Materious is the Chicago-based, husband-and-wife studio of Stephanie and Bruce Tharp, established in 2005. Our practice includes product licensing and commissions for companies like Ligne Roset, Moet-Hennessy, The Art Institute of Chicago, Crate&Barrel, and Kikkerland. We also self-produce our own commercial designs as well as create critical, non-commercial work.
As with the dual valence of the word, “materious” we are interested in the physical substance as well as the substantiveness of designed objects. Of special attraction is the domestic sphere—a space in which artifacts have a particular capacity for intimate engagement with individuals. Our work ranges from the speculative to the commercial; at times we aim for provocation and perturbation, while at others, sustenance and service. Despite diversity of intent, process, product, and use-context, ultimately we wish to effect new, valuable possibilities for human-object relationships.
Stephanie received her undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan in Mechanical Engineering, and upon graduation took a job at Ford Motor Company as a product development engineer. After two years with Ford, she returned to school to study at the Rhode Island School of Design, where she received her Masters in Industrial Design. She is currently an Associate Professor and Program Chair of Industrial Design at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
In addition to a PhD and MA in sociocultural anthropology from the University of Chicago, Bruce received a Masters of Industrial Design degree from Pratt Institute and a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Bucknell University. Presently he is an Associate Professor, and Graduate Program Chair at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He has lectured, exhibited, and published nationally and internationally. Prior to teaching, Bruce worked in the contract furniture industry within Haworth’s think-tank, the Ideation group, helping to bridge the gap between research on the built environment and implementable design solutions.