51: martha mcquade

martha mcquade
architect/clothing designer/photographer

Trained as an architect, Martha McQuade lives and works in Minneapolis, MN where she teaches architecture, designs clothing, makes buildings, takes photographs, writes about process + design, and is always looking for phenomena + beauty. More from Martha on her online workbook and Flickr.







on the nightstand:

about 30 issues of the New Yorker magazine, folded over to various articles I’m in the process of reading…


am loving:


how does winter inspire you?

Winter is by far my favorite season. I am easily overstimulated by too many colors in the landscape and the muted colors of winter are a wonderfully calming environment. Winter here in Minnesota means bitter, dry, cold air and lots of snow, which seems to make everything quieter. This has a very focusing effect on me. I feel sharper and more tuned in to texture and light.


what’s one item in your winter wardrobe you can’t go without?

don’t have one item per se, but my material of choice is wool. I dress in layers including a wool t-shirt, sweater and wool socks. I am always cold (which makes you think I would hate winter….), so I often wear a hat and gloves indoors.


what’s your idea of the perfect homemade winter meal?

I make a very spicy vegetarian chili that has a ton of different vegetables and beans and has a complex, layered flavor. My favorite winter meal is bowls of this with tons of add in choices, stacks of tortillas, red wine and a tableful of friends to share it.


what is your winter theme song this year?

I don’t have a theme song, but I’ve got the album Eyelid Movies by Phantogram on constant repeat.


what are three constants in your day?

  • coffee
  • oatmeal
  • candy (in that order)



tell us about the inspiration behind these photos.

For a few years now I’ve been looking at the map and planning a road trip to Kansas City. I have some friends there I wanted to visit, and I’ve been dying to see the steven holl designed addition to the Nelson Atkins museum. When I looked at the map, I was struck by how straight a line the highway between Minneapolis and Kansas City is. I imagined that the landscape would be pretty flat (esp. driving through Iowa) and the idea of the flat landscape and straight line of road was really intriguing to me. In early January, I finally made the drive and I decided to document my trip through photographs, shooting directly east and west, emphasizing the horizon line.


22 thoughts on “51: martha mcquade

  1. I really like how you put your images into a film strip Martha, so we can view them from one to the next, on a horizontal line. And we are so happy you made that drive. :)
    Thanks Shari & Sheri!

  2. lucy and i viewed these photographs together and we were oohing and aahing the whole way through. we especially like the winter field, the line of trees, and the stark horizons. now, knowing that you took these on your way to kc (i thought maybe) makes them even more special.

  3. i love seeing the road trip through your eyes, martha. the midwest is underrated in my opinion. you captured the beauty wonderfully.
    (and i never would have guessed that you were a candy fiend!)

  4. just beautiful. And thank you for the note of those Angkor Wat photographs. I was there several years ago, and most photos do not capture the atmosphere, the feeling of decay and perseverance, or the sense of light and jungle dimness. These are the first photos I’ve seen that are able to transport me back there. The photo of you with your own orange scarf reminds me of the Buddha statues (and monks) with orange scarfs at Angkor! Thanks for this issue, everyone!

  5. this is such a wonderful issue, martha. your love for winter is so inspiring! and i really loved your photographs.

  6. I love winter in Minnesota for the very same reasons – the muffled quiet, the different textures, the experience of such a chill to the bone. I live in California now and pine for Winter. Your pictures are wonderful! Cheers~

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