Mary & Matt, Chocolate Designers

When designers say they like to make things with their hands, they’re not usually talking about chocolate. But for Mary Matson, a former senior designer at Kate Spade who now works freelance from the Brooklyn home she shares with her husband and co-conspirator Matt Even — an art director at Wieden + Kennedy — food has always been part of the equation. “When you’re in art school, everything is critiqued, every moment, every mark,” Matson says. “I loved painting, but I wanted to do something physical where every nuance wasn’t commented on. I was in Boston for graduate school, I’d done some kitchen work — and somehow I bullshitted my way into a job as a pastry cook.”

And so a few years ago, when Matson and Even began toying with the idea of opening an online shop, they naturally kept coming back to the idea of sweets and chocolates, and in 2009 Chocolate Editions was born. Under the name Mary & Matt — as the two call their company and blog, which chronicles their collections and obsessions, from plastic New York deli bags to Yves Klein blue — they began producing candy bars from their Brooklyn kitchen. They started out with pop-inspired confections, like a slab of dark that resembles a block of Scrabble tiles, and soon moved on to 3-ounce solid bars and simple striped ones in nostalgic flavors like Neopolitan, a selection of which are now for sale at Partners & Spade. (It helps that while at Kate Spade, Matson did design work for the famed New York chocolatier Jacques Torres, who’s become a bit of a mentor in exchange for continuing package designs from Matson.) Artisanal, home-based production has become something of a trend lately, particularly in Brooklyn, but for Mary & Matt, it was never about locavorism or Slow Food or any other Sunday Styles sort of buzzword. “We’re totally on the other side of things,” says Matson. “We want to use good ingredients, too, but our take is a little more pop, a little sweeter — more what you remember as a child.”

Matson and Even met as skate-obsessed high-schoolers in the D.C. suburbs, and after so many years together, the two have developed a shared set of references that pop up in everything from their chocolates to their identically designed websites to their home, which I had the pleasure of visiting last month. We’re calling their aesthetic “unsentimental nostalgia”; click through to see what we mean.