The LGBT Creatives Series: Interview with Matthew Waldman of Nooka

The LGBT Creatives Series: Interview with Matthew Waldman of Nooka

The LGBT Creatives Series: Interview with Matthew Waldman of Nooka

Who are you, where are you and what do you do?
I am Matthew Waldman, a native New Yorker, entrepreneur, designer, artist and creator of nooka. I speak Japanese, futurist, technoprogressivist, fellow of the royal academy of arts [UK]. Based in New York City, I create physical manifestations of ideas, promote universal communication via the form of visual language and fashion, and design and bring a techno-progressivist set of expectations to the world of ordinary objects.

What are you currently working on?
Our upcoming collections for nooka, our new look book to support that, a secret collab project for a major sportswear fashion company and also a project for two different 3D printing technology companies.

The LGBT Creatives Series: Interview with Matthew Waldman of Nooka

When did you come out and what was the story?
Technically I never “came out” – I was born into a very liberal lower middle class background in NYC from a family of mediums, artists and real-life gangsters – so being a homo was neither shocking nor alien. My mom dressed like a drag queen and her best friend was gay when I was little. She was personally, albeit tangentially, involved with the early gay rights movement every time she had to be a character witness for her friend when gay bars were raided and he was arrested.

But for my story, when I was 5 years old, a new family moved into our apartment building: a single mom with two boys the same ages as me and my brother. I went with my mom to bring them a “welcome to the building” cake, and on the floor of an empty living room was a boy my age with a mop of dirty blond hair wearing nothing but his undies playing with lincoln logs. I literally fell in-love-at-first-site and ran to give him a hug. Later that day I told my mom, “When I grow up i’m going to marry Andrew!” and she thought that was the sweetest thing. Of course, it didn’t work out that way, but we still talk. he is married and has two lovely boys of his own now. We were BFFs all through elementary school and I never hid my sexuality or emotions from him or anyone growing up.

A later and more funny story is that in high school I thought I was out but could never get a date from other boys in my school. Then a year after high school I ran into one of the guys I kept asking out and he was shocked to see me in a gay club! I asked him, “Don’t you remember me asking you out all the time?!?” to which he replied, “Yes, but I thought you were just trying to be cool by having a gay friend.” I was like, “How does that make me cool?” and “Why didn’t you think i was gay?” And I remember his answer to this day: “But you were into punk and rock music!”

The LGBT Creatives Series: Interview with Matthew Waldman of Nooka

How does being queer effect your work, if at all?
I’m really not sure. Perhaps the ability to be flirtatious with both men and women is a benefit in business but I’m a humanist at my core, and believe that there are so many examples of exceptions to every rule that I really do shun from generalizations. Honestly, it seems that I am an exception in the industrial design world as a homosexual (I don’t like the word “gay” at all) and sexuality has really rarely ever come up in regards to my work.

The LGBT Creatives Series: Interview with Matthew Waldman of Nooka

In your mind, what should gay pride be and how would you celebrate it?
This is the most complicated question for me to answer. Intellectually I understand how important Gay Pride is in a world where homosexuals are routinely discriminated against, but I also believe that one should only be proud of their accomplishments. Being gay in-and-of itself should not be a source of pride anymore than being black, white, Jewish, American etc. I want to see gay pride celebrated in the context of the whole human family, not as sexuality, and I know this view is often misinterpreted by the mainstream gay culture. Not to back-track, but I like to celebrate the memory and legacies of people like Alan Turing to show the world that bigotry against homosexuals has real consequence, and that gays have made contributions that without, modern society would simply not exist. I do envision a world where we can all just be proud to be humans without all these labels.

4 Comments The LGBT Creatives Series: Interview with Matthew Waldman of Nooka

  1. Nic Fulton July 6, 2011 at 4:13 AM

    Thanks for the story. And Matthew, thanks for babysitting the kids (for free) with Frank back way-ago. I can mail you some “oil” if you need (let’s let the dirty minds figure out what kind of oil we’re talking about). I’d love to see you down-under.

  2. matt July 6, 2011 at 9:36 AM

    hey nic, thanks for the comment here but facebook or email is better for insider i’m always up for babysitting…may go to oz later in the summer or in the fall….

  3. A.B.C. July 6, 2011 at 2:46 PM

    This is my favorite of the series so far. I have always enjoyed Waldman’s work and throughly enjoyed his “coming out” section of the interview. I feel like the views expressed across the board regarding the idea of gay pride are a very relevant conversation today. After a recent dialogue I had with a friends younger brother who came out over the holidays I found it interesting to see that this 16 year old boy also expressed the same views you and these other artists share. We grew up in an area of LA where being a homosexual is very trendy in high school, and never dealt with homophobia. However many people have made there sexuality their identity. The substance is lost on the “style” of their life. Correct me if I am wrong, but I feel like we live in a time when we can move past the idea of being gay first and artist second, or lawyer or doctor or anything. One’s sexuality should no longer be the most apparent aspect of their personality, but rather the work they create and the ideas they promote.

  4. matthew July 7, 2011 at 7:09 AM

    i’m glad you enjoyed the interview, and identity is always going to be a thorny issue. from my teens til this day i get into heated arguments with fellow liberals [and not just on LGBT issues] where i feel energies are miss-placed. so to clarify, i have a problem with a gay identity based on sexual behavior, but i am a strong supporter of human rights and basic citizen rights that need to be extended to EVERYONE. this is why the gay marriage issue is so important. if the conservatives [and all anti gay marriage people] really want to live in a world where you legally define people by their private sexual behavior, then be fair: annul ALL heterosexual marriages that do not produce children. infertile or not, non-reproductive sex is fornication and that is still illegal in many states still! my view is to keep it real people! create and live in a civil society, and a civil society respects the privacy of what one does with their body, and gays should not embrace an identity based on that.

    i can go on and on about similar well-meaning yet disjointed movements like fundraising for individual diseases when if everyone doing that lobbied for universal healthcare regardless of one’s illness would solve more problems than the ones in the crosshairs…..

    main point, don’t lose sight of the forest for the sake of the trees!

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