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An Interview with Matthew Sullivan of Al Que Quiere

Last week I wrote that I was preparing an interview with Matthew Sullivan of Al Que Quiere – the LA-based design collective with its own unique vision. I had previously read an interview with Matthew in Veine Magazine and was fascinated by what this man had to say. There is still so much I want to learn about design and so I was very grateful that Matthew took the time to answer three follow-up questions for Interiorator.

When I look at your designs, I notice that you seem to be influenced by Memphis Design and Greek columns. How did you develop your own aesthetics? And how are they developing?

The answer at the broadest point is two pronged. I have a functional attempt with AQQ furniture and a thematic one.

The functional intention has nothing to do with ergonomics, that is the chair or table or whatever, just needs to function well-enough at its particular operation (seating, storage, work surface) but there is no emphasis on high performance (alleviating muscle fatigue, utilization of new ultra-durable materials, etc.).  I think those particular considerations are, for the most part, just base-line bait for a consumer cycle. My idea of function is that the aesthetic details of the pieces speak to many architectural envelopes or styles of interiors as is possible, whilst retaining a certain artful autonomy. Although much so-called Post-Modernist material was fond of a simultaneity of a period detail, the pieces can be a little bold or even ill-tempered when it comes to an end situation, that is when installed. I draw a lot of inspiration from Italian design from the 1940s through the early 1970s (Gio Ponti, Piero Fornasetti, Ignacio Gardella, Vico Magistretti, Ico Parisi). Even though, in each decade, they were equally at the fore of the technical and aesthetic gardes, they often had to pay some sort of lip-service to older living environs, due to the limitation of space and age of housing. For where we are at as a culture, right now, I find this type of discourse with past infinitely more interesting and truthful, than say the Eames’ and George Nelsons who were making furniture, in their minds anyway, for a yet to come modern civilization. As a total aside I think it important to state that Charles Eames was thoroughly amazing and fascinating, I just think his films and exhibitions more relevant than his furniture and architecture.

The thematic intention of AQQ furniture is very much in accord with what is typically associated with late ’70s and early ’80s Post-Modernism. It is too much for me to go into here but I will say that the likes of Robert Venturi, Ettore Sottsass, Dan Friedman, Gaetano Pesce, Alessandro Mendini, et al, ended and started a dialogue that has yet to be fully absorbed and addressed in 2013. I am very much attempting to keep this discourse active and alive.

How are you influenced by what other contemporary designers are doing at the moment?

Being that I feel a bit of discord with the avenues in which Design and Designer’s seminate their product, I try not to think about them too much, for fear of being caught in a binary or codependency or inter defining relation. That is I really, really don’t want to be a polemicist of Design or furniture, but want to have a strong point of view and a genuine contribution. When one feels something to be wrong is very easy to get caught up in an argument, that is a situation where winning and converting are the end goals. I will just say that I don’t share a lot of the overt goals of the Design community.

What would an AQQ Design furniture line for IKEA or Target look like?

I would very much like to partake in a project for any mass-mass-market outfit, to the degree in which the host would allow AQQ to transcend the process. I wouldn’t be interested in developing a new look per se, one’s preferences, scope and ability are the same wherever you go, and I certainly don’t think that design improves lives, so the importance of reaching more people is dicy girding for a project, but setting up a transparent dialogue with a large-scale manufacturer would be interesting. As well having access to production techniques that my piddly budgets couldn’t dream of engaging on their own, would be something.

Al Que Quiere


Oak and marble (20″ x 20″ x 17 1/2″)

Al Que Quiere

Maple and marble (28″ x 48″ x 18.5″)


Oak, marble and aluminum (16 1/2″ x 48 1/2″ x 45 1/2″)


Oak and maple (14″ x 16 1/2″ x 18 1/2″)


Oak and felt (25″ x 28 1/2″ x 28 1/2″)


Oak (18″ x 15″ x 32″)


Walnut (20″ x 20″ x 17 1/2″)


Oak and aluminum (6″ x 6″ x 9 1/4″)


Oak and aluminum (10 3/4″ 10 3/4″ x 9″)


Oak (9 1/2″ x 9 1/2″ x 11″)


Oak and aluminum 6 3/4″ x 6 3/4″ x 12 1/2″)


Alder, paper and wire (10″ x 10″ x 15″)


Alder and found plastic bowl (10 3/4″ x 10 3/4″ x 8″)



Marble and found plastic bowl (5 1/4″ x 5 1/4″ x 4″)


Aluminum (4″ x 4″ x 5.5″)


Aluminum (4″ x 4″ x 5 1/2″)



Pink Beam poster


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