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Inspiration Profile - Kirsten Matthew

It's the end of another busy week and we have a great Inspiration Profile for you today. Say hello to Kirsten Matthew, editor of Urbis magazine. She'll be a busy lady this weekend with the Urbis Designday so I hope all you Auckland readers are checking it out and for the rest of us in New Zealand, we can read the new issue out this weekend. Enjoy!




Urbis magazine Issue 73 - out this weekend

Name: Kirsten Matthew

What do you do: I’ve been a writer and editor for 15 years and the editor of Urbis for six months.
Where do you live: Auckland, New Zealand.
What are you working on: I’m working on the editorial line-up for our June/July issue, which will be dedicated to small spaces – apartments, baches and cabins. At this stage in the process I’m juggling the organisation of photo shoots, assigning writers to stories, editing copy and thinking about potential covers.

Photo: Emma-Jane Hetherington



Who/what inspires me: I’m inspired by people – artists, makers, dancers, chefs and designers – that are going against the grain and trying to do something special and different in a world that makes it increasingly difficult to be an artist. My friends, who have great taste, big hearts and inappropriate senses of humour, inspire me too, as do my parents, who are into working really hard and getting nothing for free.
I work best: First thing in the morning, before I do anything else. If I get to the computer and do even 15 minutes of work as soon as I wake up, I can take a break and know I can come back to it  any time. But if work isn’t the first thing I do, it’s really difficult for me to settle down to business. I’m hopeless at working at night; my wheels fall off by about 6.30pm.
What I do when I’m stuck for inspiration: When I lived in New York (I was there for 10 years before moving home six months ago) I’d step out onto the street and pound the pavements, take a wander through the art galleries of Chelsea, or spend the afternoon at a museum or a movie. Nowadays I walk down under the harbour bridge and around Auckland’s waterfront with some ’70s disco on my iPod. Or make a cup of tea and start rifling through the pile of interiors’ magazines on my table.
The best advice I have been given is: Twice in my career I’ve been told off by bosses for being too self-deprecating. The second time, my boss at American InStyle explained to me that people are far too busy to think about what I’ve done or haven’t done and suggested I stop being a wallflower and start promoting myself. It’s a very non-New Zealand thing, self-promotion, but since then I’ve become better at saying, ‘I can do that’, and, ‘I’m good at this’, and my career has prospered because of it.

Photo: Scott Burrows


Photo: Klaus Vyhnalek

My latest discovery is: I’ve just rediscovered Grey Gardens. I must have seen it almost a dozen times over the past 10 years and I always get something new out of watching it. It’s a documentary, made in the ’70s, about Little Edie and Big Edie Beale, a mother-daughter duo living in squalor in the Hamptons, New York, despite their socialite upbringing. They are completely bonkers and so inspirational that I came away from my last viewing determined to integrate some of their ways into my life. I think I’ll steer clear of sharing the house with masses of cats and raccoons and eating only ice cream and paté, but I will take fashion inspiration from Little Edie and her genius outfits created out of curtains and towels and pay more attention to the lyrics of show tunes.

Books that I get inspiration from: Although I read lots of novels and really enjoy them, nothing beats a great biography. There is no film script or piece of fiction in the world as interesting to me as a real life story. I’m mad about anything written by or about the Mitford Girls, who are super-inspiring in the way they lived their lives (except perhaps, for the one that became a Nazi). And I love a good media-person biography; My Paper Chase, the Harold Evans memoir was a recent read and Grace, Vogue creative director Grace Coddington’s memoir, is next.
Magazines that inspire me: I like magazines that are artful, clever and that have a very strong sense of what they are. I read all sorts of magazines for all sorts of reasons. When I need inspiration in the craft of writing it’s the New Yorker, Vanity Fair (the serious features, not the silly celeb profiles), T, which is the New York Times’ Sunday magazine and New York magazine. I hate shopping but adore fashion, so when it comes to clothes, I’m inspired by Vogue, where the clothes are treated like pieces of art. For inspiration related to my job, I look to Belle, Elle Décor, Habitus and the much-missed American home magazine Domino.
Blogs that I enjoy: I’m not a great follower of blogs, in fact I hardly ever look at them for work-related things, but I follow overseas friends on their blogs and dip in and out of Dlisted, Internet K Hole, Girls of a Certain Age and The Selby.


My favourite room at home is: My bedroom. I am really big on sleeping – early nights, disco naps on the weekend etc. I also am not a TV watcher, so if it’s dark and I’m at home, I’m in bed reading or sleeping. And if it’s early in the morning, I’m in bed working. My bedroom is also home to the things that mean the most to me: a tapestry my grandmother made; a cushion a far-away friend had made for me from French antique linen; my jewellery box filled with family pieces.
My office is: At home, my office is my bed or the dining room table, an old antique door fashioned into a tabletop that is adorned with a candelabra from Paris and usually a vase of pink flowers. At the Urbis offices, it’s a desk in the middle of a big, noisy room filled with people that I am glad to see every day.
What am I looking forward to: I’m looking forward to tomorrow, which is Urbis Designday, the magazine’s annual day of events in showrooms all over Auckland. I’ve never been to an Urbis Designday before, but I’m excited to see what it’s like, what the showrooms produce with their creative partners, and to catch up with everyone in the industry. It’s been a lot of work for the Urbis team, so once it’s over I’ll be looking forward to a cup of tea and a lie down.

Thank you Kirsten. If you want to keep up to date with Urbis magazine - check out their website  here and Kirsten Matthew is on Twitter - you can follow her here.

Photo: Namgoong Sun

All photographs are used with permission from Kirsten Matthew and Urbis.