Alas, ’tis the busy season! The next few weeks are a little hectic for us - the good kind of busy. We are currently in the middle of our Spring 14 photoshoot. This time around we will be using models to demonstrate the proportion of the bags in relations to the body.
In the next few weeks, we will be shooting our campaign shots for Spring 14, our Fall 14 web & campaign shots… all whilst designing the new Spring 15 collection. We are currently scouting for different locations, props, clothing and models. Lots of bags, lots of great people and lots of great ideas, that’s what we’re all about! It’s an exciting week, stay tuned for more updates!
This is it folks!…this is how we shoot the bags. We take countless hours to do and redo shots, until they are perfect. Details are important at Matt & Nat, both when elaborating our products and during our shoots. We aim to give our customers the best of the best.
A glimpse at our wallets for Spring 14. Fun colours and tones of compartments for you anything you can fit in them! These will surely make your lives easier as they are conveniently spacious enough to store all your essentials.
Bags as far as the eye can see…all coming your way this Spring 14!
We moved our offices last December from Chabanel street (otherwise known as the fashion district in Montreal) to an area not too far from there that feels really different. The streets in our new neighborhood are bordered with grass so it’s easy to step out and get some fresh air, eat your lunch seating on a rock or take a moment to relax outside. After 8 years spent on paved streets, I must say this new address makes me appreciate these simple pleasures. Given the incredible summer weather we’ve been experiencing the past couple of days, I decided to step out and take some pictures of our Dean backpack around the block this afternoon. The Dean has been one of our favorites recently: it’s so simple and practical, and yet we love the sharp lines. It’s also great on a bike, so when we were experimenting with the recycled rubber from bicycle tires, it made sense to try the material on this style. What you see in the pictures is a development sample of the style for our Fall 13 collection, one of these prototypes we use to test our ideas. We changed it a little bit after that, maybe we’ll use this sample for one of our giveaways.
We recently had the pleasure of chatting with Nell Alk, an arts and entertainment writer and reporter based in New York City. She currently contributes to The Wall Street Journal, Blackbook, The Responsibility Project, Movieline, Blindfold Magazine, House Magazine and more. We had the opportunity to ask her a few questions on creativity and inspiration and here is what she had to say!
I’m a Wisconsin transplant living in and loving New York City. Seven years ago I moved to Manhattan to work in publishing and, in a way, that’s what I do today. I’m an arts and entertainment writer and reporter, as well as a copy editor and copywriter. The latter talent I’m ever evolving, honing said skills as I get the gigs. Being a freelancer isn’t easy—and it isn’t terribly lucrative—but it’s rewarding and endlessly surprising. I thrive on the hustle. So far, the lifestyle suits me. That said, if you’re reading this and looking to hire someone scrappy and savvy to write and/or edit full-time, by all means keep me in mind. I also love to travel, read, cook (vegan), work out and wander aimlessly around NYC. Five activities I can never get enough of and wish there were more time to do!
What is your favorite creative outlet?
Writing. What else is there? Seriously. What’s a writer to say?
Ideally I’d like to carve out time to be more creative with my writing; perhaps try my hand at short stories or pen a children’s book. But, for the time being—as I’m caught up in the daily grind—I take pleasure in interviewing individuals of all ilks, for a number of reputable publications. I also enjoy the challenge of crafting snappy copy for brands. And I actually like proofreading. I’m meticulous. I edit love letters.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
Honestly? NYC. And people. People in (or passing through) NYC…doing innovative, interesting things. Whether creating art or making movies, getting to know new people and their respective endeavors is fascinating to me. I also draw inspiration from where we could be doing better. And by “we” I mean humanity. So, problem solving—or at the very least publicizing—significant issues is tantamount to me.
What does living beautifully mean to you?
When one’s deep beliefs and core compassion align with their words and actions. Living one’s values and refusing to compromise, even when it’s inconvenient. The term authenticity is tossed around a lot, but most folks fail to scratch the surface. I try to be my best self and am drawn to others who strive for the same.
My prof in university for strategic management was an ex-firefighter who was a brilliant leader/mentor.
In one of his lectures Mr. O’connell told us about one of his key interview questions in business: ‘Tell me about a mistake you made in your career, what you learned from it and how you would handle the situation differently moving forward.’ He went on to say how it usually took potential candidates off guard and more then less would answer that they didn’t make any major mistakes that they regretted. This would be the end of the interview.
So here I am 23 years later asking potential candidates this week (we’re looking to fill a position in customer service): ‘what has been an experience in your career that you would have handled differently’. You would be surprised how many candidates are speechless ! It’s not the end of the interview for us….however we do want to get to know our potential peeps a little better, what are we looking for ? Depth, humility.
