Designing Matchbook's Liquid Library


Designing a space is a very challenging and rewarding medium. A space is often made for more than one person, for more than one reason, and has to wear many hats. A used building has some pretty permanent ideas within it that you can either let bully you, or make it a feature.

The Matchbook Distilling Company front of house, was designed with all this in mind. It used to be an old Marine building where boats would get repaired. As you can imagine, a very different set of ideas than a Gin Apothecary + Liquid Library. Besides Booze and boats going hand in hand - very very different.

We quickly in our new-old space, ended up with a pretty odd shaped corner that seemingly had no real purpose. Changed that. We ended up creating an enormous pink concrete sink with a living moss wall above it with a playful neon with hands that sys “WASH ME”  . . Why not. Now in house referred to as the Wash-Up Station, and one of the coolest things I’ve ever been involved in making.

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When we got to the Matchbook space in Greenport in Jan 2017, it wasn’t exactly an empty shell. It was run down, there was junk, smells, a lot of work to do. We couldn’t physically start ripping out walls to get a better idea of where to start, or doing any removals as we were all still waiting on permits.

We didn’t wait, we sat there and started dreaming.

For months we sat in the space, with a few electric heaters, a coffee maker, and computers on desks fabricated from what ever scrappy wood and platforms we could find, and got down to business. It was business as un-usual, tough, but really romantic.

We had the time, months really, so we gave every detail attention. We made mood-boards for every area within the space, compiled of hundred of photos found on Pinterest. Explaining our idea visually to each other, and making sure that once we were all in agreeable moods about what we were doing, and when we picked up tools, there was a check list of what worked together and why. Its almost like creating your own design magazine for a step by step process, for something that doesn’t exist yet. Its kinda my favorite part.

Pinterest is an amazing tool that every creative person should use. Its free and its endless.

We then made renderings of every structure with we would build, the Apothecary, the library that would have a Smeg fridge in it, the coffee bar, the educational kitchen for making syrups etc.


We used our mood-board references to nail down materials and suppliers, for brass brackets, knobs, wood, paint colors, pink velvet for a curtain, leather for cushions, . . no texture surface or material unconsidered or unfound. With these level of details, and measurements from renderings, we could gather costs and create budgets. If we needed to reign in some cost, we would re think a material, or find another supplier.

When the winter passed and we could get our hands dirty, we did and we were heavily prepared.

The space really boasts organized ideas, and tells a story of passionate people who gave a BIG idea the time it deserved to become fully realized. I’m looking forward to seeing Matchbook Clients in there handling their own ideas from the ground up, creating incredible liquor in a space that truly inspires.


Tips from Nancy on process for a Process Junkie.

1) Concept is king. With a rushed idea you’ll get half-assed executions too. Don’t rush.

2) Be organized with your ideas. Use Pinterest. Keep a process book. Mood-board HARD.

3) You need less than you think to start. Get started even if its not comfortable. Find a way.

4) Bounce Ideas around. By collaborating with you team your idea will blossom.

5) Be refined in process. Add, Add, Add, and then take away until you only have what’s true.