Marcd is a hyper-multi-disciplinary design studio based out of Columbus, Ohio creating interactive environments, products, and identities in both physical and digital space.
Marcd is a hyper-multi-disciplinary design studio based out of Columbus, Ohio creating interactive environments, products, and identities in both physical and digital space. The studio was founded on the idea that a tailored experience can be crafted by strategically integrating multiple design methods.

Interior + Spatial Design
Experience design, signage and wayfinding, temporary and permanent installations, environmental design, interior / exterior architectural design. 

Digital + Interactive
Interactive applications, Unity game design, sound design, responsive desktop and mobile websites, e-commerce, and blogs. User experience consulting, email marketing, ongoing maintenance, Squarespace, Shopify, WordPress, and Cargo development.

Design and development of digital and physical products with the capability of creating in-house prototypes and rendered concepts. 

Graphic + Identity
Brand identity design and development, packaging, logo design, creative direction, naming, illustrations, infographics, and animations. Brand collateral includes packaging, stationary, business cards, album/book covers, posters, and more.

Fron Warehouse Explained

The Game Environment

The digital world challenges a corridor of the physical world, and the experience of leaving one space and entering another. As we exit a building, we get in a car and drive to a new location - forming an experience that happens in the time between these two environments. In the game world, that experience comes in the form of a loading screen. Is it appropriate to force the user to interact with a similar experience - one reflecting that of the physical world? As augmented reality becomes a part of natural life, does the experience of time act differently? Will we experience time similar to how a Sims player ‘can speed up the clock in order to pass long stretches of time’(Sims Fandom)? As the manipulation of time is currently being explored, a discussion can be formed on the relationship of natural decay (or lack thereof) in a digital setting. It may be possible to live forever as we are now, but do we define a limit of our ability to manipulate time and its direct effect on our natural decay? If not, do we lose our fundamental connection to Earth.

Rem Koolhaas’ 1909 Theorem revisits A.B. Walker’s Life cartoon, visualizing the endless possibilities presented by the skyscraper. Koolhaas describes the three architectural mutations to result as follows: the reproduction of the world, the annexation of the tower, and the block alone. Perhaps the most interesting and relevant to the digital environment is the idea of a reproduction of the world. Through the stacking of unrelated typologies, the elevator in this high-rise transports the user to a world of their choice; the artificial levels treated as their own ‘virgin site’. In the case of the skyscraper, there is still a physical attachment and adherence to natural laws of physics. As described by Koolhaas, the building is pulled apart and reconfigured in layers. In the case of a virtual game, the building is pulled apart and reconfigured as scenes. In both instances, the motif of an amalgamation of virgin sites is central. What changes between the two is the way in which we transport from one virgin site to the next.

The scenes, or levels, of a game are often organized in a linear fashion-especially in those with storylines played in single-player mode. Multiplayer scenes, or maps, are more random. In either case, the transportation from one scene to the next is often treated with a careful rhythm. This being the break in game-play that typically follows a climax, e.g. battling a boss or completing a mission. In the case of a high-tension scene, it may be appropriate that the user’s experience transporting from one scene to the next contains little stimuli - restoring homeostasis. But in a game that mimics reality and lacks the exponential climax scene after scene, curating the experience between scenes may be just as important as the scenes itself.

A game solely focused on the user’s experience of the architecture, rather than it being secondary to a certain mission at hand, should think carefully not only about the immediate architectural design but also the corridors that begin connecting these environments. Does a corridor act the same in a game environment as it does in reality? Is it something that adheres to a digital code like the cold concrete and metal of a high-rise egress? Even in reality, oftentimes the utilitarian core of a building is neglected as the effort it would take to overcome the boundaries set in place by the city code aren’t worth what results. Isn’t this the same as a loading screen? The more simple, the less work a computer has to do while it loads to the next scene and the quicker the user can enter their new environment. But is this increasingly quick switch from scene to scene causing the user to take the next scene for granted, and / or undermining tradition architectural procession?

