Seventeen years ago, Matthew Hufft and his wife, Jessie, started an architecture and design company in New York City designing loft apartments. But Springfield-born Matthew saw more opportunity in his native Missouri.
While Hufft began as a company doing high-end, single-family residential work, the company has evolved to take on larger commercial projects. Notable Hufft buildings in KC include Parlor, Corvino, the Charlotte Street Foundation and a space for students at the Kansas City Art Institute.
Hufft involves not only architects and interior designers in its projects but also local artists. The company even has its own fabrication division to make things like cabinetry and furniture.
We chatted with Matthew about the company, recent projects, his design approach, the pandemic and a few of his favorite spots around the city.
What’s one of your favorite projects you’ve done here in Kansas City? On the residential front, I have several favorites. But of course, I love my own home because I built it for myself and my family and I get to enjoy it. We fabricated everything in it down to the desk I’m sitting in front of now.
We finished the Kansas City Art Institute’s only academic building a couple of years ago. It sits in the corridor of all the amazing historic architecture of Kansas City, right next to the Nelson and Kemper.
How would you describe Hufft’s aesthetic? I’ve always strived to have a real variety of our work, but I think there is probably a common kind of string throughout it all. It’s modern in thought—we don’t do highly traditional work based on design ethos of symmetry or ornament. That’s not really in our ethos.
We love traditional architecture, and I think we have done some things that some modernists might consider traditional. The format that we use in our company to design something is based on three things: people, places and concept. The concept is always something that’s different with every project. We’ve designed a house that was actually inspired by a Polaroid camera.
When you look at something, sometimes you look at it and you just kind of understand its beauty for what it is. It’s hard to name it.
How has the pandemic affected your work and approach? We’re definitely rethinking the whole idea of a home or an apartment. Pre-pandemic, an office was kind of a rare thing to put into a home. Now people need an office at home and acoustics have become pretty important for Zoom calls and virtual meetings.
Another thing that has been good for our industry is just the quality of space—people really think about it now. People think more about what their space is going to be like and pay more attention to design-related dimensions and quality materials.
Café Sebastienne at the Kemper Museum “This is the best spot for a glass of wine with lunch.”
The Bloch Building at the Nelson-Atkins Museum “Always a place of inspiration.”
The backyard at Grinders “You can get a great Ruben, a pint of beer and let your dog and kids play in the yard.”