Architects Talking to Architects: Matthew Faulkner, AIA

Matthew Faulkner, AIA, recieved his Masters of Architecture from Texas A&M University. He continues to work in Bryan, where he has founded PACT Design Studio

Matthew Faulkner, AIA – photo courtesy Ari Jones Photography

Investigating a shop wood study – photo courtesy PACT Design Studio

If you were not an architect, what other profession would you have pursued?

If I were not an architect, I would be designing and building furniture full-time. I’ve been woodworking since I was a kid. My grandfather was a cabinet maker, and my dad was a carpenter — I was born into this kind of thing. 

We started PACT Design Studio with a belief and knowledge that we can be better architects by having better understanding of materials. We have a woodworking shop where we play with and study various materials, and we find that these studies inform or enhance our architecture. Whether we're working with weathered cedar fence boards salvaged from a curbside garbage pile, reclaimed 100-plus-year-old pine boards, or manufactured, off-the-shelf materials, our goal is to learn how to manipulate these materials in specific ways. From there, we hope to develop unique processes and enhance/exploit the inherent qualities of these materials. 

Oftentimes, our studies initially result in some sort of architectural element, like a small sculpture or wall panel. I enjoy examining and evaluating these results by translating these ideas into more tangible products, or a piece of furniture, such as a shelf, bench, table, or lamp. Though it’s not full-time, I love being able to integrate this into my everyday.

Reclaimed pine wood studies series – photo courtesy PACT Design Studio

Pen, pencil or computer?

My default design medium is a roll of trace and a gray sign pen. A fresh-out-of-the-plastic sign pen is always the best. I’m working on integrating my iPad with a quality stylus to add into the mix. The Adonit Jot Pro is currently my favorite stylus for sketching and taking notes. I would also add “dry-erase marker” to the list. Some of the best design sessions I’ve been a part of have involved sketching while standing at a very large, magnetic dry-erase surface. Working at the larger scale can really help me break through some of the more stubborn design speed bumps.

Reclaimed cedar fence wall panel formed after determing the material characteristic from the initial studies – photo courtesy PACT Design Studio 

What sort of music do you like to listen to?

If I’m working in the shop, something with some energy, like Fitz and The Tantrums, Nick Waterhouse, Fun., Bob Schneider, or even some Jay-Z now and then. If I’m working in the office, it depends on the energy of the project. It can range from Vampire Weekend to Sleeping At Last to One Republic to Patty Griffin. If I’m getting the business side caught up in Quickbooks, the steady sound of my head beating against the wall normally suffices.

If I’m driving the kids to school or at home…Who am I kidding? My two daughters, 4 and 6 years old, take over with their “Kid’s List.”  Though they have some great music choices, like Adele and Vampire Weekend. If you ever see One Direction, "Call Me Maybe," or some Disney Princess theme song show up in my Spotify feed, they’ve taken over!

What kind of music do you listen to when designing?

When I’m designing, I enjoy listening to something with a subtle, steady energy. Lately, I have found myself working to albums like "Boracay Planet" by Blackbird Blackbird, "Atlas" by Sleeping at Last, or even the occasional classical piano like Emmanuel Ax. Did I mention I listen to A LOT of music?

Earlier material studies and small furniture pieces often inspire projects, such as this TexAgs project – photo courtesy PACT Studio Design

Where do you find inspiration?

I am fascinated by pop culture — the way it informs so much of the designs we encounter every day. Keeping a pulse on the current trends in pop culture helps keep me better informed about our clients. Whether directly or indirectly, for better or worse, every one of our clients are exposed to and influenced by pop culture.

What is your favorite time of year?

I’m not a huge sports guy; however, I am an Aggie living life in College Station. I can’t help but get pretty excited for college football season in the fall. Also, if I’m being completely honest, in true Ted Mosby-esque fashion, I am an architect that enjoys wearing sweaters.

"Architects Talking to Architects" is a column on the Texas Society of Architects blog that spotlights members from across the state at different points of development in their career. All participants are given the same set of questions with instructions to answer any six, giving them the opportunity to highlight the items they feel are most interesting. Have someone you'd like to see featured in "Architects Talking to Architects?" Email to let us know!