Bruce Tharp is the founder of Materious, along with his wife Stephanie, working together in Chicago since 2005. They specialise in product licensing and commissions, as well as creating commercial design and critical work. Their firm is interested in physical substance and the substantiveness of designed objects. While their work ranges from the provocative to the servile. They also work with prestigious brands, such as Ligne Roset, Moet-Hennessy and The Art Institute of Chicago. So we are proud to bring you the Designer Insights of Bruce Tharp.
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1) In your own words describe your unique style and creative aesthetic?
We aim for sensuous minimalism, which attends to the intellectual tenets of minimalism—efficiency, clarity, purity—but without sacrificing the humanness and experientiality of our senses.
2) When starting a new project, what is your creative process?
We start by diagnosing the problem or opportunity, which most often involves a reframing. We are concerned for the ability of our projects to affect the intellect. “Materious” has the dual meaning of both substance and substantiveness.
3) Out of the creative people you have worked with, who is it that you respect and admire the most?
We love working with experts in other fields—people who care for and are invested in their disciplines the way we are with design. A great example of this is with a commission we did with Moet Hennessy and their vintner, Newton Vineyard. We spent a couple days on their Napa Valley hilltop understanding the entire process and their philosophy on sustainability, varietals, and an unfiltered process. The head winemaker, Chris Millard was great to work with as a professional, person, and as a passionate creator.
4) When looking for inspiration is there a particular thing you do to get inspired?
Inspiration can come from anywhere and often does. The key is being open and ready for it – the idea of the prepared mind. Sometimes it is from a misperception, or an NPR story, or a sketch, or a frustration, or an academic article, or something our daughter said.
5) What has brought you to this point in your career? And what is your advice for people looking to follow in your footsteps?
Passion, openness, hard work, connecting with others, persistence, perspicacity, service – nothing particularly unique to design, but to happiness in general. As Dalai Lama said, “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”