British furniture designer Matthew Hilton’s work manages to walk that very fine line between restraint and expressiveness. It’s probably why his designs, offering as they do a kind of reassurance, are so respected by so many. But the path hasn’t always been a smooth one, as Architonic discovered when we met up with Hilton at this year’s London Design Festival.
Those of you who like your music somewhat on the minimal side will probably know contemporary composer Steve Reich’s ‘Different Trains’, a hypnotic piece where a string quartet at times dovetails, at times spars melodically with sampled human voices, creating a multilayered, complex work that assails the listener with its repetitive insistence. It’s anything but easy listening.
‘Different Trains’ is also the working title for a new storage piece created by British designer Matthew Hilton, presented for the first time during the recent London Design Festival. While the unit also displays a certainly constructional complexity, it offers, as is typical of Hilton’s work with its consideration and emphasis on the well-made, an immediate sense of reassurance. And complex, at least in terms of personality, the designer himself is anything but. You’d be hard pushed to find a more friendly, more open person working in the design industry.
Simon Cowell met up with Hilton at the Tramshed, a pop-up exhibition space in London’s Hoxton/Shoreditch district, initiated by high-end Portuguese design brand De La Espada, where his new furniture designs, ‘Different Trains’ among them, were shown alongside recent work by, among others, Ilse Crawford, Autobahn and Leif.designpark. Here, Hilton spoke thoughtfully and candidly about past production difficulties, future creative challenges and why he finds buying a vacuum cleaner so problematic.
Do you like showing in these kinds of pop-up venues?
This is lovely, this one. I generally like showing my work. It’s nice to show the things you’ve been slaving away on. It’s part of the reward.
Why did you design these new pieces?
Well, we needed to have some storage in the collection. That’s the first reason. I haven’t got a name for the storage yet, though. I’m thinking about calling it ‘Different Trains’ after the Steve Reich composition. But maybe it’s too long a name.
What would the rationale be for calling it that?
Well, because these elements slide up and down rails. It’s a funny thing. It doesn’t describe the piece in a literal way. From that point of view, it’s not very good, I guess. But once a name sticks, it doesn’t really matter.
read the complete interview @ Architonic