In Good Company: Matthew Patrick Smyth
Mention Matthew Patrick Smyth in conversation and everyone will remark about his warm, genteel, and generous nature.
Expert at the interweaving of European and American traditions, Michael Patrick Smyth’s rooms hold art, architecture and design as the sacred trinity. Another threesome, which intrigues Matthew, is his homes in Paris, Connecticut and New York City, seen in several of the photos below.
I first became enamored by Matthew Patrick Smyth’s work, when I saw his dining room at the Hampton Designer Show house at Villa Maria, in Watermill, NY. See Heather Clawson’s photos and story of his current room, at the 2011 Kips Bay Show House here.
I have run into, the always sharply dressed Matthew, in the streets of Paris and have broken bread with him, but I really got to know him through reading his terrific new book, Living Traditions: Interiors by Matthew Patrick Smyth, by Monacelli Press. With a wonderfully honest introduction, the book with principal photography by John Gruen, reads like a short story. In the book, he says, “Much of interior design is about saying yes while saying no-or, more accurately, narrowing down the options.” This curatorial approach is why Matthew Patrick Smyth is the lexicon of design grace.
Enjoy The Good Company of Matthew Patrick Smyth.
D: Biggest thrill in your life?
MPS: When I got my first apartment in NYC. It was a six floor walk-up studio, for $200 a month. I was thrilled!
D: Critical moment in a designer’s life?
MPS: When you realize you have made the right career move.
D: If you were not an Interior Designer, what profession would you like to explore?
MPS: I would be a grade school art teacher. Perhaps, I will someday.
D: What can someone do to grab your attention?
MPS: Show me a sincere smile.
D: What design lesson did you learn the hard way?
MPS: Measure and re-measure.
D: What does Design mean to you?
MPS: That which makes life, both functional and beautiful.
D: What is your idea of the perfect weekend?
MPS: Thursday night flight to Paris.
D: What is your signature look or signature quality of your life and work?
MPS: Thought out and appropriate for the client and space.
D: What is your working studio like?
MPS: It can range from being terribly neat to a terrible mess and back again. I prefer the neat end but….
D: What makes you feel most empowered?
MPS: My car parked downstairs and ready to go.
D: What methodology do you use to begin your work?
MPS: First things first. It’s easy for me to get distracted, so I have to work at it.
D: Where did your creative journey begin?
MPS: When I transferred schools in third grade, we were given a coloring exercise. When the nun collected them, she held mine up and asked who did it. I thought I was in trouble! However, to her, it was the best. This moment started my new identity of being able to draw and color. I always drew, but up to that point, I had assumed everyone did.
D: Who are your current Design Icons?
MPS: David Easton and believe it or not… Philippe Starck.
D: Words to live by?
MPS: Whatever floats your boat!
D: Favorite charity?
MPS: Kips Bay Boys and Girls Club.
Photographs used by permission, copyright © Matthew Patrick Smyth.