I’ve had a ton of ‘learning experiences’ here at M&N. Over a period of time between 2009 and 2011, we made changes in terms of design and distribution. Sadly, we alienated some customers in the process that had given us their support since our humble beginnings back in 1995.
In 2012 we came back to our original founding ethos: designing timeless pieces with innovative materials in the inspired color of the moment, with accessibility being key. My learning experience ? NEVER take the customer for granted, EVER. They are as much a part of MATT & NAT as our creations and our team so any decision we take has to involve them. I would have never have had the type of appreciation and relationship with our customers that I have today had we not gone through this tumultuous period.
SO get out there, get busy and own the moment! You are going to make mistakes, learn from them and have no regrets! Be humble enough to admit your ‘learning experience’ and courageous enough to take responsibility. I’ve learned more over the last 2 years then I have since 1995. A change in perspective on ‘learning experiences’ has been a major life changing experience for myself in terms of personal growth…
Happy Friday Everyone and a BIG welcome to our contributing bloggers Christine and Megan !
“I am glad that I paid so little attention to good advice; had I abided by it I might have been saved from some of my most valuable mistakes.”
― Edna St. Vincent Millay
Yes, it’s March already! According to our design calendar, we should be working on developing new prototypes for the next collection. So how do we go about developing these beautiful pieces?
The first secret that we’ll reveal is that we develop our sketches by hand. It may seem antiquated in an age where computers can do almost anything, but somehow there is a personal, emotional connection with the work, a certain joy derived from the interaction of the hand and the mind. So we prefer to draw by hand on translucent paper and let the imagination run free, leaving intonations and traces of intentions that the patternmaker will then have to translate.
Once the sketches are ready, we scan them and finish specifying all the measurements by computer. Based on these files, the sample maker will develop a prototype in about two weeks. If we’re really lucky the process will stop there, with a perfect sample, but usually it takes a couple of corrections on each prototype to get the result that we want.
Comment développer un prototype – Est –ce que nous sommes déjà en Mars?
Et oui, nous sommes bien déjà Mars! Selon notre calendrier de conception, nous devrions être en train de travailler sur le développement de nouveaux prototypes pour la prochaine collection. C’est le temps de vraiment se plonger dans la conception des nouveaux styles!
Le premier secret, c’est que nous développons nos croquis à la main. Ça peut sembler archaïque à une époque où les ordinateurs peuvent faire presque n’importe quoi, mais quelque part ça créée un lien personnel et émotionnel avec le style; une certaine joie provient de l’interaction entre la main et l’esprit. Donc, nous préférons dessiner sur papier translucide et laisser courir notre imagination sur la page, laissant différentes intonations et traces de nos intentions que la modéliste aura alors à traduire.
Une fois que les croquis sont prêts, nous les numérisons et terminons de spécifier toutes les mesures par ordinateur. Sur la base de ces fichiers, la modéliste va développer un prototype en environ deux semaines. Si nous sommes chanceux, le processus s’arrête là, avec un échantillon parfait, mais habituellement il faut quelques corrections sur chaque prototype pour obtenir le résultat que nous voulons.
Do you ever wonder what goes on behind the scenes of a photoshoot here at MATT & NAT? I’ve got to tell you, it’s one of my favorite parts of the job. Working with our photographer April, whose open mind and critical eye allows us to get the shot we want every time by not letting an “it could pass” fly by the radar. A whole lot of retakes happen too! We will retake a single shot up to 10 times. We may be perfectionists but we enjoy it. A little manipulating & challenging goes a long way to get the right angle and lighting. Here’s a breakdown of a few key items at our last photoshoot.
1. Dina and I took a trip to Rona to see our favorite florist (we’ve become regulars now) to get plants for our shoot. We always wonder what the employees at Rona think of us quirky gals who walk in seasonally and wipe their store out with the rarest / bizarre looking plants. One of my favorites that we bought this time was our little banana plant! Here is our shopping cart!
2. Music, music music! We need to have some nice beats blaring to get our creative juices going, especially at 9 a.m!
3. A blow-dryer. Why you ask? It’s our little secret to get all the kinks and wrinkles out of our bags like a charm! Who would have thought?!
4. We have our occasional saw for when we need a few extra branches on set, we are lucky to be located in an office with trees all around it : )
5. Tea, coffee & snacks. Our favorite tea is Bengal spice at the moment, sooooo good!
Do you ever think about what it is that makes a style work? It is it the handle? The proportions? The size, the fabric, or the color? Is it a secret ingredient like a person’s love for the food they’re preparing?
