Marc Thorpe Design


"America is not a style, America is an idea," says Marc Thorpe

New York design isn't just about lighting. In the latest in our series of interviews with the city's designers, Marc Thorpe explains why multidisciplinary studios like his are the ones finding favour with European brands. Thorpe has set himself apart from a large portion of New York's designers, who primarily focus on high-end lighting design, by working across architecture, furniture, graphics and branding to build a successful business. He is one of only a handful of American designers that has managed to build relationships with large European furniture brands like Moroso and Casamania, while maintaining an international client roster that includes Coca-Cola, Mercedes Benz, Stella Artois and L'Oréal.

"Designers usually find themselves in this one realm of like 'I'm only doing product', or 'I'm only doing lights'," said Thorpe. "It's a question of limitation and if you talk to somebody in business, it's always about diversification."I always had a very difficult time being labelled an American designer," he continued. "My understanding of American design is that it's sort of an empty slogan – it doesn't really exist. America is not a style, America is an idea. And the idea was about diversification and having your own voice." He explained that New York's design scene is spilt between those like himself working across multiple sectors with international brands, and the "makers" who create custom products themselves and sell through American galleries.