1969 - 1980


Launched in 1969 by architect Dewey Thorbeck, landscape architect Roger Martin, computer scientist Steve Kahn, and graphic designer Peter Seitz, InterDesign was Minnesota’s first interdisciplinary design firm. Martin trained at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, where he was mentored by Hideo Sasaki, and later became acquainted with Thorbeck when they each received the Rome Prize in 1964. Both eventually settled in Minneapolis, where Peter Seitz, a friend of Thorbeck’s, was serving as the Walker Art Center’s Design Director. InterDesign was a pioneer in giving each discipline equal footing in firm partnership and practice. The firm’s partners were influenced by the Bauhaus movement’s collaborative work ethic and its aesthetic results, and their ambitions proved to be successful in Minnesota. Seitz’s bold supergraphics, Kahn’s cutting-edge computer-assisted design, and Thorbeck, French, and Martin’s holistic approach to site, structure, and style quickly set the firm apart and gained national attention. Their design for the Minnesota Zoological Garden, featuring a naturalistic landscape treatment, an indoor tropical garden, and a monorail which moved visitors above the animal enclosures, debuted in 1978 and received a national award from the American Institute of Architects. Other noteworthy examples of their architecture and landscape architecture work include the University of Minnesota’s Vincent Murphy Courtyard and Minneapolis’ Grand Rounds, where InterDesign implemented a landscape plan by Garrett Eckbo which included a cohesive furnishing palette of new lighting, street furniture, and signage. InterDesign also designed the visual identities for Minneapolis Parkways, the Minneapolis State Capitol, and St. Paul’s skyways. The firm closed in 1980.