We had a chat with Matthew Leece, the selected Product Designer to take a part in Gerakan Kreabilitas Residency with our partner, Ketemu Project in Indonesia. Matthew is an emerging designer with experience in design and manufacture with a variety materials, and have an understanding of international market. He has also developed creative installations and public workshops.

A picture of Matthew Leece


How do you feel about being chosen to be a Resident with Ketemu Project in Indonesia?

I’m excited and equally nervous. All of the team I have spoken to have been great and I’m eager to meet everyone in person. It’s all come about quite quickly and it feels like a bit of a dream. I’ve not had too much time to think about it amongst rearranging my commitments here, booking flights and buying shorts!

For our reader who doesn’t know about you, could you tell us what kind of product designer you are and a bit about your background?

What kind of product designer am I? I guess I’m still trying to work that one out. I’m definitely not the kind that sits behind a computer all day, I love making things, my favourite time is spent experimenting, prototyping and building in the workshop.

I studied a bit of a weird course called 3D Design Idea Material Object it definitely wasn’t a straight up product design course, I saw it as more of a Venn diagram sitting somewhere between product design, fine art and craft. I chose to gain a base of experience in a wide range of materials processes and communication methods specialising in my particular way of working as opposed to a specific material of process.

My weird course has led to a bit of an odd combination of jobs. I work designing and making furniture from old aeroplane parts with a small company called Plane Industries, crafting architectural models and souvenirs in plaster with Timothy Richards and working with 5x5x5=Creativity: an arts-based action research organisation which supports children in their exploration and expression of ideas.


two people sanding a piece of metal in the plane industries workshop

Which of your products are you are most proud of?

Pushing the definition of ‘product’ but the highlight of my year is the annual Forest of Imagination Festival one of 5x5x5=Creativity main events of the year, which I have been working on since it began in 2014. Every year, an ever-growing team gets together to completely transform a familiar public place in the city of Bath, into an inclusive space for contemporary creativity and intuitive play, offering an immersive experience for participants through interactive installations, artworks and workshops.

This year the Forest was hosted by the Holburne Museum and adjacent Sydney Gardens for which I created a piece called BLab; a multi sensory learning environment taking you on a journey experiencing how a bee encounters the world. This is the product I’m most proud of because of the feedback we received, in particular one young person who came to visit with his school and enjoyed his experience so much that as soon as he got home he dragged his whole family back to come and experience for themselves.


People outdoor playing with installation called Drawing Machine

You have not been to South East Asia before, but what do you think Indonesia will be like?

I’m looking forward to finding out.

What are you expecting out of the residency? Or what do you think would happen whilst you are there?

I’m hoping to see windows into other perspectives, to find what’s normal is in another place and to gain inspiration from different solutions to familiar problems. But at this point I’m keeping myself open to anything. I’m expecting to meet four groups of amazing people with some great ideas for products that will welcome me to join them in developing their ideas towards a finished product that can be launched to an international audience. I also hope that as we visit a range of manufacturers to outsource some of the processes to put together a toolkit we can encourage them to make their businesses more inclusive.

What are you hoping to bring back to the UK after the residency?

While in Indonesia I hope to demonstrate a synthesis of all of my previous skills and experiences that I can bring back to progress my career. Whilst gaining mass of  inspiration for future projects. I hope this can be a launch pad  to develop my career in a direction that will be of benefit to society at large.

Great! thank you, we hope you have fun in Indonesia, we look forward to hear from you when you are there.