- BS, Mechanical Engineering, University of Michigan
- MID, Industrial Design, Rhode Island School of Design
Stephanie Tharp received a master of industrial design degree from the Rhode Island School of Design, and a bachelor of mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan. From 2002 until 2014, she was Associate Professor, and Program Chair, of Industrial Design at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s School of Design. She has work experience with Ford Motor Company, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Armstrong Industries, and amazon.com.
With her husband, Bruce, Stephanie presently runs Materious, a design studio that produces commercial and speculative products. They are currently working on a book project, Discursive Design, which seeks to further legitimize and problematize alternate forms of design practice that extend designers’ cultural agency.
She creates objects with an interest in the physical substance as well as the substantiveness of the designed objects. She hopes to connect with people beyond mere utility in addressing important contemporary psychological-, sociological-, and ideological-concerns. She engages in design explorations that aren’t driven by commercial constraints, but sometimes might be capable of existing within the market. Of special attention is the domestic sphere — a space in which artifacts have a particular capacity for intimate engagement with individuals.
Tharp has exhibited her work nationally and internationally and is the recipient of several design awards including Future Furniture Competition Winner from Interior Design Magazine, and Best in Show from Design Within Reach’s Modern+Design+Function Chicago Furniture Now Competition. She has lectured and presented nationally and internationally, and has received grants from Motorola, The Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children, and the OVCR Arts, Architecture and Humanities Award at The University of Illinois at Chicago.