10 Questions: Plæy Workshop

We've loved seeing the colourful, modular furniture from Plaey pop up in all the right places around Yorkshire, and have now been lucky enough to chat to the man behind it all, Matt Kelly. In this instalment of 10 Questions, Matt talks to us about making 'the jump' into self-employment and importance of ACE branding!

What do you do?

I design and make Simple, Playful, Modular furniture. I’m based in Leeds and have a workshop space in Scott Hall Mills. I’ve been running Plæy full time now for just under a year. Projects have included working with Colours May Vary, Studio Build, Hepworth Wakefield, Trove, Belgrave Music Hall and North Bar to name a few.

What are you typically doing at 9am everyday?

I’ll have just arrived at the Plæy workshop. First things first I’ll pop the kettle on, put on some music - music is really important in the workshop, then sit down and make a plan for the day!

What makes your job easier?

Meeting, working and collaborating with interesting and inspiring people.

What makes your job harder?

All the stuff that comes along with running a business. I’ve always had a salary previously so it’s been a steep learning curve. It’s a constant balance of trying to spend my time designing and making, not on my computer doing admin stuff. But I guess the two come hand in hand.

Dream job title?

Architect. I always wanted to be an Architect and some days still do. I found the Maths side of things too hard at high school so changed to study Art instead, which took me down the Art and Design route.

What is the most overused word in your workday?

Ace! I use the word ace far too much, but I don’t think it’s a bad thing. Sometimes ace sums up so much!

Image credit Justin Slee

What misconceptions do you encounter working in your field?

No real misconceptions yet.

Any advice to those who want to do want you do?

Plaey started as a side project to my job. I started taking on projects and building up a style and client base while in the comfort of having a salary. As the projects started to grow, there was a tipping balance of how much I could do while also in full time employment. When it came to focusing on Plæy full time I had already made connections and had some foundations to step into.

What’s your career highlight?

In terms of Plæy - I think it’s been meeting and working with Build. I met Michael C Place through Instagram, we met up for a drink and agreed to do a skillswap - Build needed a new desk for their new Leeds studio and I needed some branding. I still can’t believe that my company has been branding by Build - I’ve been a fan of their work for years. Michael and Nicky got to the core of what I was trying to do with my furniture stuff and came up with the name Plæy, the identity, wordmark, icon and font. They also came up with three words that we agreed summed up Plaey’s values - Simple, Playful, Modular. This identity and framework has given me so much confidence and direction in what I do. It feels like being signed to a record label, we have plenty of more ideas of how to playfully push the branding of a furniture maker.

What makes your current job different to anything else you’ve done before?

Previous to running Plæy full time - I was the Gallery Manager at the Hepworth Wakefield. There is lots of transferable skills here, thinking creatively, working with like minded people, exhibition design, problem solving, delivering ambitious projects. The main difference is that I am in control of where I want to push Plæy - this is so liberating and feels, ummm... ace!

Thanks to Joanne Crawford for this great header image of Matt in his studio