About us

MACFADDEN & THORPE is a boutique design studio based in San Francisco. Rather than specialize in one medium, client type, or area of inquiry, we focus our work through an overall ethos of quality, and a pragmatic approach to bringing ideas into reality. We have an earnest belief in partnership, and the ability of design to improve and clarify. Together, with our cherished clients, we aspire to create work that is smart, functional and handsome, regardless of medium or market.

Our process

Each project goes through four essential stages of action:
    1. Research
    2. Develop
    3. Resolve
    4. Implement

Although every project has it’s own unique set of goals and deliverables, through this framework we help our clients to simplify the task at hand, leading more directly to payoff. 

Phase 1: Research
Here we gain understanding of the problem to be solved. Through conversations with you, research into the market, and identifying the planned and potential audience, we can build a precise target. Both with new relationships and ongoing ones, this stage defines what the project is, and what needs to be achieved. 

Phase 2: Develop
In P2, our research guides the design development, while leaving room to push beyond the stated scope. We work broadly and rapidly, iterating on many ideas, and then culling them into the strongest options. Our goal at the end of this stage is to have a tight group of hearty schemes, any of which could go on to be a proud finalist. 

Phase 3: Resolve
Through collaboration and feedback with the client, designs are honed into a resolved solution. This solution is not the end of the project, but rather the key transition point between development and implementation. Here we mutually agree we have found what we were looking for, and now it's time to prepare it for the world. 

Phase 4: Implement
In this phase the project transforms fully from concept to reality. It may be the development of a website; the creation of standards and systems for an identity; or more simply the final rendering of an illustration. Along the way it’s adjusted and improved towards a perfect launch.

What we make

Over the years, we’ve tackled a broad range of project types and categories, spread across digital and physical applications, and are ready to embrace new challenges as they come. Many projects are designed with morph in mind: so that they may start out in one medium and happily grow to others. 

  • Advertising
  • Apps
  • Art Direction
  • Branding
  • Creative Direction
  • Custom Typography
  • Editorial & Book Design
  • Exhibition & Environment Design
  • Graphic Installations
  • Identity
  • Illustration
  • Motion Graphics
  • Naming
  • Presentations Design
  • Print Materials
  • Packaging
  • Signage & Wayfinding
  • Strategy
  • User Interface
  • Website Design

Our clients

We’ve been blessed with great variety in clients—from individuals to multinational companies, and seemingly everything in between. What they have shared is an understanding of the value strong design brings to their efforts. We thank them for all they have helped us to make. 

  • Airbnb
  • AIGA
  • ARCC
  • Autodesk
  • Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco
  • California College of the Arts
  • California Sunday Magazine
  • Catherine Clark Gallery
  • Center for the Art of Translation
  • Chronicle Books
  • Dolby Laboratories
  • Dwell Magazine
  • The Exploratorium
  • Facebook
  • Gallery 16
  • Georgia Art Museum
  • The Green Cross
  • Inkshares
  • Knock Knock
  • Levi's
  • Los Angeles Angels
  • Maximus Real Estate Partners
  • McEvoy Foundation for the Arts
  • McEvoy Group
  • Melcher Media
  • Monacelli Press
  • The New York Times
  • Nike
  • OpenTable
  • Partick Thistle
  • Pinterest
  • PLUMB Notebooks
  • Random House
  • Rena Bransten Projects
  • Richard Diebenkorn Foundation
  • Richmond Art Center
  • San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
  • SFAQ
  • Southern Exposure
  • Storey Publishing
  • Studio for Urban Projects
  • Talent Farm
  • The Thing Quarterly
  • Weldon Owen
  • Wired Magazine
  • Xandra