Design Philosophy

Matsys is a design studio exploring the emergent and integral relationships between form, growth, and behavior in material systems. This term, material systems, is not only the source of our practice’s name, but a philosophy of design that unites the biologic, geologic, and synthetic domains through their inherent matter and energy. As such, Matsys works across all scales and pursues a material practice that blends art, design, architecture, and engineering. We are relentlessly curious about and inspired by the diversity and complexity of all matter and strive to understand how to produce new material systems through technological and material innovation.

Central to this process of investigation is our interest in craft in both physical and digital mediums. Craftsmanship occurs at the intersection between material knowledge and tool expertise. With the rise of digital fabrication, architects have far greater direct control of the production of their work yet this also requires them to take on more responsibility for the resulting quality of the craft. Matsys has attempted to use our projects as a way to explore and expand the emerging craft of digital fabrication, generative modeling, and code.

Beyond the production of finely made work, our focus on craft is a research method that values learning through making. That is, our design process often begins with experiments with matter and code. It is only after multiple iterations of experiments do we begin to add in the complexities of site and program, and allow their criteria to modify the parameters of the material and/or computational system. This way of working flips the traditional architectural design process around where often discussions of matter are relegated to the final design phases. For us, the visceral, material, and tactile world come first and we search for ways that digital technologies can enable new experiences with it.

Many of our projects explore the capacity of material, geometry, and performance to work together to produce a more integrative design. This extends from our interests in structural form-finding in several shell projects (e.g. Confluence Park and Shellstar Pavilion) as well as the P Wall series of projects (2006 – present) that investigate the use of flexible fabric formwork in the production of precast façade panels. These projects celebrate the emergent effects of an integrated design process and resonate with vitality.

Our interest in craft, combined with a fascination with the emergence of structure, form, and intelligence in the natural and synthetic worlds, drive us to create objects, spaces, and landscapes that are complex, playful, and a bit uncanny.

Collaborators and Clients

  • Autodesk
  • Better Places Forest
  • Centre Pompidou
  • Fletcher Studio
  • FRAC Centre
  • Kreysler & Associates
  • Lake | Flato
  • Louis Vuitton
  • Maison Perrier Jouët
  • San Antonio River Foundation
  • San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
  • Studio Workshop
  • Vivid Sydney


Andrew Kudless is a designer based in Houston, Texas where he is the Bill Kendall Memorial Endowed Professor at the University of Houston’s Hines College of Architecture Design as well as the Director of the Advanced Media Technology Lab. In 2004, he founded Matsys, a design studio exploring the emergent relationships between architecture, engineering, biology, and computation. The work of Matsys has been exhibited internationally and is in the permanent collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, and the FRAC Centre in Orleans, France. His work on Confluence Park has won a number of awards including a 2019 AIA National Honor Award. In 2019, he became the first American designer to contribute to Louis Vuitton’s Objets Nomades collection. He holds a Master of Arts in Emergent Technologies and Design from the Architectural Association and a Master of Architecture from Tulane University.

Photo by Raphael Gianelli-Meriano.

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