Scholarship Recipient Profile: Matthew Plumstead ’08

How did you choose MCAD?

Matthew Plumstead: I’d gone to school for painting many years ago. I worked for a software company and I painted on the side. I became interested in architecture and felt like I should go back to school, to MCAD, for the 3D furniture design program, learn how to build things, and go from there.

What were the highlights of your experience at MCAD?

I really fell in love with the form of furniture and so I threw myself into it. There was a Room & Board competition to build an outdoor lounge chair, and I won that. It was an affirmative nod that encouraged me to keep going.

How did scholarships make a difference in your life?

Designing furniture is expensive, in terms of materials and finishing and all these components, so having a little extra cushion allowed me to spend more on my projects, which then resulted in a solid portfolio. The portfolio I took away from MCAD got me to grad school at Cranbrook in Michigan, where I studied 3D design.


Clip Tree

Matthew Plumstead, Clip Tree, maple wood, ABS, mirrored acrylic


What are you working on now, and how would you describe your creative vision?

I have my own studio called McCarty Quinn. I’m a design consultant. Formally what excites me is developing a visual logic that is driven by geometry and then simplifying that geometry as much as possible. That’s what drives me—to get to that point where I go, “Aha, that’s what I was looking for,” and the market then will support it or say I’m crazy. I really like working with companies that have socially driven motivations. I did some work with Herman Miller, which is a dream come true job for me.

You raised more than $64,000 to fully fund your project Clip Tree, an elegantly-designed configurable valet, on Kickstarter. Tell us about it.

I took a project out of grad school and raised a bunch of money and ultimately manufactured it myself. I had a design contact at Umbra who wanted to talk about taking it over, so that’s what I did. Now it’s in the Container Store and they’re going to expand it into global markets.

How does MCAD look in the rearview mirror?

I worked extremely hard to the point of utter exhaustion day in and day out, but I loved what I was doing and couldn’t get enough of it. I was there with like-minded crazy people—kindred spirits. I was able to experience digging deep into a project. You don’t really know the limitations of something until you try it, so MCAD taught me how to fail. I established a basis of exploration from that and built off of it. I’ve done some teaching at MCAD since graduating, so it’s been nice to give back.


Matthew Plumstead, Integrated Workstation