Range Rover & SHARP
Matt Zhang appreciates the finer things in life. He’s got friends in high places and sports cars in the garage. In his off-time, you’re most likely to catch the 28-year-old Vancouverite at a Michelin Star restaurant or a luxury hotel on vacation. “Once you’ve tasted the lifestyle, you want more of it,” he says.
A taste for luxury is something he’s infused into his company, The Luxe Design Studio. From design services to building construction (and even buying and selling), Zhang is the brains behind personal and commercial property designs that run in the multi-millions.
But, behind the opulence, is someone who’s intimately acquainted with hard work. He’s deeply connected to understanding his clients, creating efficient systems for his business, and cultivating a culture of respect and openness among his teams.
Zhang was born with the drive to succeed. The son of immigrants with entrepreneurial spirits of their own, his childhood was full of opportunities to observe his role models creating something from nothing. His parents held him to the highest standard. “I felt the need to prove myself,” he says.
A naturally extroverted person, Zhang finds joy in connecting with others. In fact, it’s what makes him stand out from other designers. He takes client loyalty and solving problems very seriously.
In recent years, Zhang has developed his business to be able to accommodate the entire real estate experience — from acquisition to interior and exterior design, architecture and build. “My clients asked if I could help them buy and sell their homes. I didn’t have a real estate license, but I thought, ‘I can get it in two months, I just need to take the exam,’” says Zhang. “Now, rather than the client having to deal with multiple people, we can solve any problem they may have.”
This isn’t a one-off example of Zhang going to any length to please his clients. In fact, getting to know his clients on a personal level while anticipating their needs is his secret sauce for designing intuitive concepts. “I don’t like boardroom settings where people are scared to talk,” he says. “I invite my clients out for dinner and talk about the project then so they’re more comfortable.”
And what’s revealed in those conversations is enough to guide him in creating designs that awe. “We’re designing a house in Squamish, BC for a client who loves outdoor activities and cars. So, we developed a mudroom where he can hang his outdoor gear. We also created a glass wall that separates the garage from the living room, and between it is a wine rack, so he can see through the wine rack into the garage and he can look at his cars,” says Zhang.
But it’s not just aesthetics that Zhang’s designs are concerned with — they’ve got to be functional and have a purpose. “The temperature in the garage cools the wine racks and regulates temperature in the living room,” he says.
These cohesive details feed Zhang’s true passion: making his client’s lives easier. “This is your home — your place of peace. If I can make your place of peace better, that makes me happy,” he says.
To keep his own house in order, Zhang values mutual respect among his team, and recognizes that he’s still learning many aspects of running a business himself. His humble, approachable nature sets him apart from tyrant bosses of his own past. “I’m a leader, but I’m not the ‘boss,’” says Zhang. “If my team has a question at 10 p.m. about their work, they know they can call me and I’ll help them work through it.”
Zhang’s greatest career accomplishment hasn’t come in the form of a stand-out property or even a luxurious treat to give himself a pat on the back. He’s most proud of being recognized by his peers, and when his clients love their homes so much that they refer him to their friends.
“To have people support you when you’re not watching is hard to find — and it makes me proud,” he says.