With a major in Architecture from the High School of Art and Design in NYC, the young Matthew Waldman opted to freelance upon graduation instead of attending Harvard U for design.
Subsequently working as a creative for various design firms in Japan and the U.K., Waldman escaped the corporate box and launched Nooka, a watch brand that has received international acclaim. â€œThe linear and graphic representation of time with Nooka timepieces presents a more intuitive way to view time. The visual mass increases as time passes, giving weight to an ephemeral and abstract concept.â€
Positioning Nooka as a fashion brand rather than a watch or tech brand, Waldman has seen much success being featured in mass media and along the wrists of top celebrities.
With a dream to concept mobile phones, design a car dashboard, and rewrite the building code for residential high rises in NYC and design the perfect city apartment building, Waldman sits at the top of the list of designers to watch in 2009.
â€œPeople in Japan who donâ€™t know the brand story think the brand and designs are Scandinavian, people in Scandinavia think we are right out of Tokyo!â€
Format: Please state who you are and your role at Nooka.;
Matthew Waldman: Matthew Waldman, founder and chief creative officer of Nooka Inc. I oversee all of the creative development at Nooka.
Format: Tell us about the time in first grade math class.
Matthew Waldman: I think you are referring to my flashback to learning how to tell time in grade school which was part of a process when I was obsessing over intuitive design for my web design practice in 1997 or 1998. This memory formed part of the genesis of the first Nooka designs as I was struck by how few options there were for displaying the passage of time.
Format: How did your relationship come about with Seiko in 1999? Why did it end?
Matthew Waldman: I was introduced to Seiko by Tom Dixon. It was about a year after my design was out that Seiko shed all of their sub brands, including the very popular Spoon line of theirs! It didnâ€™t make any sense, but thatâ€™s how the cards were dealt. I then was talked into doing the line on my own â€“ scary at first but the best thing Iâ€™ve ever done both creatively and business-wise.
Format: Youâ€™ve noted that Nooka isnâ€™t a watch company, but a design brand. What other design products are in the works for Nooka?
Matthew Waldman: Iâ€™d love to give you a list, but would rather promise to give u a scoop when the new stuff is about to launch. I can tell you that none of it is timepiece related!
Format: Tell us about Berrymatch.
Matthew Waldman: Berrymatch is my other company, a small design studio that creates corporate identity systems and marketing materials. We design a few titles for Elffers books. It seems Berrymatch is busiest creating the marketing materials for Nooka.
Format: You instruct at Parsons and New School University in NYC. What is the one thing you hope your students will take away from a class with Matt Waldman?
Matthew Waldman: #1. Brainstorming skills, #2. Appreciation of Process and Narrative, #3. Some basic understanding of the entrepreneurial process for designers.
Format: Your marketing materials note that Nooka means â€œsleekâ€ in Hawaiian and â€œfuture is nowâ€ in ancient Amararunkâ€™thuh. What other brand names did you play with prior to selecting Nooka? Please describe the brand name selection process.
Matthew Waldman: [Those] are no longer part of the Nooka story as they were not part of the original naming process. I do believe â€œNookaâ€ means sleek in Hawaiian, (it means sunrise in Laotian too) but I created the Nooka name by exploring sounds that evoke a futuristic optimism. The sound Nu (noo, new) test as futuristic to a wide variety of people and cultures. Itâ€™s very much a designed name and also sounds like contracting â€œNew Yorkerâ€ with a local Brooklyn accent. So, itâ€™s a futuristic international/universal sounding brand name that is also an homage to my hometown.
Format: What is Nookaâ€™s relation to Osaka? How does the Japanese aesthetic relate to Nooka?
Matthew Waldman: Wow, you guys are really researching old stuff! I, at one time, wrote that Nooka is a contraction of New York and Osaka, but the answer to the question above is more accurate. That said, Iâ€™ve spent a bit of time in Osaka and love that city. People in Japan who donâ€™t know the brand story think the brand and designs are Scandinavian, people in Scandinavia think we are right out of Tokyo! I feel very incognito in NYC. My references and inspirations are actually not Japanese in origin though there is so much of Japanese design I love. So, no official relationship with Osaka though we do have a small office in Tokyo, another one of my favorite towns.
Format: Nooka collaborated with Hellz Bellz for limited edition timepieces for Holiday 2008. Tell us how this collabo came about. Were you happy with the outcome?
Matthew Waldman: We have one of the most amazing sales reps and she hooked us up with the Hellz Bellz team. They came up with some suggestions and provided custom art, which we applied to one of our zoo models. I am extremely happy with the outcome â€“ itâ€™s a very unique piece. I should point out some things about the Hellz collab most people donâ€™t know: Itâ€™s our heaviest watch, the artwork is silkscreened on a separate metal panel set behind the lens, itâ€™s currently the only 35 mm model with an IP balck metal mesh strap. Itâ€™s pretty masculine for our first collab with a womanâ€™s fashion brand!
Format: What other collabos are in the works?
Matthew Waldman: The Kid Robot collab came out the same month as Hellz Bellz. In 2009, weâ€™re gonna work with a few European design studios to grow interest in the brand over there. I can let you know once contracts are signed.
Format: What one designer or brand would you love to collaborate with and why? Please explain the product that you would create.
Matthew Waldman: Itâ€™d be great to work on apparel with someone like Yohji Yamamoto. He has such a long history of innovation without compromising wearability. Iâ€™d love to work on a line of menâ€™s shoes with Puma, they really have great quality and a track record for rolling out innovative materials. With or without a collabo arrangement, I think men get the short-end of the stick with footwear â€“ women have more fun choices.
Format: What does the future hold for Nooka?
Matthew Waldman: Continued success and growth as we successfully expand and grow our brand having fun all the way!