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Dealt By Design

Dealt By Design

Jeni Ruisch

At the intersection of artists and card sharks is the need to hustle. For the sharks, it may be an intrinsic draw toward a gamble or a conquest. For an artist, it may be for business connections, or even their next meal. One thing is true about card games and communities: The more, the merrier.

MarcDeck is a venture that combines the power of a plethora of artists into a handheld stack of playing cards. Each card is designed by a different artist, and the deck includes contact lists with each artists’ contact information, making this varied and sometimes whimsical deck an exceedingly practical method and model of connection. The pair behind the deck, and its parent design company, Marcd, have a handle on the hustle themselves.

Jake Pfahl graduated from Knowlton School of Architecture at OSU. Throughout his education, he focused primarily on the more hypothetical side of the discipline, creating mockups of imaginary buildings and products. Fantastical ideas taken to the next level.

Maria Luiza (Malu) Marzarotto’s mom decided to move to the United States from Curitiba, Brazil with little Malu and her brother. Malu’s interests lie in integrating art and technology to create immersive designs. Together, Malu and Pfahl are the co-founders of Marcd, a hyper-multidisciplinary design studio

Their website shows a cheeky and hypothetical approach to design. The concepts themselves are comments on modern life. The Marcd website is a roster of imaginative touches on the real, as well as the surreal. A tactical pavilion project invites visitors to caress and interact with the materials of a building. A fake finger saves its wearer from sweaty high fives. Colorful concert posters are a window into Marzarotto and Pfahl’s imaginations.

Among all of the hypothetical and experimental design, sits some brick-and-mortar works. The interior of a cafe, and the aforementioned playing cards. A deck of cards (for business and for play) featuring artists and their contact information are exceedingly practical. It serves a real purpose beyond a cultural comment. And the array of personalities behind the artwork are diverse.

“Some of the artists we knew personally, but a majority were discovered through Instagram or hours of searching personal websites. The process was a sort of curation, looking for artists of all different styles and mediums to collectively complement one another while individually standing out in a hand,” comments Marzarotto.

MarcDeck, is a way for the duo to create a diverse network of artists to whom they can relate and create a platform to promote international, underground work. In order to keep the emphasis on the artists involved, they were looking for a simple medium. They approached the United States Playing Card Company, which makes Bicycle playing cards. A deck of cards is a universal household object that appeals to an international audience. Likewise, it’s portable and can easily circulate through diverse environments.

“The process was a sort of curation, looking for artists of all different styles and mediums to collectively complement one another while individually standing out in a hand.” — Malu Marzarotto.

Marzarotto has a plan for her cards as they make their way out into the world.

“We see this as an opportunity to explore alternative ways of engaging with a typical deck, so if anyone knows of prodigious cardists, eccentric magicians, or oversized poker table distributors please let us know!

MarcDeck cards are available at Gramercy Books and The Wexner Center for the Arts. For more,


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