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Outsiders Profiles: Matt McKinney

Outsiders Profiles: Matt McKinney
20 July 2017

Hi Matt, you’ve got the big job of making the Outsiders Store shop idea a reality! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m originally from Suffolk and came to Manchester to study Interior Design back in 2000. Bury St Edmunds is a small town and I was keen to head off to a big city. I was drawn to Manchester for the music. Everyone knows what a rich musical history Manchester has, and I wanted to see it for myself, and experience live music regularly. There are not many bands that choose to add a Bury St Edmunds leg to their tours! Manchester isn’t just about the music though, it’s such a diverse, creative and passionate city.  It’s big enough to get lost in, but small enough to feel part of it. I’ve lived here longer than I’ve actually lived anywhere else, and so it really feels like home. Most of all I really love the people.

I was always good at art throughout school, so knew that I wanted to do something creative. At one point I wanted to be an architect, but my guidance tutors thought my maths skills weren’t up to it! So then I found myself going down the route of interior design. It was the best decision I ever made. Having spent 15 years as an Interior Designer with WDC Creative, I know that my strengths definitely lie in the more creative/conceptual aspects of my job, rather than the more technical side. I’m much more at home coming up with concepts and ideas, than doing staircase layouts! I’ve worked for WDC Creative since coming out of university in 2003. Our director Jason West came to our degree show, and liked my work enough to offer me a job. To start off with it was Jason and myself working from Jason’s house. But now the company is 10 staff members strong, and still growing. It’s been a really rewarding experience to be part of something that has grown to where we are at now.  We’ve worked on some really great brands and projects, all over the world.

Matt - Design

How did you come to be working on the Outsiders Store project?
WDC Creative is a multi-disciplinary design agency and we specialise in interior design, retail design and graphic design. We were brought in to work on the retail design scheme. I’m the designated interior designer on the project, tasked with coming up with a scheme for the store. There’s a team of other people involved in bringing the Outsiders Store vision to life, so we’ve worked closely with everyone, to come up with a store design that reflects all the ideas of the team. There’s always lots of energy and ideas at the start of any project, so one of my biggest roles is trying to harness that energy from people, and bring the ideas together into an overall concept that everyone can get behind. The guys involved are all really visual, creative people, so it’s been a really easy process of sharing ideas , responding to those ideas, and feeding it all back into the finished design. I’ve worked closely with Adam Russ in particular, spending a lot of time ensuring the store design fits in with the overall vision of the brand.

Matt - Creative Drawings

What did you reference / consider when approaching the brief?
The main reference points for the store design have come from the idea of nomadic furniture and the hippie counter culture that Adam speaks about in his blog piece. There’s a mentality attached to this which is about being part of something different and a focus on making/crafting things by hand. Obviously a store concept needs to be robust enough to stand up to the everyday task of being a store. So whilst we would love to make everything by hand (the way a counter culture community would do) not everything in a retail space can be made that way (well, it can be but it might well fall apart!), so certain elements such as the fixtures need to be built to last. The aesthetic and feel of the space clearly references these more primitive construction techniques, but we have given them a modern interpretation. I look at it as being as a kind of engineered-craft look. Where possible we are introducing hand-made techniques such as screen printed wall art, or some stools and rugs made from old climbing ropes.  It references the outdoors but not in a really obvious way. We want the space to feel clean, modern, light and airy so we’re using lots of pale timbers set against white walls, with a splash of colour from the wall art and smaller details throughout the space.

As an Outsider, what’s your favourite escape?
I enjoy riding my bike, so any opportunity to ride is an escape for me. There’s just something about being out on the road which takes you out of your head for a bit. It doesn’t have to be cycling up a mountain either, just getting out for 20 minutes here and there, is a great way to relax and connect with yourself, and your surroundings.

In terms of a physical place to escape; I love to travel, and have been lucky enough to travel to many places around the world. I don’t think I’ve been anywhere that I’ve not really enjoyed. It’s so exciting seeing all the different landscapes, cultures, food and people that make up our vast planet. But, I have to say, some of my favourite escapes have been in the UK. There are so many beautiful places to visit right on our doorstep. Last summer we travelled through Dorset and it was absolutely stunning. Hiking along the Jurassic coast around Lulworth Cove was pretty special.  I love camping too, so any opportunity to pitch a tent and get the BBQ out is a win in my book. A weeks camping in the Brecon Beacons, followed by the Greenman Festival is probably where I’m most happy.

Matt - Office

What are your 3 favourite brands?
Patagonia is a brand I really respect. I’m a big believer in sustainability and Patagonia are one of the brands that really do live and breathe it. This is a company who have applied sustainability to every part of their process right from the very beginning. Unlike the many brands out there that are playing catch up and jumping on the bandwagon. Don’t get me wrong, it’s the right wagon to be jumping on, it just amazes me how many brands there are out there that want us to believe they are now sustainable, even though they’ve spent years doing the exact opposite. It just doesn’t wash with me. You can see who are the ones doing it with passion and purpose, and Patagonia are definitely one of those brands.

I’m a big fan of Topo Designs. They have a great aesthetic that runs through everything they do. I love the colours they use, they’re really bright and fresh, but still have a grown up feel.

I own about 5 pairs of shoes/boots and they are all Clarks. That makes me sound like a super fanboy but I’ve just accumulated them over the years. My beeswax desert boots are probably the pick of the bunch.

Oh, and Origin68 which is my own sustainable clothing store that I work on in my spare time!

Anything else you’d like to share / words of wisdom?
It’s not my own words of wisdom, but here in our studio at WDC Creative we have Deiter Rams’ 10 commandments framed on the wall. His approach to his work has always resonated with me. Dieter Rams is a German industrial designer who was responsible for the design of Braun’s consumer products for many years, and has influenced a number of products which have filtered into our lives over the years.  In trying to answer the question “Is my design a good design?” which designers often ask of themselves, he developed the 10 principles of good design, sometimes also known as 10 commandments. Check them out for yourself