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Marc Ross makes clear choices for casual designs.

'Inspirations include everything'
MARC ROSS, creative director for high-end acrylic furniture manufacturer Spectrum, maintains and recharges his creative spark by staying connected - not with phones or computers, but via travel destinations, art galleries and simple people-watching.
Marc RossMarc Ross brings a fresh view to furnishings.
     "I like to remain active in the world of art as well as take time to observe people, personalities and interactions," said Ross, creative director of Jessup, Md.-based Spectrum and son of Spectrum founder, Pete Ross.
     The medium in which Marc's observations come to life was a clear choice from early in his professional life. Over the past 25 years, his family's business has grown to be recognized as a leader in fabricating acrylic furnishings for residential and commercial applications. The company's literature stresses its commitment to "high quality acrylic furniture that is functional, artistic, modern, strong, fluid and beautiful."
     Marc has embraced this commitment while working to put his own mark as a designer on the company's product lines since 2005, when he joined the family trade as a new graduate of Corcoran College of Art + Design.
     Marc's enjoyment of art began as a child when he engaged in sculpting as a hobby while growing up in the nation's capital. It wasn't until later, while studying graphic and industrial design at Corcoran, that he began to realize he could find a career in furniture design, like his father. During that time, he also realized an interest in modern design movements, and one of his inspirations was the Bauhaus school and its influence on early 20th century furniture design. Marc was quick to note that his inspiration is not limited by specific design styles.
     "My inspirations include everything," Marc said. "From designers of the past to my father, they all inspire me." His passion also extends to exploring the human experience for inspiration. "Talking with people and exploring how they interact, not only with each other but with their furnishings as well, inspires me," he said. As an example, Marc points to a newly introduced rocking chair that he said was inspired by family friends who recently had children. The resulting acrylic rocker was designed with a playful, light and airy design reflective of the new parent and child experience.
     Marc's designs also provide a simplicity that is finding a niche in the casual furniture segment. "Clients love the purity of acrylic and its absolute transparency for any setting," he said. Today's outdoor room is viewed as a good fit for acrylic furnishings due to the material's durability as well as the finished furnishings' ability to let the beauty of the surroundings show through. Marc also noted the comfort required of casual furnishings is a consideration during his design process.
     With comfort as one element, Spectrum's newest additions to its West Collection capture simplicity with good design. "After seven years of designing transitional pieces, we are having fun designing with more of a cutting edge," Marc said. Examples of these additions are found in the grill collection that is reflective of outdoor picnic table and chair designs.
Transparent acrylic materialsTransparent acrylic materials give the Grill Collection’s picnic style a modern edge.
     Metals, wood and upholstery elements are being incorporated into pieces for Spectrum's latest introductions. "However, our primary medium and our niche historically within our family have been acrylics for over 50 years," Marc said. The latest introductions also will include a line of affordable furniture incorporating their signature modern looks without sacrificing quality.
     Marc oversees a design collaborative to accomplish the company's artistic goals as well as to infuse a variety of design perspectives. Designers from California, New York and Washington D.C., as well as internationally from England and Thailand share in Marc's interest in exploring differences in locales, the people and their relationship with their furnishings.
     "I pay a lot of attention to human balance and why someone would want something in their home," Marc said. "Dining chairs or family room chairs, clients take our pieces and relocate and use them as they apply to how they interact within their lives." Every experience is reflective of Marc's primary design philosophy - upon which this acrylic designer is very clear.

Click here to read all the designer profiles in this month's "Behind the designs" feature.


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