Tom Marquardt, president of SBID

By Matt Balmer
January 8, 2020

The founder of Chicago-based design studio Marquardt+, and recently appointed president of SBID, is a fan of British high-tech architecture and loves his 16-year-old VW Golf.

When was the business founded and why?

This is our 32nd year! To practice as a truly pioneering interdisciplinary design studio starting in the 1980s, I knew we had to make it happen ourselves, and so we did.

How many staff?

Currently we are 11, with extended consultants. We started in 1988 with three studios and 10 people and consolidated in 2000 to one office with never more than 15. That’s my limit.

Where are you based?

The Andersonville neighbourhood of Chicago in the US.

What is your latest significant achievement or project of note?

Still leading and evolving an even more progressive and in demand interdisciplinary practice, after 31 years! All our projects are significant to those who use them, so calling out one feels unfair.

What is your favourite possession?

Oh boy, that’s a difficult question for a designer to answer. Probably well-preserved low mileage 2004 VW R32, also known as the “BabyShoe”. He has his own Facebook page called “BabyShoe Life” and posts himself, regularly.

I’ve just discovered…

The Atlas I Masland Contract Rug Program that is part of a new client’s offering. Their designs are stunning and applicable to residential, corporate and hospitality (we do not see silos at Marquardt+) and the customisation capabilities are endless…it’s a one stop rug source!

Who inspires me…

Photographer Richard Avedon, director Luc Besson, writer Peter Buchanan, architect Gordon Bunshaft, writer Peter Davey, architect Norman Foster, typographer Arthur Frutiger, interior designer Vince Gammino, marketing communications director Lauren Haras, architect Myron Goldsmith, architect Nicholas Grimshaw, director Alfred Hitchcock, director Jean-Pierre Jeunet, architect Eva Jiřičná, graphic designer Katelyn Landeck, industrial designer Raymond Loewy, interior designer Eva Maddox, industrial designer Eliot Noyes, architect Renzo Piano, interior designer Andrée Putman, graphic designer Paul Rand, architect Richard Rogers, architect and designer Jim Wild, architect and professor Harry Wirth.

I’ve always been a fan of…

British high-tech architecture and interior design, the natural evolution of 2nd Chicago School modernism. Unfortunately we in the states were distracted with post-modernism at the time and lost our way.

My highlight of the last 12 months…

Being appointed president of the Society of British and International Design. It is a humbling career recognition and like coming home as m+ had a small studio in London during our first 12 years as a practice from 1988 to 2000.

My next design trip is to…

Most likely to Paris for Maison & Objet for some overall inspiration and evaluation of new products we may consider and applications we may not have considered.