MEET MARC THORPE
An architect and designer based in New York City, Marc Thorpe founded the eponymous design practice, Marc Thorpe Design (MTD) in 2005 after studying architecture from the Parsons School of Design.
Multidisciplinary architect and designer.
Work featured in Vogue and Elle Decor.
Has taught at Parsons and Pratt.
Written by Sean Santiago
Photographs by Fran Parente
In collaboration with Freunde von Freunden
"That was an interesting approach: to create, or work on a more antiquated object or artifact within the context or framework of a company that is using such a new technology, and a new production method."
With designs having premiered at the Milan Furniture Fair to global acclaim, Thorpe’s career has included a mix of architecture, product design, and teaching. He has taught at Parsons School of Design, Pratt Institute, and New York University, where he currently resides. Through his firm, he has worked with Stella Artois, Acura, Esquire and Davidoff. He has also collaborated with Bernhardt, David Yurman, Quinze & Milan, Casamania and Target.
Tell us about your collaboration with OTHR. Can you speak a bit about that project, in terms of engaging with a very different production model and mindset?
It’s the perfect middle ground that works within their format but also our interests. It is a new territory, in terms of manufacturing—it’s additive manufacturing—so again, it was really about sort of exploring the various objects that we felt were interesting. It was really kind of across the board. In the end, we landed on objects that don’t get too much attention; very antiquated artifacts. We thought that was an interesting approach: to create, or work on a more antiquated object or artifact within the context or framework of a company that is using such a new technology, and a new production method.
How did the opportunity to partner with them come about?
The relationship that I’ve had with [OTHR founder] Joe Doucet is a long one. We met back in 2005 when I worked with him on an exhibition here in New York. Ever since then, we’ve been in touch, specifically in the design world, and over the years we’ve evolved in tandem. So, when he approached me about working with OTHR, I thought it would be a really interesting vehicle for product design.
In terms of ideation to execution, are projects only in development when a client comes to you, or are you constantly working on devising new objects—weird things that haven’t been invented yet?
There’s never a stopping point. There’s always an idea. The question is just how quickly can we produce it. So it’s nice having relationships like the one we have with OTHR, where you can present those ideas directly.
3D printing: is it the future?
For me, the sustainability factor is really interesting. Instead of having to produce mass quantities of an object and just hope they’ll sell, you essentially can order just one. It only exists based on the necessity of—or desire for—that one object. I think that’s really important. Additive manufacturing is essentially the next industrial revolution. Everything is going to be rapid prototyped that way, from the engine components that’ll go into a plane all the way through printing out your table and chairs and the objects that surround you. In the next 20 years, everything is going to be catered to you. It reduces the energy footprint, in terms of moving stuff around. We’re all going to have a printer at home that will allow us to rapid prototype the things that we need. I mean like, nails, little stuff, small things you can just hit print and you’ve got the 20 nails that you need.
Let’s take the sake set. What is it made out of?
Currently, porcelain. Right now, it’s a dialogue you have to have with the manufacturer. We’re not just dictating; we have to take their recommendations, their minor edits, in regards to what direction we need to go. We have to trust.