Where I Work: Marc Thorpe

We visit New York City to check in on the Union Square studio of architect and industrial designer Marc Thorpe who manages to bridge the gap between architecture, design, and technology. Collaborating with the likes of Moroso, Bernhardt Design, Target, and so many more, keeps this firm continually producing cutting edge work that will probably stay ingrained in your mind. In this edition of Where I Work, let’s take a look around office of Marc Thorpe Design, where you might spot an adult beverage on the desktop and perhaps some Jay Z playing in the background.

What is your typical work style?

We pride ourselves on being regimented, focused, and efficient. We never miss a deadline because of this. I work best in the morning from 8am-2pm. I try to schedule meetings after 2pm. I try to never work at home; it’s like the separation of church and state. However, when you do have a day to work at home, it’s a bit of a luxury.


What’s your studio/work environment like?

Minimal, we are void of clutter, mess and disorganization. The studio is a machine. I run a very tight ship when it comes to my work environment. I don’t like mess, hell; I hate it when a chair is not pushed in. Now you think I’m crazy… well maybe.


How is your office organized/arranged?

We all work together in an open plan space. White desks, White chairs, white paper, etc. It’s easier to focus on the task at hand with a neutral environment. We are saturated all day by moving images, people, and things it’s important to have a white wall for sanity.


How long have you been in this space? Where did you work before that?

I’ve had a handful of studios in the past, Manhattan and Brooklyn. Currently the studio is located in Union Square, which is very convenient if you want someone on the street to bum your cigarettes.

If you could change something about your workspace, what would it be?

I would like more natural light; currently the studio is a bit closed off to the world outside. A previous studio had lots of natural light and overlooked Madison Square Park – that was amazing.

Is there an office pet?

Hell no.

Do you require music in the background? If so, who are some favorites?

Yes, I personally can only design with music. The selection depends on the mood but most of the time I have to play something hard, fast, and loud, Skrillex, Dillion Frances, Beastie Boys….99 Problems by Jay Z is playing now. You can maybe see the influence in my work.

How do you record ideas?

I draw. I have been drawing since I was a kid. I was going to become an illustrator at a very earlier point. The value of being able to draw is immense. I can communicate any idea, anywhere at anytime. It’s so important when you are in the field. At the beginning of the design process it’s the only way. I am free with a pen.


Do you have an inspiration board? What’s on it right now?

No, I learned about an inspiration board in school. I thought it was bullshit. We have so many images in our head because of the oversaturated world we live in. I think it’s important to edit as much out as possible. I like to use my imagination. Remember when you were a kid and turned a cardboard box into a spaceship. That’s the level I like to operate on. I’ll draw something and then think of a Sci-Fi material or technology that maybe it could be produced out of… only to find out that the material does not exist but that leads me to something real.


What are your creative process and/or creative workflow like? Does it change every project or do you keep it the same?

The process is the same. We start with hand drawing, model making, etc. Then a direct integration into the computer, AutoCAD, Solidworks, Rhino, SketchUp, KeyShot are our drugs of choice. Within the process, the computer and hand drawing go in tandem. It’s like a dance between the two.


What kind of design objects might you have scattered about the space? 

It’s like an Apple store.

What tool do you most enjoy using in the design process?

My hands.


Let’s talk about how you’re wired. Tell us about your tech arsenal/devices.

We are Mac’d out and have more paper and pens than the art store down the block.

Is there a favorite project you’ve worked on?

My favorite project is the one designed tomorrow.

Do you feel like you’ve “made it”? What has made you feel like you’ve become successful? At what moment/circumstances? Or what will it take to get there?

I’m never satisfied and always pushing myself to be better. The way I view success is doing what you love everyday. In that sense I have succeeded. The key to never be comfortable. When you are in an uncomfortable position you are enabled to do anything to get yourself out of it. This is a constant state for entrepreneurs. You have to challenge yourself and never say no.

Tell us about a current project you’re working on. What was the inspiration behind it?

We are working on many projects, from product and furniture design to interiors, architecture, and branding projects. They are all special projects for wonderful clients. Most are NDA’d….


What’s on your desk right now? 

A Stella Artois Chalice and a new prototype of a project for the Cooper Hewitt.

Do you have anything in your home that you’ve designed/created?

Yes, I’m fortunate to have worked with some great furniture brands. I have a Miura Sofa and Area Table from Bernhardt Design. I also have Mark tables and Morning Glory tables around the house from Moroso.

Caroline Williamson is Editor-in-Chief of Design Milk. She has a BFA in photography from SCAD and can usually be found searching for vintage wares, doing New York Times crossword puzzles in pen, or reworking playlists on Spotify.