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Meet Matt Nardella of Moss Design in Logan Square

Today we’d like to introduce you to Matt Nardella.

From making 3-D mini-cities as a kid to securing a scholarship to The New School of Architecture in San Diego, California, Matt has always been passionate about improving communities through architecture. Ditching his car for a bicycle, and long before ‘green’ became trendy, he was determined to transcend everyday buildings and create solutions by adapting to each site, climate, and materials so all living creatures could live in concert with the natural world.

He launched Moss Design during the recession of 2008, building it over time to a multi-project studio that has created some of Chicago’s most thoughtfully designed spaces. From Loire Valley-reminiscent Pastoral to the historic Lawrence House Hotel; and multiple award winning home renovations (Curbed; CS Interiors), Moss has solidified a brand that aims for a mutually beneficial relationship between environment and edifice.

His contributions tie architecture into narratives of community betterment and human rights. In a Huffington Post interview, Matt supported transgender rights by proposing that single user restrooms replace stalls. As an advocate of public green space, he envisioned Kayak River Park on the North Branch Canal with a floating pool and wetlands to keep the river healthy. Championing the PARK(ing) Day movement, he contributed to place making for pedestrians and bikers by designing and installing Parklets in Andersonville and Logan Square. Recently, he acquired a former grocery store, taking his operation into property development with eyes on sustainably reusing, adapting and rebuilding the space to serve as his new studio, as well as residential and commercial property.

Has it been a smooth road?
For the most part, the growth of moss has been relatively smooth. The organic and intentional growth has gone according to plan and strategy. Some of the challenges faced have been minor – to recruiting experienced designers and finding and purchasing a building for the moss studio, showroom and work shop.

Not having a desire to work with investors (more artistic freedom without investors) we were faced with slow growth and expansion. However, the trade-off is worth it and we continue to work with interesting and creative clients, which is something we are passionate about.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
Moss is a full service architecture and design studio. Our work is diverse by design, and allows us to explore the best design solutions across varied project types including residential, commercial, breweries and wineries, retail, urban planning, custom furniture, restaurants, and LEED.

We assist our clients through the entire architectural and construction process, from site selection and design through permitting and construction. We work collaboratively with our design team and fabricators to create beautiful, livable, superior spaces.

We believe that successful design provides a solid connectivity with nature while responding to client needs, desires, and their vision of a comfortable, livable, and functional environment. We believe that sustainable designs can be cost-effective, preserve history, and result in a more beautiful, conscientious, and enduring design. Our designs integrate natural light and air, connection to landscape and green space, and the surrounding environment to create open, navigable spaces for present and posterity.

Our architecture emphasizes the creative use of sustainable materials to seamlessly blend landscape with the built environment, creating an enriching experience for occupants, and exerting a minimal impact on the surrounding landscape. Instead of supplanting or suppressing, we aim to create a mutually beneficial exchange between environment and edifice, where buildings don’t dirty, pollute or drain, but instead, clean, purify, and inspire. This approach allows us to create site specific, energy efficient, sustainable architecture.

We don’t ‘specialize’ in a specific design parameter. We are designers, collaborators and problem solvers. This is applied to everything in design. If pressed, we specialize in architecture design. However, we are multi-faceted and design buildings, living spaces, furniture, and objects. We are known for creating living spaces for all living things – no matter of race, gender, religious or political views. We embrace diversity and this is apparent in our work. Recently we have been known for and have received extensive press for designing gender neutral bathrooms (more here on our blog (http://moss-design.com/blog/). We developed smart design solutions to address the problem.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Taxes and weather have not deterred or affected our business. Operating a small business in Chicago definitely has unique challenges, but a small studio like moss has been fortunate in regard to growth.

The second question/answer isn’t so straight forward and there are many variables. I feel it’s contingent upon the person, their experience, the amount of risk they are willing to take, what type of people make up their network (connections are important) and exactly what their goals are. If a designer wants to focus on hospitality design (restaurants), then Chicago would be an excellent starting ground. If their goal is to work on institutional design, then I would strongly recommend rethinking location.

The city and the state of Illinois has serious financial issues, which we’re all aware of. If someone has a strong network and ties to the city, then it may be advantageous to start a business in Chicago. If not, I would suggest they research other cities (Austin, TX – Denver, CO – Seattle, WA) that are rapidly developing.

Contact Info:

  • Address: Moss
    2855 West Diversey Avenue
    Chicago, Illinois 60647
  • Website: moss-design.com
  • Phone: 773.857.5533
  • Email: laura@moss-design.com
  • Instagram: @mossarchitect
  • Facebook: @mossgreenarchitect
  • Twitter: @mossdesign
  • Other: Pinterest: @mossdesign Etsy: mossdesignchicago Houzz: moss


Image Credit:
Laura Cripe, Chris Bradley, Matt Nardella

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