Over the years, we’ve gotten pretty good at sitting down, looking at our sketches, deciding what bag will work with the line, putting aside the designs that are beautiful but don’t fit with our vision for MATT & NAT. Feedback is a crucial part of the process for a creative person, meant to help gain perspective, question and understand better what it is you’re trying to accomplish.
Last week, I was browsing through Lifehacker (I’m officially obsessed, more on that in another post… it has nothing to do with computer hacking) and I came across this video about receiving and giving criticism from Scott Berkun. Scott is an author that writes about ideas and how they work, and I’ve just recently picked up his book Mindfire: Big ideas for curious minds. I thought that I would share his invaluable advice for designers (or any creatives really) and the people giving them feedback. I want to say that I wish I had seen this video years ago, but as my friend always tells me: timing is everything, and I may not have been ready to hear this advice back in the day.
How to give and receive criticism:
Partie 3: la revue des croquis.
Avez-vous déjà pensé à ce qui fait qu’un sac a du style? Est-ce la poignée? Les proportions? La taille, le tissu ou la couleur? Il y a t’il un ingrédient secret comme quand une personne cuisine avec amour?
Au fil des ans, nous nous sommes habitués aux meetings pour évaluer nos croquis, et il nous est devenu plus facile de savoir si un style est en ligne avec notre direction, et évident de mettre de côté les idées qui sont belles, mais ne cadrent pas avec notre vision de MATT & NAT. Le feedback est un élément crucial du processus pour une personne créative, destiné à aider à mettre les choses en perspective, à questionner et à mieux comprendre ce que vous essayez d’accomplir.
La semaine dernière, je surfais sur le site Lifehacker (je suis officiellement obsédée, plus de détails dans un autre post … ça n’a rien à voir avec le piratage informatique) et je suis tombée sur cette vidéo de Scott Berkun sur le feedback. Scott est un auteur qui écrit à propos des idées en général et comment elles fonctionnent. Je viens récemment de commencer à lire son livre intitulé Mindfire: De grandes idées pour les esprits curieux. Je voulais vraiment partager ces précieux conseils pour les designers (et tout les gens dans un domaine créatif en fait) et les gens en charge de leur donner du feedback. J’allais dire que j’aurais aimé avoir vu cette vidéo à mes débuts, mais comme mon ami me dit toujours: le timing est important pour ce genre de chose, et je n’aurais peut être pas été prête à entendre ces conseils à l’époque.
Voici comment donner et recevoir des critiques:
Part 2 of our weekly post about the design process: get your sketch on!
The design process of new styles begins where we left off last week, having picked our colors and materials for the season (because it’s always good to know what palette you get to play with). We used to travel for a few days every season, getting inspired by walking endlessly, soaking in the architecture, the people, the art exhibits. These days though, we like to reduce the noise from the outside world—and our carbon footprint at the same time—really focusing on our vision for the aesthetic of the brand (linear! powerful! functional!) and imagining what bags we would want to carry. Sometimes that means isolating ourselves for a few hours to sketch and get all the initial ideas out on paper, not thinking too much about construction yet, but just playing with the lines and proportions until we’re feeling it. We listen to lots of music in the process, the Velvet Underground, Beach House, and Pink Floyd are regulars on the playlist.
Next week if you want I’ll tell you how we once followed a Japanese dude around the Vancouver airport, mesmerized because he was carrying a satchel (a manbag?) in the perfect shade of green with just the right zipper detail.
Partie 2 de notre blog hebdomadaire sur le processus de conception: sortez vos croquis !
Le processus de conception de nouveaux styles commence là où nous nous étions arrêtés la semaine dernière, après avoir choisi nos couleurs et nos matériaux pour la collection (en effet, c’est toujours mieux savoir avec quoi on va travailler). Nous avions l’habitude de voyager quelques jours chaque saison, de marcher pendant des heures à travers une ville, s’imprégnant de l’architecture, des gens, de la culture. Ces jours-ci, on sent moins la nécessité de voyager. On préfère vraiment se concentrer sur l‘expression de notre vision artistique pour MATT & NAT, que l’on voit comme une ligne fonctionnelle avec des formes intéressantes, différentes mais toujours pratiques. Cela nous permet de réduire notre empreinte carbone en même temps! En termes pratiques, On s’isole pendant quelques heures pour esquisser et sortir toutes les idées initiales sur papier, sans se soucier trop des détails techniques de construction pour pouvoir être plus libres d’inventer de nouvelles formes. On trouve que la musique aide beaucoup la créativité, et entre le Velvet Underground, Beach House, et Pink Floyd, il y a toujours quelque chose qui joue sur notre iPod au bureau.
