photos by Danielle Perelman
story by ashlyn mooney
Matt Hill wants you to touch his art. “The concept of design is really important to me,” says Matt. Combining striking visuals with ergonomic functionality, Matt creates spaces for people to use and move through.
It started with fashion design. “That’s where I got my artistic passion in high school,” says Matt. Inspired in part by the work of Tomas Meier, the Bottega Veneta creative director noted for his discerning textile selections and focus on leathers, knits and fine silks, Matt began to create his own pieces. He experimented with textures and materials to create striking, sculptural wearable art: a purple-toned rosette bodice assembled from the soft cotton of men’s t-shirts, a sequin and lycra print bodysuit, a red canvas and wire body sculpture with the sharp delicacy of origami. Like all of Matt’s work, his fashion pieces are made to be used and made to be touched, existing at that meeting place of functionality and aesthetic artistry.
Fashion led to photography; after Matt enrolled at Brown, photography led to film. “I would have my friends dress up, do elaborate and playful photo shoots,” remembers Matt, “and that became a process in itself. I started to fall in love with portraiture.” Photography was a natural outlet for Matt’s intensely visual, design-based practice, and his photographs are studies in texture and motion.
Still, even in photography, Matt continued to explore what he calls his “fixation with different textures and visual forms.” He preferred to work with film—“it’s a more tactile experience”—and manipulate his rough negatives: scratching them, experimenting with printing practices, exposing prints to different kinds of light. “Photography is a catalyst for other projects,” says Matt. Among those other projects were film installations; these interested Matt because they are inherently spatial, asking the viewer to interact and participate.
These days, Matt is still experimenting with texture and space, specifically in the practice of interior design. Interior design feels like a culmination of Matt’s broad accomplishments in fashion, photography and film: it allows him to combine the sculptural functionality of his clothing design with the visceral visuals of his photographs and videos. Plus, you can step right in and see for yourself. “It’s a spatial, experiential work. Tactile, textures, intense color and texture,” says Matt. “I want to make functional, meaningful, helpful spaces.”