Stephanie M. 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 joined U-M’s Stamps faculty in 2014 and has served as the Foundations Director and an Undergraduate Program Co-Director.
She has work experience with Ford Motor Company, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Armstrong Industries, and amazon.com. She has lectured and presented nationally and internationally, and has received grants from the NEA, VentureWell, Proctor & Gamble, Motorola, and The Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children (CLOCC). In 2019, she received U-M’s Provost’s Teaching Innovation Prize.
With her husband, Bruce, Stephanie runs Materious, a design studio that produces commercial and speculative products. They have exhibited their design work nationally and internationally and are the recipient of several design awards. Their recent book, Discursive Design: Critical, Speculative, and Alternative Things, was published by MIT Press in 2019 and seeks to further legitimize and problematize alternate forms of design practice that extend designers’ cultural agency. In this book, they explore how design can be used to affect positive social change.
In recent collaborative work, Stephanie is involved in the development of artifacts, processes and curricula through community engagement that look at how design can support the health and well-being of these communities. Through a recent NEA Research Lab grant, she will do transdisciplinary research that explores the relationship between design, public art and firearm injury prevention.