’t threaten me with a good time, Matt.
Matt: It’s something a lot of companies are exploring right now. Especially since the events and space industry has been hit so hard with, you know, with what’s going on.
Jason: Sorry, that was a poorly-timed laugh. The chat was making funny statements and you were making sad statements and I laughed at the wrong thing. But I’m with you on that. Because I think that there’s so much potential. And Marisa is the chat talking about the idea of place making. And there’s so much interesting potential for like — so, like, physical space like a statue is beautiful. You see it. You enjoy it. You take a photo and then you kind of move on with your life. And an app or a website is informational. You learn what you need or you do the thing that you need to do and then you move on with your life. And what I think is really interesting is this idea of, like, how do we merge them? And like what’s possible if we merge them? Like, we had Charlie Gerard was on the show a little bit ago. And she was talking about human-computer interfaces in a way that I don’t think a lot of people are playing with. She’s putting on a head band that reads her brain waves and she’s able to do things like control her computer or play Beat Saber or whatever. She’s able to do these really cool things where she interacts in real space and it makes impact in the digital space. And you see things like interactive — interactive overlays. There’s a company that I can’t remember the name of, but they do like an augmented reality projector. And it, like, will map the space that you’re in and overlay it with things. And you can actually like interact with it. If I wave my arm, it will affect what’s being projected on the screen. Now you can create like truly interactive physical environments. There’s so many cool things that I’m seeing come up. I’m really excited to see what’s happening.
Matt: It’s super-inspiring. And I think there’s opportunities to like break things. Like, let’s figure out what entertainment looks like. How can the movie theater system adapt to be more immersive? And like, I don’t mean like smell-o-vision. But how can you create an experience that’s more rich and has more tactile touchpoints to that also connects to something else in digital that can scale. I’m very, very interested in exploring all that. Every day. Every day I wake up.
I think it’s — I mean, it sounds cheesy, it’s the future. But it kind of is, you know?
Jason: Especially now.
Matt: Furniture is also not going away. You know? People still need things to sit on, to help them be more productive. So, it’s not like — all of our goals need to be so high and like ground breaking.
Jason: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it’s — it’s funny because it feels like especially with like COVID-19 and the way that it’s just upended all physical spaces. It feels like everything is different. But at the same time, like, everything is still the same. We’re, you know, we still have to go to work. We still have to find ways to interact with each other. We still have to feed ourselves and we still have to create social connections. So, how are we gonna do that when the rules are different, right? Because the needs are the same. So, and I’m — I’m really interested to see what companies like yours and what — what creative minds like yours are gonna do with physical spaces so that we don’t lose that purely human aspect of, like, how do I go interact with my friends in a way that’s not inherently risky? And I know that we can solve that. We can solve that with design. We can solve that, you know, there’s a bunch of things that we can do just in general. Like, you know, wearing masks and stuff. But, like, how do we make it so it doesn’t become I have to put on a hazmat suit to see my friends. I want to go to a space that’s designed to keep me safe. Instead of making myself safe to go into a space that’s inherently unsafe.
Jason: I’m really excited to see what that does to culture in general. But like specifically, how does that become digital? It seems like we’re at the first — the first point in human history that I’m aware of where there’s a fundamental shift in needs while also having access to the kinds of technology that we have.
Matt: Yeah. It’s — it’s incredible. And, I mean, it’s something that I’m — my hunch is lately I have been like steering me towards — because it’s happening, you know, especially with like the 4th of July. Most folks walked outside and hung out with their neighbors for the 4th of July. It’s like with any holiday, not and specific to last weekend. Empowering smaller communities to get stuff done via daycare or growing food. Or just generally helping each other out. I think that’s — you’re gonna see more of that. It’s gonna be less of us as independent families trying to get things done. Because it’s not sustainable. Unless capitalism changes in some way or like the expectations of what we’re doing here every day, like 40 hours a week, if that doesn’t change, then something else needs to step up to the plate. It might just be smaller communities that do lower their guard. That share like — that share space and like, you know, create — create cells, so to speak.
Jason: I love it. Matt, this has been so much fun. And it’s such a welcome departure into a whole new world like just different things that we don’t usually think about. So, with that, if someone wants to dive deeper or follow your work, where should we send them? Let’s send them to your Instagram for sure that I apparently closed. Open that again.
Matt: Instagram is great. I’m on Twitter. Life has been too busy. This is my primary outlet lately. If you want to see funny sketches or serious topics like BLM, it’s all on here. Yeah, I’m super-excited we got to do this. I hope we get to do it again soon.
Jason: Yeah, I’m really excited. I think at some point in the future when we can safely be in the same place, I really want to like do a physical thing. Like, you’re so good at creating physical spaces that I think it would be fun to actually try to do that together.
Jason: With that being said, y’all, thank you so much for hanging out today. Matt, thank you for coming and teaching us. This was super-fun. Huge thank you to White Coat Captioning for doing the live captioning today. And to our sponsors, Fauna, Netlify, Sanity and Auth0 for making this community more accessible for everybody. With that said, thank you for tuning in. We are going to raid, chat, stay tuned. Matt, thank you for hanging out. We’ll see you next time.
Matt: Thanks, Jason.
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