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Matt Bier outside of his studio

Featured Article

The Natural

Meet the Maker, Matt Bier

Sometimes, you discover art where you least expect it, like while you are plant shopping. So goes the story for many clients of creator Matt Bier, who made his initial mark in Westport back in 2016 as the lead artist hired by Urban Outfitters to design and build-out Terrain, the ethereal botanical retailer we all love to indulge in. Bier's first week at Terrain he was tasked with dreaming up something show-stopping for the entry that would work as a seasonal hanger for lights, leaves and other decor. The building is an old Cadillac dealership, so he decided to "go huge," and created a 20 foot in diameter chandelier out of foraged branches.  His goal was to set the tone and it worked. Bier explains, "When you create a piece that is bigger than you are, it puts you in your place, the same way walking in a forest does.”  It's true. Standing below one of these beauties, you feel like a bird at peace in her woodland habitat. Time to go feather the nest...

Bier has moved on from Terrain and now has a flourishing solo business making almost anything you can dream up out of natural materials. His commissions have included custom tables, garden gates and swings, enormous wreaths, moss wall installations, birdhouses, and more epic chandeliers - which can only be described as absolute works of art.  A classically trained artist, he has been creating since he was a kid. After being blown-away by Bier's work in several local homes, Designport visited Bier at his studio, a restored 1920s barn to hear his story.

WLM: How did your artistic journey begin?

MB: I grew up in D.C. surrounded by the Smithsonian. I took classes at the National Portrait Gallery and the Corcoran, went to an art high school then to the School of Visual Arts to study graphic design. Graphics proved to be too clean for me so I moved towards painting and sculpture.  At that time I noticed what Anthropologie and Terrain were doing; creating window and store displays, working with a product and narrative in mind, and it sparked something in me. 

WLM: How did your 10 years working for Anthro and Terrain prepare you for what you are doing today?

MB: In those shops, I was creating an immersive space. Making cardboard architecture look like stone, it’s a lot like a set-building. These companies will pile on the work, but it builds a flexible artistic mind. I have the tools to figure out how to do almost anything. Yes, I can build a banquette, but I can also produce the table, the light fixture and the art that goes on the wall. 

WLM: How does your process work with clients?

MB: My clients are mostly homeowners, local businesses and designers. A client will bring me an idea or an image and I’ll start sketching with them. Then back in my studio, I’ll further develop the design. Sometimes it’s a beautiful garden gate whose intention is to be that first piece that greets someone or it’s a chandelier meant to create a whole environment. When the final product is delivered and lived with, it’s a piece of art that the client had a role in and they can see that role and be proud of it as time goes on.

How are these massive chandeliers made?

I create the core in the studio and make it as big as I can so it will just fit through the door.  Then I’ll do my foraging, usually dead pieces of Mountain Laurel and Magnolia, prune the branches and insert them into the chandelier frame so it feels natural. I try to balance the hard and the soft. It’s kind of like a bird building a nest, and it can go wrong so easily. I might add oxidized metal flowers, dried flowers or dried seed pods; it’s basically a monument to nature.

Your job brought you to Westport, but what has kept you in the area?

Terrain recognized this area as being in tune with their aesthetic and that was very much my aesthetic too. This is a great part of the country for what I do. It’s not cheap to think outside the box with home décor, but people here have an appetite and an ability to do it.

What are your future goals?

My goal is pretty humble as well as a big ask.  I want to be able to continue doing what I do.  This kind of work supports my talent and my soul. If I’m able to make a living doing it, I’ve already reached my ultimate goal.

Matt Bier lives with his wife Melissa, who he met in art school, and their 10 year old son. You'll find his work in some unexpected places, but you can also find it on his Instagram @matt_bier

Follow Bier's work and other artists and creatives in the home space on Instagram @my_designport 

  • A Bier chandelier in a Weston living room
  • Bier's moss wall at Terrain
  • Bier hanging at glass chandelier at Anthropologie
  • Chandelier detail
  • The original chandelier at Terrain
  • A chandelier installed in a Westport homeowner's potting shed / pool house
  • The view from beneath a chandelier
  • A custom garden fence
  • A hand-made garden gate
  • Sketch of a book library Sketch of an outdoor library shelf for Long Lots Elementary
  • A moss wall installation
  • A custom wreath
  • Detail of a moss wall
  • Matt Bier outside of his studio
  • A backyard swing built by Bier, styled by Amanda Desmond of Outdoor Design & Living
  • An outdoor shower designed by Bier
  • A custom dining table
  • A custom table
  • Cutting board detail