Matt Wright is a landscaper and designer who also runs gardening accessories label Wright & Doyle with his girlfriend Bella Doyle. The collection includes pots, plant hangers and plant stands, garden tools and utilitarian unisex work wear – if hipsters were gardeners-style. Bella, alongside her work as a pattern cutter for brands such as Roksanda and Alex Eagle, designs all the garments for the Wright & Doyle collection. “Matt was the first person I met who had more houseplants than me,” she says. “When we first moved in together we had more plants than furniture and nowhere to put the furniture because all the space was filled with plants. We came about the collection idea as we both have an innate love of products that have both a purpose and a refined beauty, have integrated design and functionality. Everything we sell we use ourselves, it’s the things that surround us in our daily lives.”
The couple live together on a canal boat on London’s Regent’s Canal – a small space which, as Matt explains below, was also part of the inspiration behind the collection. Here he tells us a bit more about the brand, his landscaping work and where he goes for garden inspiration.
Living on a canal boat, do you hanker for more outdoor space to work with?
“Right now we don’t feel limited at all by outdoor space. The boat is moored by Walthamstow Marshes so there is a lot of open ground for exploring and foraging directly on our doorstep. And the outdoor space on the boat is regularly used as a temporary homing ground for plants heading to clients’ gardens. This way we get to benefit from an evolving cycle of plants.”
Tell us about your collection of house plants– do you ever run out of surfaces?
“The collection of plants indoors is forever growing. In 2012 we had the boat built to our own design specifications. A large glass roof hatch takes prime position in an area of the boat filled with cacti and succulents. The lack of surfaces in many ways became the premise for Wright and Doyle as we are now making plant hangers and stands to utilise these small spaces.”
What is your natural style when it comes to landscaping and gardening?
“In an urban environment I think you can get away with varying styles, using them together in the same space. Predominantly working in generally small domestic gardens has not restricted me by any means. It’s often an opportunity to break rules, mixing forms and foliage to create a garden not too dissimilar to a Henri Rousseau painting.”
You’ve talked about being able to translate the aesthetic of a person’s home into their garden – how does this work in practice?
“This usually comes from building a personal relationship with the client. I often work alongside architects so it is essential to capture or frame the garden so the two can work hand in hand.”
What are your tips for creating a tropical look in the UK?
“I enjoy using architectural plants with large or interesting foliage. In Central London especially, and with an ever-changing climate, it is now easier than ever to create more tropical-looking environments. Plants that often appear in my designs are Tetrapanax Rex, Melianthus Major, Dicksonia Antarctica and Schefflera Macrophylla. I have not yet been fortunate enough to work on projects beyond London, but I certainly believe that each site must be approached differently. There will always be varying factors including aspect, soil conditions, light and shade etc that have to be taken into consideration.”
Is there a plant or plants you’re dying to use?
“I’m waiting to visit Crug Farm and Nursery in Wales. It has a vast and amazing collection of rare plants collected from all corners of the globe.”
Do you have any favourite points of reference – e.g. books, designers or particular gardens – when it comes to designing?
“There are so many amazing gardens to choose from. I will always try and factor in at least one visit when approaching a new project. I particularly like a garden that is playful, that leads you on a journey or has areas to hide. Great Dixter is a fine example of this and gardeners like Piet Oudulf and Dan Pearson have inspired me, in particular because of their naturalistic style.”
Which open gardens in the UK or abroad do you recommend visiting for inspiration?
“I lived in Glasgow for five years while studying at the School of Art there and the Glasgow Botanic Gardens will always be an inspiring place close to my heart. Others include Rousham, Mydellton House and of course Great Dixter, but there are so many more besides these. The homepage for our website [above, top] was shot in Jardi Marimurta close to Barcelona, Spain.”
Can you explain the ethos behind the products for Wright and Doyle?
“The ethos behind Wright and Doyle is about designing timeless pieces and garments that connect people to the garden and heighten their awareness of conscientious design. Our backgrounds in fine art and fashion have definitely been an influence on both landscapes and products designed for the collection and there is an emphasis on both functionality and form that has tied the brand together nicely.”
Finally, where is your favourite place – public or private – to sit outdoors in summer?
“I’d have to say, on the roof of our boat in the evenings, sharing some food and drink with friends.”