MACFADDEN & THORPE is a San Francisco-based studio that believes in an expansive approach to design and its possibilities. Often we're asked what kind of work we focus on and this inevitably brings a strange moment in which we try to answer truthfully and yet in a succinct manner. The reality is that our studio purposely does not focus on one particular type of client or medium. One of the great joys of design is that content, goals, and form are ever-changing and of endless variety. Each new client or project is an opportunity for immersion in a new world with it's own unique challenges. We have worked with large multi-national companies and with small non-profits and individuals. Projects types have included identity, brand strategy, publications, packaging, websites, apps, environmental design, art direction and installations. Instead of a narrow lens of specialization, we focus our work through an ethos of quality and craftsmanship, and a boots on the ground approach to bringing ideas to reality. We have an earnest belief in partnership, and the ability of design to improve and clarify. Together, with a focused team of talented individuals, we aspire to create work that is smart, functional and handsome, regardless of medium or market.


Studio co-founders Brett MacFadden and Scott Thorpe started MacFadden & Thorpe after working together at Chronicle Books in San Francisco. They both hold MFAs in Design, from the Cranbrook Academy of Art and Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) respectively, and are on the faculty of the California College of Arts (CCA). They grew up in adjacent towns in Massachusetts.


  • Art Practical. Making Events of Objects: [2nd floor projects], Galss, house and THE THING Quarterly, February 2012.
  • Design Bureau Magazine online, February 2012. Real Rural, Meet the City.
  • San Francisco Chronicle online, January 2012. SF's Thing Quarterly melds function, words, access. Regan McMahon.
  • Little Book of Lettering. Emily Gregory, RotoVision SA / Chronicle Books, 2012. Projects: Hot Type, MT Yearbook, Mission Trail Guide poster
  • Print Magazine, June 2011. Interview with MacFadden & Thorpe
  • Eye Magazine (UK), Issue 75, April 2010
    Typography special section: Make each letter speak out loud. By Liz Farrelly
  • grafik (UK), Issue 179, November 2009. Feature on Southern Exposure Bellwether Poster and project typography
  • Typeface: Classic Typography for Contemporary Design. Tamye Riggs, Princeton Architectural Press, 2009. Featured Projects: BLDG BLOG Book, Dad’s Awesome Grilling Book, Photo/Stoner, Fashion Illustration by Fashion Designers
  • Making it easy: an Interview with Brett MacFadden of MacFadden & Thorpe. Arjen Noordeman, March 2009.
  • 100 Habits of Sucessful Publication Designers. Laurel Saville, Rockport Publishers, 2008
  • New York Times Magazine, June 3, 2007. William Safire: On Language, Typographic Illustration


  • California College of the Arts
    Adjunct Professors
    Undergraduate Graphic Design &
    Graduate Design Departments
    Spring 2010–present


  • Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts
    at California College of the Arts
    Wide White Space Exhibition
    February 2011
  • Art Publishing Now
    at Southern Exposure
    Panel Discussion
    October 2010
  • Smart Design
    April 2010
  • Rhode Island School of Design
    Lecture + Guest Critics
    November 2008
  • University of Georgia, Athens
    Lecture + Typographic Workshop
    September 2007