Matt S. Smith is the president and founder of smithHOUSE, a creative/digital agency based out of Phoenix, Arizona. Smith has a BS in Industrial Design from Georgia Tech and and an MBA from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. He is married and has four daughters and two sons.
Good design is expensive. The only thing more expensive is bad design.
We are in constant churn. As a society, we create new problems and we have to find new solutions. As a studio, we ultimately solve problems for people. We like to think that with the work that we do each day, we make the world a better place.
Having said that, don’t be fooled into thinking that a complicated problem needs a complicated solution. Simple solutions, when you find them, are gold. This is what we want to bring to clients: simple solutions to complicated problems.
Being original isn’t worth your time. It’s a strange kind of narcissism that you see with creative types–that we want to be seen as original, uninfluenced by the world around us. But that desire is exhausting and rarely productive. Just do good work.
I can’t explain it. But Charles and Ray Eames defined cool. Do you think that they fretted over being original? Of course not. They just did great work and we’re better because of it.
Why should designers stay put? One of my college professors was displeased with Frank Gehry leaving architecture and stepping into industrial design. Sure, the Michael Graves tea kettle at Target was silly and the toaster was bloated, but to say that Michael Graves didn’t belong in industrial design is to say that Bo Jackson didn’t belong in football. If you have a gift, why not do it all?
With Smith House, we do web, mobile, and branding. But at the end of the day, I am designing furniture and making toys for my daughters. Makers gotta make.
The thought a hoverboard kept me up at night as a kid. I hope that I can ride one in my lifetime, and when that moment comes, I hope that it’s as fun as I dreamed.
I don’t waste my time trying to makes sense of Modern Art. Here we are in the fifth decade since we were first liberated from the rules of art, and no one can agree if this is a good thing or not. We mostly just ignore Modern Art until someone brings it up, and that rarely happens. Talk about design, and now you have something that matters to people. Because design is about solving problems. Form meets function and the world gets better. This is where I belong.
My dream car? That’s not a fair question. I have a dream garage: 1972 C-10 Cheyenne Super, a late 1980s Porsche 911 Turbo, and a whole bunch of VW buses. I have a big family you know.
It was fun to be a part of MTV in its golden era. Recently I went back home to visit my parents and my mom played some old VHS tapes of when I was on The Real World: New Orleans and the Road Rules Challenge: The Gauntlet. My oldest daughter, 4-years old at the time, met me in the kitchen and gave me a big hug as she cried. She sobbed and explained that it hurt her feelings that I was voted off the show. Being a dad is so much cooler than being an MTV reality star.
Yes, I did deliver a baby. My second daughter–on the side of the freeway.
Mother Teresa had a way with words. She said so much with so little. My favorite quote: “Live simply so that others may simply live.”
The perfect buy at the perfect time? Those only exist in hindsight. It’s buying into Apple around 2004, or buying up city blocks of NYC during the 1980s. It’s always a matter of looking at the data, paying attention to momentum in the marketplace, and then placing your bet. It’s always a gamble.
New York was different. It’s the only city that I’ve lived in where the #1 drama is your relationship with the city itself. It’s the one thing that everyone in NYC has in common–you’re all in a very complicated relationship.