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2023 Designer Dozen: Matthew Almendarez

VMSD | April 2, 2023 by Carly Hagedon


Between interfacing with clients, mentoring junior designers, coordinating consultants and overseeing projects from design development through completion, Matthew wears many hats in his role. His co-workers say if a client has worked with Matthew in the past, they almost always request him to be on their team again for the next project. Recently, Matthew was a project team leader for Bucherer’s first U.S. flagship in New York, working from conceptual design to the store’s opening. With an eye for detail, he reportedly became the go-to resource during the project for consultants as well as the client due to his strong communication skills and ability to juggle many moving parts.

In addition to volunteering at local park clean-ups in honor of Earth Day or planting new trees, Matthew often volunteers for career fairs.

Photo by Richard Cadan

What place that you’ve visited has made the biggest impression on you and why?

I visited Tokyo for my 25th birthday and I still cannot get over the amazing vending machines they have in the streets – everything I tried there was so good and delightful! Their random placement was also very unique and made navigating the city more enjoyable. One day, we didn’t use Google Maps to navigate around the different neighborhoods and we just let the built environment navigate us. We definitely discovered some fun vending machines and interesting spots along the way, which made our trip more enjoyable. It made me appreciate Tokyo’s creative approach to their city design.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I enjoy interacting with the clients, and getting to know their vision and what they want for their space. It’s exciting to collaborate with them and come up with solutions/ideas to make it work.

What’s the biggest challenge you face professionally?

When designing the layout for a retail space, I tend to produce multiple iterations and constantly ask myself ‘what if I do this instead?’ Once I get into the project, it’s hard for me to pause and stop. It’s great to have these iterations as backup options, but I could easily spend hours redesigning a space.

Retail changes every day. What role do you see physical stores playing in the future?

I’m starting to see more and more retail stores create creative, experiential spaces for the consumers through the use of technology and I find that very fascinating. It’s definitely a great way to engage and encourage consumers to buy products and ensures consumers that their investment in the product is worthwhile. Testing it in stores and being able to ask questions gives the power to the consumer, and it’s an exciting thing.

The best part of my day is…

…getting to hang with my boyfriend and pup at home.

My dream project is…

…to design and operate my own coffee shop.

Published: VMSD


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