Friday, 15 November 2019 15:55

Meet the new SBID President, Tom Marquardt

    Following his recent appointment as SBID President, Tom Marquardt, Founder of design firm marquardt+, sat down with Inex to discuss his years of experience within the interiors industry and talk us through his new role with the society.

    Can you please provide us with a description of your career?

    It has been beyond what I ever hoped for, starting out. I wanted to be in design since a child but ended up on a serpentine journey to where I am today. This is my fourth decade in design and at the helm of marquardt+. I have always used creative thinking to challenge trends and conventions. My career is built on it. This is the hallmark of my education, practice and work defining my career.

    What will your new role at SBID entail?

    As the first international member-appointed President, I hope to help dissolve borders and expand the connections between the UK profession and interior design around the world.

    I also hope to further SBID’s commitment to both practice and education to further their vision, so aligned with my own. And honestly, what could be better than having this opportunity to help?

    As a newly-elected President at SBID, what changes will you bring to the society?

    I honestly think the individuality of every SBID President intentionally expands the range, reach and goals of SBID. I see all aspects of practice that touch interiors and those it touches. This is my interdisciplinary design thinking. Past President Diana Celella’s expertise in healthcare, and President-Elect Chris Godfrey’s expertise in residential design have and will evolve SBID’s role as well, and so on...

    What inspired you to work in interior design?

    Since I was a small boy, I was passionately obsessed with the formal visuals of film, advertising, product design and the built environments created to inspire what the future could be. I saw the connectivity in the experiences they promised that sometimes failed. It just seemed natural to become a designer to help make those aspirations real and successful.

    Who has been your greatest source of inspiration throughout your career?

    I will resist a singular answer, as it has been not ‘one’ person, but many over my career and life. I insist on providing this list as they all, in their own way, had a profound influence on my work and career, and still inspire me to this day:

    Arthur Frutiger, Richard Avedon, Eliot Noyes, Paul Rand, Raymond Loewy, Gordon Bunshaft, Myron Goldsmith, Peter Davey, Peter Buchanan, Norman Foster, Richard Rogers, Nicholas Grimshaw, Andrée Putman, Eva Jiřičná, Eva Maddox, Alfred Hitchcock, Luc Besson, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, my clients and my late parents – an engineer and an artist.

    Who is your favourite interior designer?

    Eva Maddox. Eva was a pioneer in design and established the concept of branded environments. She was trained as an Interior Designer and one of the first women to start her own commercial design practice in a renegade leadership role and changed the face of commercial design – still influencing practice models today. I had the privilege of working with Eva in her practice early in my design career – I even wrote to Eva while I was still in design school about her work and how I eventually wound up being hired by her.

    Who is your current go-to supplier?

    This depends on the client, and specifications appropriate for the support of the project outcome. However, my current favourites are:

    • Heartwork: A simple, well-detailed, Brooklyn-based manufacturer of modern office products that stimulate my inner modernist

    • iDOGI: SBID exposed me to them and their over-the-top elegance with Italian glass

    • Maya Romanoff: Hand-made surfacing materials like no other, art for walls really – plus, they are my clients

    • Tecno and Walter Knoll Furniture: Just because it is all so beautiful

    • Vola Faucets: Who doesn’t love faucet hardware in colours, by Arnie Jacobson?

    • Carnegie Fabrics: Function meets fabrics with fashion, durability and beauty in harmony, sheers that provide definitive acoustical properties and upholstery that can stand up to bleach, and they are too clients.

    What do you believe is the biggest challenge for interior designers?

    Owning the full process and responsibilities of their work. There are many entities outside of interior design, especially in commercial, taking on services that are normally part of the interior designer’s responsibilities, such as project management and specifications.

    Interior design is a profession, and it is important that as designers, we drive the full process and own, as well as charge for, what we do. Expanding the roles of who is doing what is ‘sold’ to the client as being faster and cheaper when, in reality, it can compromise quality and the intent of project outcomes. Too many players opens up accountability, liability and responsibility issues. It is our clients, projects and integrity that suffer.

    How do you approach your projects?

    We are client-driven, meaning client brand truths, functional needs, personalities, aspirations and success live in our clients, and set the framework to create exceptional solutions. It is why m+ work reflects individual clients, and there is not a marquardt+ design style.

    What has been your biggest accomplishment to date?

    To stay open as a practice for over three decades in the face of three economic downturns – and my three-year sidestep into corporate interiors leadership.

    What has been your most notable project to date?

    Each one is notable to each client. Honestly, this is too difficult for me to answer, but if forced, the Chicago Shotgun Flat, which has a special place in my heart.

    What advice would you offer to those considering a career in interior design?

    Find your passion and go for it. There are so many career options with an interior design degree. The only limitations are those you impose on yourself. I say this to all my students every semester I teach and mean it.

    What do you believe is the biggest challenge for newly qualified interior designers?

    Being open to the first opportunity and knowing that if it is not right for you, you don’t leave the profession. Use that experience to find exactly what is right for you – because there are options.

    Also, making sure internships are paid. If a firm cannot afford a basic salary for an intern, then they should not be offering them a position. It is just good business, regardless of what an entry-level designer gains in experience – experience should not be substituted for a salary; it is a benefit.

    How do you believe Brexit will impact the industry?

    Time will tell. Until the process and outcome are clearly defined, no one can accurately surmise the impact and plan accordingly.

    What do you think interior designers can do to alleviate the downfalls associated with Brexit?

    Again, until it’s defined, it is hard to advise. I could say, prepare for the worst, so if it isn’t bad, then you are well ahead. But, it is really dependent on your area of practice, self-confidence and ability to adapt to change. Design knows no borders, which may sound Pollyanna, but there are many countries where strict borders exist, and those practices are still prolific. I guess it is how you define downfalls and change with Brexit. No crystal ball here!

    What can we expect to see from you over the next year?

    Increasing involvement in the industry through SBID, new m+ project work and a new m+ website – which is to be seen; especially as we are designing it ourselves.

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