Thoughts associated:

Certain current architectural typologies make sense to exist in a digital world, but others may need re-imagining. For example, burials are more appropriately represented as archives. In doing so, the objectiveness that is inherent to archiving removes the emotions attached to burials in the physical world. Though each culture treats burials and the practices around the matter differently, there is a certain humanness that’s present throughout. The way in which we approach these typologies cannot have the same approach to that of the digital world, and it all takes root in our sensitivity to retaining a healthy relationship to time and its ability to decay.

Computing speed. Travel time (and quality) is correlated to financial status in a real environment. Is that true in the game environment? A car, plane, boat, etc. may mirror computing speed, monitor response time, display quality. A private jet is to an Nvidia graphics card 8-core processor while a coach train ticket is to a. . . Do we create a correlation graph of this? Socio-economic factors affecting digital experience quality.

As Seth Bontrager explores with the digital disparities that take the form of differences in ability and participation in the digital world, it may not be far-fetched to draw correlations to the socio-economic stratification of physical travel quality, efficiency, and accessibility, to that of the future socio-economic stratification of digital travel quality and efficiency as a result of computing speed, display quality, and overall accessibility to computers and platforms for experiencing these environments.

What does it mean to take a 5 hour car ride in a digital environment. Contrary to flying from place to place in something like Second Life, we should retain similar limitations to the physical world in the digital setting. Because there’s no ‘cost’ in changing locations, are those environments taken for granted? Does the monetary and temporal sacrifice that results from traveling affect the overall experience? The game Second Life attempts to parallel the physical world but does so almost in an attempt to replace it.

The Virtual Game of Fron Warehouse

In a virtually-simulated world, perceptual stimuli can be presented to the invited party who can, in turn, experience a degree of presence by manipulating and interacting with elements of this modeled space. And while this experience is not necessarily created to produce a faithful reproduction of a true “reality”, it offers the possibility for guests of Fron Warehouse to step outside of the normal bounds of reality and experience in a new and unexpected way. Gamifying this experience, through wellness tokens and the ability to unlock items in each level, incentives a deeper exploration that may not be as rewarding in the physical experience of exploring a space. Employing elements like Audio Listeners (volume levels associated with proximity to the audio source) incentivize the user to stay in the space where the event is being held, while including a map feature allows guests to orient themselves and view the building in multiple perspectives (allowing them to read the plan through a real world experience).

In the physical world, there are a few rules speakers must adhere to, in hopes of captivating an audience (begin with a story, don’t run over your time, include visuals, etc.). When that talk, performance, or show is placed into the virtual world, a new relationship forms between viewer and screen. There are no longer “bad seats” to view the performance in a space otherwise impossible to have visited, sound quality can be monitored by the viewer, and there is no remorse in leaving a show early. In a growing live- stream economy, this seems like the optimal way to experience. And yet, a virtual space lacks the atmosphere and energy of those experiencing together. Does the intimate experience allow viewers to focus more on the environment and content without these external distractions, or are these minute distractions a vital part of the whole?

Physical Collaborations in the Digital Settings

Parties involved in virtual collaborations do not physically interact and must communicate exclusively through digital channels. As an advantage to a digital age, Fron Warehouse is without the restriction of physical proximity. But what happens when the interaction oscillates from the physical into the digital? Are we able to distort the perceptions of digital and physical, blurring the barriers of collaboration and what it means to experience a simulated environment? Is the intended outcome of such collaboration meant to be the input or the output?

Computer-supported collaboration (CSC) is research that focuses on technology that affect groups, organizations, communities and societies. As a subfield of CSC, Computer-mediated communication (CMC) is defined as any human communication that occurs through the use of electronic devices ( McQuail, Denis. (2005). Mcquail's Mass Communication Theory. 5th ed. London: SAGE Publications.) Dealing with how humans interact with a computer to form and support relationships, digest the information, and make decisions, CMC tries to understand these instantaneous meetings. In relation to the Fron Warehouse, the entire project acts as the CSC, or the output from, whereas the act of entering and playing in the Virtually created Fron Warehouse game is the CMC- the emotional consequences of such collaboration and communication.

