10 Oct Featured: Matt Allison
Previously a sound engineer and music producer with a background in graphic design, Matt Allison shifted his priorities around after his son was born, and is now making a name as a food and interiors blogger and an urban farmer, while being a stay-at-home dad. Matt often collaborates with other local creatives, and sees himself as a “facilitator” bringing together food, design and people.
Matt works from his Southern Suburbs home which serves as an excellent example of his interior design skills, and a base for his ongoing side projects. The home is mid-century modern, with most of the items thrifted or found. With Matt’s careful attention to detail, it’s probably the most stylish house in the South. ”It’s really been an ongoing, collaborative effort,” he explains.
These brass sconces are from the set of Mad Men. Matt bought the Masketeers ducks on Etsy, and finding a complete set of these 1960s American classics is pretty rare. He found the atomic clock online, and the lamp shade is was rebuilt by The Lampshade Studio, and covered with Skinny LaMinx’s fabric.
In 2011 Matt found a way to marry his love for design, food and blogging. He invited four creatives into his home, to ‘Curate this Space’. Lauren Fowler, Lucas Adams from Kraftisan, Neil Stemmet, and Nicole and Thaya from The Wild Creative were chosen to take part. Matt explains why he chose them here, but basically he found them inspiring, and wanted their creative energies in his house. The game was simple: they each got a shelve on Matt’s Cado ‘Royal System’ wall unit (80cm x 20cm), R600 budget and one month to come up with ideas.
On Sun 20th November 2011, they all met at the Matt’s home to decorate the shelves together, and share a meal, of course. Superstar chef Neill Anthony made lunch with produce grown in Matt’s garden.
“As if by some cosmic force, the unity running through the curations both in colours, textures and tones is nothing short of remarkable,” says Matt. Now his Cado ‘Royal System’ wall unit hosts the original Kraftisan Lunar Lamp, which Lucas named ‘Prototype 1′. Alongside the lamp is a Neil’s collection of a framed butterfly, a tortoise carapace and the entire collection of National Geographics from Matt’s birth year. Lauren added a hand-drawn sketch entitled ‘A study of owl jugs’, coincidentally Matt’s favorite animal. Thaya and Nicole included a selection of vintage medicinal bottles with terrariums and ceramic birds to complete the curation. The entire journey of ‘Curate this Space’ is documented here.
Matt also has an organic urban farm in his backyard, and 70% of the Allisons’ food is grown here. His urban farming has developed into a small food garden concept called 600×600, where he grows artisanal gardens for clients. He has also been contracting his services to various local eateries helping to source ethical suppliers or consulting them on growing their own food gardens.
Nathan, Matt’s son, has his own office in the other corner of the backyard, and it’ll make most creatives drool. Matt conceptualized it, his stepfather built it, and Thingking furnished it with a custom-built table.
Early in 2013, the annual Eat Out Festival Media launch was hosted in Matt’s garden. He designed and made some Seed bombs especially for the event. They’re basically clay, compost and seeds squashed into a ball. The idea is to throw it onto an empty plot or unused land, germinating a garden. Seed Bombs date back to Japan and the founder of the One Straw Revolution, Masanobu Fukuoka, but they were popularized by the Guerilla Gardening Movement. Matt’s bombs contained an edible mix of flowers, herbs and veggies, and here‘s the recipe he used.
Later in 2013, after attending an Arduino workshop in at Hackspace Hercules, presented by ThingKing consortium, Matt designed an installation of talking plants, which was exhibited at Let There Be Light Studios. Matt explains, “Each plant was turned into a sensor, that when touched, would communicate with a computer, via Arduino, generating synthesized speech. Touching all 4 in a consecutive pattern would generate the phrase ‘Please Water These Plants’.” Catch Matt’s blogpost on this project here.
Video by OneKCollection.
This Friday, 11 October, Matt is hosting one of the Secret Dinners, in build up to the Spier Secret Festival Conference. The Secret Dinners are all about mystery and excitement. You pick a host, book a ticket and get a secret address. On the night, a group of strangers arrive at the secret location to have dinner together. The hosts determine the concept, the menu and the venue, so each Secret Dinner promises to be a unique experience.
Follow Matt’s ‘Curate This Space’ blog here.