People of Austin Profile Series
Growing up, Matt Garcia always thought he was going to be an engineer. As a steadfast teen, he drove up to visit Texas Tech in Lubbock from his hometown of San Antonio the summer before his senior year of high school to meet with an advisor. After the eight-hour drive, he discovered that no one from the engineering department was available, so he met with the only person who was—someone from the architecture program. “At that time, I didn’t realize what an architect did, but within a few moments in to that conversation, I knew it was what I was meant to do.” He worked for a big firm in LA after college, but kept dreaming of moving back to Austin. He landed his first job working for the legendary Dick Clark, and spent six years with him. “I wouldn’t be doing what I am without what I learned from him [Clark],” he says. “There is much more to being an architect than just the design.” This is the part—the personal relationships—that Garcia enjoys most about his job. “It can’t be all business…you have to understand how people live and how they interact with each other. My clients have to trust me.” Garcia, who launched his firm two years ago and offices at Canopy Studios, currently has several exciting projects on the boards like modern constructions on Stratford Drive and Pemberton Place, and a farmhouse in Manor, Texas that will be completed in 2014. “Our firm always has our signature, but we don’t force anything on our clients…we help make their vision happen.”
WHAT IS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL PLACE IN THE WORLD YOU’VE VISITED?
The Masai Mara in Kenya—there was a sunset and a couple Masai tribesman. I’ll never forget it.
WHAT IS ONE THING MOST PEOPLE DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU?
Most people don’t know I can take a Vespa scooter apart and put it back together. It’s a weekend hobby of mine.
WHAT IS YOUR MOST TREASURED POSSESSION?
An old, short-sleeve button-down shirt that belonged to my grandfather Arthur. The shirt is about 40 to 45 years old, and I wear it a couple times a year.
WHO ARE YOUR FAVORITE HEROES IN REAL LIFE?
My architect buddies, who had to start their own firm during the recession. It was really hard for them, but they worked hard and made it through to better times like today. They inspired me more than anything to start my own firm.
IF YOU WEREN’T IN YOUR CURRENT CAREER, WHAT ELSE WOULD YOU TRY?
Fixing Vespas and coaching high school basketball. I would love it.
WHAT DO YOU NEVER TRAVEL WITHOUT?
An iPod full of music and good headphones.
WHAT PIECE OF ART WOULD YOU MOST LIKE TO OWN?
Any form of art by Donald Judd. A furniture piece would be particularly awesome.
WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION FOR YOUR WORK?
Inspiration is easy in Austin. There are so many beautiful natural and manmade settings in and around town. Throw in all the creative people and it’s hard not to be inspired.
MATT’S STYLE ESSENTIALS
• Oliver Peoples Gregory Pick Frames. My daily eyeglasses; doesn’t hurt that Atticus Finch is one of my favorite fictional characters.
• 5×5 Rhodia orange sketchpad. Perforated sheets make it easy to sketch a detail and hand it directly to the builder.8×8 Staedtler blue grid vellum paper. All our houses start on this paper.
• Timmy Bob HELM Boots. I was an early HELM adopter and have way too many pairs; now I’m even designing a house for [HELM boots founder] Joshua Bingaman.
• Le Pen by Marvy Uchida. Great for sketching and available in lots of colors.
• Rotring Rapid PRO mechanical pencil. Solid metal, perfectly heavy, and comes in a handsome steel case.
• Persol Roadster sunglasses. I wear these everywhere.
• Moleskin weekly planner. I still like to write down all my plans on paper!