If there is one conversation topic that sends Matthew McCormick into talking-with-his-hands territory, it’s his business.
Right now, he’s pointing to the left. “I live right there, and the very first light I ever made was in that parking lot over there—with some hand tools and a blowtorch—and that was for a restaurant just down the street,” he says. It’s an origin story McCormick has told before: the designer created his first light a stone’s throw from his Kitsilano apartment five years ago. Now he runs a successful eponymous lighting design studio, serving clients across North America and around the world.
As a trained graphic designer, his work has a geometric nature and takes inspiration from just about anything: Halo, for example, pays homage to Prosecco’s effervescence, with glowing rings that emulate rising bubbles; and Dawn is a web of brass posts hosting hand-blown glass bulbs, a concept sparked by an earring’s intricacy.
McCormick’s work is displayed around Vancouver in restaurants like Fable, Bauhaus, West Oak, and Earls, as well as at stores including Kit and Ace. The fixtures also work well in the home, adding a contemporary glow to living and dining rooms. The versatility of each piece’s minimalism could very well be what makes the lights so popular: they just fit, wherever they hang.
In his early days as a designer, McCormick worked to mould that now-distinct authorship. He wanted to come up with a product line, but ended up in the niche world of custom design, creating commercial installations. Over time, though, he developed his personal aesthetic, and people took notice. “We started getting calls like, ‘Hey, I like what you did over there, can I get 30 of those?’” he recalls. The studio has gained traction over the past two years in particular; being tapped by Italian gallery owner Rossana Orlandi, among other achievements, helped push McCormick into the international spotlight.
The former corporate creative director has been scaling up his business in order to take on larger projects and keep up with the rising demand. He partners with electricians, fabricators, glassblowers, photographers, and business coaches, gleaning their expertise as a perpetual student. “I’m not an electrical engineer, but because I’ve worked with them, I know what needs to be done,” he says. “I can either say, ‘This is what I need,’ or I can say, ‘This is what I want. How would you do it?’ It’s helped elevate what I’m capable of.”
It’s also been a point of pride. “I didn’t get into design to win awards, although they’re nice, don’t get me wrong. I did it to be better—to be a better designer, a better person,” says McCormick. And along the way, he discovered a craft that he loves to his core: “If anyone said, ‘What would you being doing if money wasn’t an obstacle?’ And I’m like, ‘This is it. I found it.’”