Matthew Waldman: Why Good Design Is Rooted In Linguistics [PSFK 2014]

Matthew Waldman: Why Good Design Is Rooted In Linguistics [PSFK 2014]

The President and Chief Creative Officer of Nooka talks about his techno-progressivist design philosophy.

Aaron Sherinian, United Nations Foundation
  • 11 april 2014

In anticipation of his presentation at the PSFK CONFERENCE 2014 we spoke with Matthew Waldman, the President and Chief Creative Officer of fashion design company Nooka. His firm designs products in non-traditional formats, such as watches without numbers, following a universal language that guides the creation of products with enhanced functionality and a ‘techno-progressive’ philosophy.

Describe Nooka’s approach to telling time and how it differs from the standard method?

I have always envisioned a world where we all function as citizens of planet Earth. All of my design and brand work champions the concept of universal language with the goal of creating optimism for our shared future. This approach is expressed through watches that require no knowledge of base-12 math to read, or even knowledge of numbers – an alien or a 3 year old could figure them out.

How has your design philosophy evolved alongside current technology trends?

My philosophy has always been techno-progressivist – so change is built-in! In the late 90s, I wrote for a Japanese magazine about the dot com world in NYC and a common theme was convergence. We are only now seeing the real technological changes that are accelerating convergence in a way that will seriously impact product design, and mainly, there will be fewer and fewer things in people’s lives. This is not a problem for me as I approach design as an exercise in linguistics and I’m not invested in my designs being real, physical or conceptual.


What are the greatest challenges when trying to seamlessly integrate fashion and technology?

Mass production is always the challenge. Having production move to China is a huge challenge for small independent brands and designers, since the technology may be in a lab in Europe or the US and not in China. Or a new material may be too expensive for small runs.

Why is intention a key element of the design process?

Design is the opposite of an organic process – there is no design without a goal to articulate or a problem to solve. This is not to say that there are no unintentional outcomes resulting in design genius, but it is the good designer that is open to the unintentional who can integrate those events into an intentional process.

What’s one thing we can look forward to (without giving too much away) in your talk at PSFK CONFERENCE 2014?

That truly good design is rooted in linguistics and not aesthetics.

Thanks Matthew!

Check out our conference page to see more of innovative industry leaders who will be speaking at our event.

We hope to see you at there! Click below to buy tickets.


+fashion / apparel
+fitness / sport
+Matthew Waldman
+psfk 2014
+PSFK Conference

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