Design Dude. Coffee Czar. Orange Juice Oligarch. We drop by industrial designer Marc Thorpe’s Carroll Gardens digs.
“As a kid I’d always think ‘man, I don’t know what those brushes are, but when I grow up, I’m using one.”
It doesn’t feel much like a Monday when we arrive midmorning to designer Marc Thorpe’s street level apartment in Brooklyn’s Carroll Gardens neighborhood. The door to the patio is open, and a light breeze blows through the living room. It’s quiet. He and his wife Claire joke that AMs aren’t always like this in the Thorpe household. “Our three kids are overseas visiting with grandparents,” Claire tells us. “It’s a vacation for everyone.”
Originally from Maryland, Marc opened his eponymous industrial design and architectural firm in 2005, after graduating from Parsons in New York. “Looking back, I was too young to understand what was happening then, but I kept at it,” he says. Now his roster of clients include Mercedes-Benz, Under Armour and Bloomberg. Thorpe’s personality matches his designs – spirited, approachable, down-to-earth. As if to punctuate just how down-to-earth he is, he spits the pit out of a ripe cherry.
“Coffee is the first thing we do – and kind of a big deal around here,” Marc explains and we walk inside to the kitchen. “Most mornings, after the shower, it’s right into a cup of coffee here, another cup of coffee down the block at Maybelles or Brooklyn Farmacy, and then another coffee in the city before work.” Marc owns an Alessi Italian espresso maker that looks like a bomb from an old cartoon. “It’s always fun traveling with this thing,” he jokes. When he isn’t using the espresso maker, he has a French press as backup.
After Marc shaves (“I’ve used this badger brush since college, no joke – as a kid I’d always think ‘man, I don’t know what those brushes are, but when I grow up, I’m using one”) and gets dressed, he and Claire take their breakfast on the patio. Marc has a quick cigarette (“We’re trying to cut back – we’re down to a few a day”) and selects his watch for the day – a stainless steel Rolex. “It’s definitely time to go,” he says.
He flings open the refrigerator and takes a quick swig of Tropicana orange juice straight from the bottle. “I’m the only one that drinks it,” he grins.
“Do you remember the opening credits in Melrose Place – with the heartthrob guy in front of the ‘fridge? I wanted to be that guy!”
We walk half a block to Brooklyn Farmacy and Soda Fountain on Henry Street – an updated spin on an old-fashioned soda counter. Marc and Claire order (shocker) coffees with milk. They chat with the young lady behind the counter before strolling down the block, chatting, laughing, smoking. Marc suddenly remembers something: “I read an article in GQ or Esquire when I was 15 or 16 that I still remember.” He takes a sip of his coffee. “They followed this guy in the morning. And it was all about taking the time to be with yourself before you’re thrown into the day. It’s a concept I really try to practice, you know, when I can.”