Where the project becomes complicated is when trying to identify the nature of such collaboration. On one hand, with the ability to communicate and share ideas in real time and listen and make connections to performers in the virtual reality, the project works as a social software, producing social ties as the primary output. On the other hand, this method of sharing information in a collaborative platform of a Google Doc lends itself to becoming a collaborative software, which produces collaborative deliverables. By supporting collaboration relationships are inherently enabled.   

Thoughts Associated: 

Virtual collaboration reduces the interaction among the team members, which leads to ineffective discussion and adoption of options that are riskier and perhaps less well-considered in face-to-face communication, as said complex task becomes more complex in VC. Moreover due to the anonymity of the expert and invisibility of status effect there arises many issues like pressure to conform, lack of appreciation on the performance and can impact the group processes and outcomes significantly. (Lira, E. M., Ripoll, P., Peiró, J. M., & Orengo, V. (2008). How do different types of intragroup conflict affect group potency in virtual compared with face-to-face teams? A longitudinal study. Behaviour & Information Technology, 27, 107-114. doi:10.1080/01449290600875151)


Revisions result from an open conversation between client and designer of what worked and didn’t in the initial proposal. A public platform like a Google Doc opens up the discussion to all humans (and eventually bots). Is there space for AI to clean up designs? A service where we drop our designs in a folder for a bot to collaborate, clean up, and convert files appropriately (we monitor the changes, the edits, the suggestions, revisions, we collaborate in real-time)? Of course we retain all ownership of design or we risk forfeiting our purpose - a bot possibly interpreting a 3D model to be built by an on-site team of industrial 3D printers. There’s a potential oscillation in the future process of design / build. From human to bot to human to bot.

There’s also an opportunity for anonymous feedback. Opportunities exclusive to virtual collaborations, where ideas can be shared without the restriction of physical proximity. An efficient way of checking our progress. Posting a design to social media with a yes or no poll for consumer testing. hiring Mechanical Turk workers - paying reviewers a few cents for their opinions. We design in a world capable of immediate feedback. Does our desire to retain ownership affect our efficiency?

It may be just as important in this setting to be as explicit as possible in presenting ideas. There’s an inherent miscommunication in digital collaborations, especially when those providing feedback join the process somewhere between the start and finish.

In addition, there should be a discussion of authorship. This idea isn’t necessarily open source design. But there are opportunities for it to become open source. Will / should design be open source? Would that be Utopic or Dystopic? How do you account for pay? Subscription-based design? Pool of 2, 5, 10, 20 designers collaborate all ranging in talent, expertise. Do studios exist?

Can a service like Mechanical Turk form a division of a company for performing low-level tasks and providing general feedback at affordable rates? If this is a possibility, to what degree of involvement in the process does an anonymous worker need for it to merit its place on a resume?

Client Generator

The client generator is random to a certain degree, but still subject to personal bias based on the fact that we determined and controlled the constraints. While the internet is constantly being polluted with samples of identity guidelines and design mockups, it becomes less obvious what is original content and separates designers into three categories: those that create and disseminate the guidelines, those that develop their guidelines through a mixture of their own questions and pulling from the dissmenited guidelines, and those that strictly replicate the dissemination guidelines. It also begs the question: are designers creating a list of guidelines for their potential clients or as a means of passively injecting their ideas and influence into the industry? By creating a client generator we accept that the questions we ask potential clients are already vulnerable to outside influence, and play on the fact that nothing is completely random nor is it completely under our control even when we are the ones ‘creating’ the client.

Test the client generator here.

Download the source file.

Fron Warehouse as CULTURE

By definition, Culture can be described as , “the characteristic features of everyday existence (as diversions or a way of life) shared by people in a place or time” (merriam-webster). In another definition from Websters, “the integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations.” a different meaning can be formed in relation to the virtual and physical hybrid that is Fron Warehouse. In the first definition, Fron Warehouse exists as a culture to specifically produce levels and types of hybrid experiences shared by people (in place and time). Users interact and exchange ideas, while experiencing a new reality alone (together). In the second definition however, culture speaks to the “integrative body of deep knowledge, in which society builds beliefs and reflective behaviors”. In that definition, Fron Warehouse remains fragmented, unable to yet product a deep transferable knowledge associated with culture.

Written by: Jake Pfahl & Malu Marzarotto