La semaine prochaine, si vous voulez, on vous raconte comment une fois on a suivi un gars japonais à travers tout l’aéroport de Vancouver, fascinés parce que son sac avait une nuance de vert parfaite.
Ever wanted to know how we go about designing our collections every season? Where we get the inspiration, how we choose our colors, or how we develop the samples? We’ve decided to launch a weekly Wednesday post that will give you more insight into our design process and into what goes on behind the scenes in our office.
These days, we’re already working on our Spring 14 collection. That’s right, we work the collections pretty much a full year in advance! The first step in our process is to decide what materials and colors will go in the line next year. We won’t lie, it’s one of the most fun aspects of the job, getting to research trends and be inspired by colors and the world around us. We look at a little bit of everything from trend reports and magazines to furniture and interior design. We also travel occasionally to visit cities like NY or London; traveling is always good for the soul and we like getting a sense of what’s out there. But in truth, picking colors for the season is based in a large part on instinct, and we are our own toughest clients sometimes. We pin color swatches on a cork board, we’ll take one down, put a new one up and keep adjusting until we’re satisfied that the palette is balanced, rich, and feels new to us.
Vous avez toujours voulu savoir comment nous concevons nos collections chaque saison? D’où vient notre inspiration, comment choisissons-nous les couleurs, ou la façon dont nous développons les échantillons? Nous avons décidé de lancer un post hebdomadaire chaque mercredi qui vous donnera une meilleure idée de notre processus de conception et de ce qui se passe dans les coulisses de notre bureau.
Ces jours-ci, nous travaillons déjà sur notre collection de printemps 14. Effectivement, nous travaillons les collections à peu près un an à l’avance! La première étape de notre processus est de décider quels matériaux et couleurs iront dans la ligne de l’année prochaine. C’est l’un des aspects les plus fun de la job, rechercher les tendances et se laisser inspirer par les couleurs et le monde qui nous entoure. Nous recherchons les tendances un peu partout : magazines, internet, et même la déco intérieure. Nous voyageons aussi occasionnellement pour visiter des villes comme New York ou Londres, voyager est bon pour s’ouvrir l’esprit et nous aimons avoir une idée de ce qui passe ailleurs. Mais en vérité, l’instinct joue une grande partie dans notre choix de couleurs, et nous sommes notre propre client le plus exigeant parfois. Nous plaçons les échantillons de couleur sur un mur en liège, puis nous enlevons une couleur, en rajoutons une autre, et ainsi de suite jusqu’à ce que nous soyons totalement satisfaits que la palette est équilibrée, riche et originale.
Just in time for the Holidays, we launched our exclusive Apple UK & US line. We had quite the fun photoshoot with our lovely photographer April. Collaborating , playing with lighting, angles & bouncing ideas off of one another, we got our creative juices flowin’. So much so that we punctured a hole in our backdrop… we got pretty creative to say the least! Here are a few behind the scene snap shots from the shoot.
Hey guys! Here’s a look inside Dina & I’s office. Dina is the director / designer / here at MATT & NAT, and myself, Sarah the quirky Marketing Coordinator. We share an office, and we often chat about our favorite music & lately we’ve been listening to a lot of grizzly bear. Whether it’s our morning beats (rap in the mornings get’s us goin’!) or chats about bags, culture, design & food, there’s always something fun happening. Currently, the sounds of construction trucks resonate outside our window. It seems like there’s always something we’re battling in our office. This summer it was the cold air conditioning system that made us jump every time it would go on. The air that was being pushed out of those vents was unbearable; we decided to attack it with pins & a cardboard box (see below for photo evidence). Luckily it was a success,with unfortunately our health being a little jeopardized in the process… A few colds after & many cold fx pills later we were able to overcome the bone chilling air conditioning system. I think we should start our own little comic book: MATT & NAT versus our 225 chabanel office, first issue Dina & Sarah… thoughts? Inder, we’re happy we’re moving. Who knows what we will have to battle next…stay tuned!
Tell us what you’d like to see inside our office and we’ll show you!
Our A/C battle… The construction outside our window!
A message from Inder
“I wrote the concept behind M&N as an exploration into the concept of duality. This last year I felt that it was time to present a symbol for M&N that represents living in a world where we can feel passionate about product but still be driven by that which can not be felt by the 5 senses….love. Design and responsibility do not need to be mutually exclusive, it is possible to look good, be good, feel good and do good without feeling like/being different people.
We are MATT & NAT, our values are love, authenticity and responsibility. We are inspired by the textures and hues of nature, we will do our best to protect.”