When you begin to list the names of American designers whose careers have been launched in part by Jamie Gray of Matter – and the in-house furniture line he started in 2010 – it reads like a who’s who of the current scene: Jonah Takagi, Paul Loebach, Meg Callahan, Jonathan Nesci, not to mention Andy Coolquitt, the Austin-based fine artist who’d never designed a proper piece of furniture before Gray came calling.
Gray also launched the first production line by interior designers Roman & Williams. But none of those people would have worked with Gray in the first place if he hadn’t been quietly building up, since 2003, one of the best-curated furniture stores in New York City. Gray, who started out as a midcentury dealer in Seattle but moved to New York to attend design school, opened the first incarnation of Matter in Brooklyn’s Park Slope.
Over the years, the shop moved from Brooklyn-made furniture and accessories to fashionable European imports – and moved physically as well, to a more sophisticated space in downtown Manhattan. But the store began to truly, well, matter, when Gray launched Mattermade.
Here was a powerhouse furniture collection, made in America by Americans—a rarity back then, though something that’s happily becoming more commonplace. The difference is that Matter made feels like it couldn’t have been made anywhere else, with its designs that often reference East Coast vernaculars like Shaker and Windsor.
“I was just in Los Angeles trying to imagine the collection there, and I was having a hard time,” says Gray. “It was never meant to be specifically New York, but I would say it is inherently, because that’s where the conversations began.”