If you’ve ever wanted to live in a literal concrete jungle, Andy Matsinos and Paul Denovan are your guys. The Melbourne based duo combine their creative and technical skills to create gorgeous handmade homewares. I caught up with Andy for a chat about inspiration, collaboration and concrete.
“Made by Flint was born from a desire to make something tangible with our hands,” Andy says. “When we decided to start this adventure, we were both working desk jobs that left us a bit creatively starved. We had bought a few cacti and succulents and wanted some cool planters to put them in but [we] didn’t want to just buy terracotta pots. We’re both pretty creative people, and so we decided to play around with concrete. It all kind of snowballed from there!”
Andy says much of the inspiration for Made by Flint pieces is drawn from nature and natural rock formations. “When we first started we just mocked up a few 3D angular shapes that we’d researched,” Andy explains. “From there we kind of started to take inspiration from understated geometric design, and also from nature, as all of our planters are named after various rocks and geological formations. We like to use the concrete for what it is, trying not to push it too much into something that it’s not.
“We’re always thinking about new shapes and designs to make; sometimes we’ll see something that gives us inspiration straight away and we have a finished idea, and sometimes we develop a shape for a while before we’re happy with it.”
The next step is to develop the physical mould, Andy continues: “Concrete is so versatile if you have a mould to pour it into. We design and make the angular moulds ourselves, and it’s given us quite a lot of creative freedom to experiment with different forms. It’s such an interesting medium to work with; you never really know how the surface finish is going to look once it comes out of the mould, which is always exciting because it means that each piece is unique.”
After the mould has been poured, Andy describes the final stages: “Let it cure, dry it out, sand off any rough edges, and finally seal and paint.” From the pouring of the concrete to the finished product, the process takes around two weeks.
Differences of opinion in creative collaboration can be challenging, but Andy notes that it’s natural, and that the benefits outweigh any trials. “It can always be a challenge working with someone else… however being able to bounce ideas off another person who shares a similar creative mindset is incredibly beneficial. We find that creating and developing concepts together works far better than if we were trying to make it happen solo. There’s so much work involved with the products that we make, it would never get done with just one person.”
I ask Andy if he and Paul have favourite pieces they have created: “Talking about differing opinions, we each have a different favourite. Caldera is one, the largest angular piece which is striking and unique. The other is Atlas, our fruit bowl and large planter.”
Made by Flint recently made its first foray into the public eye with a stall at the Melbourne Finders Keepers design markets, and Andy cites it as an incredible experience. “We were a little nervous…we were not sure how they were going to be received. It’s a strange feeling having people look over things you have worked hard to create and we felt a little vulnerable at the start but the positive feedback we got blew us away. After working so hard to get ready for the market and spending many late nights mixing concrete it was all worth it!”
Making the leap from ‘creative hobby’ to ‘job’ can be a tough one, and Andy compares it to a whirlwind. “[It] has been a steep learning curve for us, as the hobby that we’ve been working on for so long has grown pretty quickly into something that’s gained a lot of interest and is turning into a more full time project,” he says. “It’s something that once you’re in the middle of it all you just have to switch on and take the bull by the horns. We’ve kept each other sane and grounded I think; it’s good to have someone to work with for that reason.
“If there’s any advice we’d give it’s that if you want to make something happen, then be willing to work hard for it. It won’t happen overnight, but part of the reward is seeing an idea develop into something ‘concrete’.”
Andy says that they are not sure what the future holds for Made by Flint, but that they’re happily “riding the wave” for the moment. “We have some markets coming up before Christmas, and then a well-deserved break. We’ve got some ideas in the pipeline that we’ve been working on for the New Year, and a couple of projects that we’re excited about (but we can’t give too much away!). It’s a pretty crazy time for us, so watch this space!”
To see more of Andy & Paul’s work, visit their website.