Union - Meet The Designers, Cat Thorogood & Matthew Calvin
Introducing Union, the collaboration between Matthew Calvin and MAiK. With a shared ethos when it comes to responsibly sourced materials and working with factories that support and uplift their communities, and a love for all things geometric, when Matthew & Cat met through a mutual friend, it was clear that a collaboration between the two brands would be the perfect fit.
Combining Matthew & Cat’s shared love of simplicity, colourful prints and geometric shapes, the Union collaboration was born. Our combined collection of jewellery, prints, pouches and make-up bags have all been ethically made in London and Edinburgh, and feature classic Matthew Calvin shapes and mechanisms, with MAiK’s signature colourful, geometric style.
Matthew began designing jewellery in 2012, taking classes around Europe where he learnt a variety of different techniques and practices. The real breakthroughs came at home in Matthew’s East London studio, where the brand Matthew Calvin started to take form.
Creating jewellery for family, friends and husband Joseph, Matthew perfected his craft, experimenting with tools, materials and finishes. In 2015 he then set to work designing the first ranges, and the Matthew Calvin brand was born.
Cat Thorogood, maik
Born and raised in Scotland, Cat (founder of MAiK) moved to London to study at Camberwell College of Arts. After working in men’s streetwear, Cat soon decided to start a design-led brand who’s focus was sourcing responsible materials, and working with factories who support their local communities.
Since then MAiK has been creating sustainable homewares with their signature fresh colours and bold patterns. They’re committed to long-term relationships with suppliers, products that are built to last and an ever-evolving journey to the most sustainable way of living and working that they can find.
How did union come about? What made you want to collaborate?
Back at the beginning of 2019 I decided I wanted to reach out to some fellow designers to broaden the range of MC. I felt MAiK had something unique that our customers would like so reached out – we had a mutual connection which was LFA who handled both our PR’s at one point or another.
Matt reached out to me at the beginning of 2019 to see if I was interested in potentially collaborating. We had met a couple of times through Rosie of LFA but it wasn’t something we had talked about. I was blown away that he asked me as I have been a fan of his jewellery for a long time.
IS THIS THE FIRST TIME YOU’VE DONE A COLLABORATION WITH SOMEONE? HOW DID YOU BROACH WORKING TOGETHER?
This is the first collaboration we have worked on with another designer. It was a little daunting at first making sure we both understood what we wanted to get from it, but I think we very quickly felt comfortable working with each other.
It’s the first time I have collaborated with someone and I was very nervous. We exchanged quite a lot of emails before deciding to meet up and discuss it in person. We instantly had a great connection and we had the same goals and expectations for the project.
WHAT WAS THE COLLABORATION PROCESS?
We met and discussed what we both wanted to achieve from the collaboration. Working out how we could combine different products and create a range of products that were linked by a theme. We thought about shapes, colours, products and styles and decided on a geometric theme that had input from us both.
Matt came up to Edinburgh and we spent the day in my studio looking at the different products we made. It was clear from the beginning that geometric shapes would compliment both our brands. After that, Matt sent me a series of shapes and I started designing patterns. We bounced ideas and designs back and forth for several months really working together and giving each other honest feedback.
WHEN DESIGNING THE PRODUCTS FOR THE COLLECTION, WHAT WERE YOUR GOALS?
I wanted to make sure that we were designing jewellery that wasn’t too similar to pieces we have already. We have some bestselling styles and shapes that I go back to time and time again as I’m confident they work. I wanted to make sure that these pieces were noticeably different from our usual collections and clearly inspired by the collaborative elements.
I was excited to be pushed out of my comfort zone; Matt’s jewellery is minimalist and I wanted to be able to honour his strong style with MAiK’s geometric prints.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
I’m always inspired by travelling, something we haven’t been able to do much of this year unfortunately. Architecture and nature have always been sources I look to when designing, I really enjoy the variety in shapes of both and especially when combined.
Like Matt I am also inspired by travelling. I absolutely love tiles and Spain has to be one of my favourite places to go for inspiration.
"Architecture and nature have always been sources I look to when designing, I really enjoy the variety in shapes of both and especially when combined."
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE PIECE FROM THE COLLECTION & WHY?
I would have to choose the Union Circles Pouch, I’ve had one for a few weeks now and I love it. Big enough to fit a notebook in but not too big everything floats around. The Union Drop Earrings are my favourite piece of jewellery as I think they really capture the essence of our collaboration. Their shape is so simple but unique and vastly different to anything I have designed before.
I absolutely love the Union Dual Necklace, it is a really strong statement piece, simplicity at its best! The Union Circles Studs are also a favourite, I was really pleased how this shape translated over the fabric design.
UNION HAS BEEN MADE IN A VERY SUSTAINABLE WAY - IS THIS SOMETHING THAT’S IMPORTANT TO YOU?
Definitely. I would say that Cat is paving the way in showing how a small business can be ecologically friendly. We have always tried to do our best but working with her I have seen how simple steps can make great improvements – I am excited to implement these going forwards.
When I started MAiK in 2016 the main goal was to be an ethical and sustainable brand. I’ve really enjoyed showing Matt the steps I have taken to make MAiK as sustainable as possible.
"I was excited to be pushed out of my comfort zone; Matt’s jewellery is minimalist and I wanted to be able to honour his strong style with MAiK's geometric prints."
WE KNOW YOU’RE FRIENDS FIRST AND FOREMOST - HOW HAS THE PROCESS BEEN FOR YOU? HAS THERE BEEN ANY CONFLICT?
There hasn’t been at all – and I’m not just saying that. I think we have done surprisingly well to produce what we have, given what a year 2020 has been for everyone. Cat has also had a very special new arrival in this time so we have definitely all been pushed!
We have worked really well together and it has been a very open process. Matt has become a great friend and has been especially supportive in the final push to release the collection as I’ve had my hands full with my daughter who was born earlier this year. I think the only tough bit of the process is that we get on so well we can happily sit around for hours chatting when we should be working!
WHAT’S NEXT FOR BOTH MATTHEW CALVIN AND MAIK?
Working with MAiK has opened my eyes to a wider range of shapes and possibilities which I’ve really enjoyed. I’m working on a new range of jewellery that I hope to launch in the Spring next year. Who knows, perhaps another MC x MAiK collaboration could be in the pipeline!
While answering these questions I’ve had a great idea for another MAiK x Matthew Calvin collaboration….
2020 has been one hell of a year, and although the collaboration launch had to be postponed, we’re so excited to finally share it with you. We hope you enjoy it as much as we had fun designing it!