Business of Home - How Modern Matter Is Making Heirloom Hardware
When it comes to interiors, hardware is often compared to jewelry—a finishing flourish that can complement cabinetry or furniture, elevating the entire effect. But for luxury hardware brand Modern Matter, that idea is more than a convenient comparison: Founders Katherine Weeks Mulford and Lee Addison Lesley launched it in 2018 as a sister collection to their successful jewelry line, Addison Weeks.
The idea for the business came in part because of a suggestion from an interior designer. “We had a designer say, ‘I love this bracelet you made—could you interpret it as a cabinet pull?’” says Mulford. “She asked us for one interpretation and we came back with a dozen options. They all had gemstones and were super creative.”
Mulford says that their outsider perspective has continued to shape Modern Matter’s progression as the hardware line, which was formerly also called Addison Weeks, has grown. “Coming from another industry, we have a design process that isn’t limited by the same expectations other businesses have about what finishes we can use or what shapes sell best,” she says. “At trade shows, we’ve had engineers come up to us and tell us, ‘You’re really doing it! This is what we’d all like to be doing.’ We’ve benefited from not knowing what other brands are doing and continuing to make whatever inspires us.”
Aiming to give designers room to play, Modern Matter offers a wide range of metal finishes for our hardware in addition to varying sizes. For the knobs and pulls that center around a gemstone, there’s a standard collection of stones as well as a special, rotating limited option. “We work with craftspeople who make these pieces by hand, and we’re often selecting exotic gemstones that aren’t typically sold in the United States, like pink onyx or chrysoprase,” says Modern Matter CEO Rishap Malhotra. “We don’t know of any other hardware business that allows designers this type of journey. We want designers to create something unique, and we believe in providing them with options that can fit their vision.”
“We want designers to create something unique, and believe in providing them with options that fit their vision.”
Modern Matter turned to designers to help develop its trade program, which includes a trade discount, sampling program, and dedicated customer service representatives, all without a minimum buy-in or order quantity. The program also allows designers to work with the brand on custom pieces for large orders. Another perk is the annual international trip for selected trade customers to learn about traditional metalsmithing and lapidary.
This creative freedom is also what designers love about working with the brand. “With every idea I’ve had, Modern Matter has responded, ‘Let’s do it!’ It’s been so seamless,” says Dallas-based interior designer Michelle Nussbaumer, who has a collection with the brand. “Because of that attitude, I’ve been able to bring to life ideas that are really special to me and turn motifs I love, like Aztec symbols or equestrian themes, into gorgeous hardware.”
Nussbaumer says Modern Matter’s product quality matches that of any custom hardware she has ordered, while easily surpassing the convenience. “You could wait months for a custom piece, but you don’t have to,” she says. “They’re creating heirloom-quality hardware, and there just isn’t much of that on the market. Even if you moved out of a house, you’d take these pieces with you—they’re that beautiful.”