2009 Fall re:D Magazine - Global Local

Page 1




re:D (regarding Design)


News & Events

Faculty News

09 20 Alumni message

thank you

22 Alumni Profiles



15 Feature: Downtown Local

Feature: China Patterns

06 18 Pathways in pictures

26 Connected

29 Red-Handed

news & events


On September 30, Tim Brown, CEO and president of prestigious design consultancy IDEO, met publicly with Bruce Nussbaum, visiting professor of innovation and design at Parsons, to discuss the integration of design and the social sciences.



For the past year, Parsons students have collaborated with Chulalongkorn University students on a fieldwork method known as “cinemetrics”— combining video, drawing, mapping, and modeling—to develop concepts for improving access to Bangkok’s canalside villages. Their designs were exhibited in Bangkok and presented to local community groups. The initiative is part of Parsons’ Global Exchange Lab (GEL), which unites social research and design to address issues related to global cities. GEL is a collaboration between three of Parsons’ Schools­­— Constructed Environments, Design Strategies, and Art, Media and Technology—and The New School for Social Research in which theories and methods from anthropology, media studies, and design are used to analyze problematic urban conditions and enrich urban design practices. Last year, GEL conducted two other cinemetrics in Asia: in Tainan, Taiwan, with National Cheng Kung University, and in Hong Kong with Chu Hai College of Higher Education. www.globalexlab.info.


PETLab, Parsons’ research lab for developing and prototyping games in the public interest, was in the spotlight when its project Budgetball—which educates college students about the national budget deficit—debuted on the National Mall. Treasury Secretary Geithner played along with White House staffers and the House Budget Committee.



Parsons partnered with Louis Vuitton for Reconstruction, a competition in the Arnold and Sheila Aronson Galleries. Teams of students created pieces by deconstructing historic fashions from the Parsons archive and recombining them with signature pieces designed by Louis Vuitton’s artistic director and Parsons alumnus Marc Jacobs ’84. A panel of experts judged the resulting pieces, and the winning styles debuted at a concert performed by the Nouveau Classical musicians at The New School. See pages 2–3, images 16–18.


In an article about the use of Twitter during the recent protests in Iran, BusinessWeek featured Parsons research fellow Mike Edwards, MFA ’08, a Design and Technology alumnus. Edwards conducted a study showing that many popular tweets were sent from outside Iran. Despite media hype to the contrary, there was no evidence Twitter was used as a mobilizing tool on a mass scale.


Parsons alumni and students swept the 2009 Council of Fashion Designers of America Awards. Alumna Anna Sui received the Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award. In her speech, Sui told the audience that when she was growing up, her biggest dream was to attend Parsons. Marc Jacobs ’84 won the International Award for his work with Louis Vuitton. Jack McCollough ’02 and Lazaro Hernandez ’02 of Proenza Schouler won Accessory Designer of the Year, and Alexander Wang received the Swarovski Award for Womenswear. Parsons senior Niloufar Mozafari was named the CFDA Geoffrey Beene Design Scholar. In addition, CFDA/Teen Vogue Scholarship recipient Rachel Brown is attending Parsons this fall.


The School of Design Strategies and Milano The New School for Management and Urban Policy are playing a leading role in establishing Design for Social Innovation and Sustainability Network (DESIS) USA. Professors and students will use a model of social innovation designed for DESIS International to link New York grassroots organizations— such as food coops, community gardens, and clothing swaps—to local nonprofits. Using a two-year $150,000 grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, Parsons and Milano have established a research team to spearhead this work. DESIS USA will officially launch in spring 2010 with a conference at Parsons. Sustainable design expert Ezio Manzini of DESIS and Milan Polytechnic spoke at Parsons and discussed plans for DESIS USA. See pages 2–3, images 22–23.


The Sheila C. Johnson Design Center presents exhibitions on a range of subjects throughout the year. On display this summer and fall was Dormitorium, an in-depth exploration of the miniature sets, or “décors,” created by the Quay Brothers for their animated films. Upcoming events include Control|Print (November 5–December 13), an exhibit developed with the Royal College of Art in London that explores the intersection of digital production and handicraft in the creation of fine art. A second exhibit, Detour (December 3–January 10), documents architectural projects along Norwegian tourist routes that have attracted international attention, including a collaboration between artist Louise Bourgeois and Swiss architect Peter Zumthor. Finally, The Storyteller investigates the narrative capacity of contemporary works of art to explore political and social events. For more information, visit www.parsons.edu/events. See page 2, images 26–27.



news & events

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news & events

End-of-Year Thesis Shows

1 Iris and Carl Apfel add a dose of bravura to the BFA Static Fashion show 2 The MFA Design and Technology symposium 3 Samantha Sleeper ’09 and Kwame Brako-Adu ’09 at the BFA Static Fashion show 4 Ivy Kirk ’09 with Emily Taylor ’09 at the BFA Static Fashion show 5, 6 Students install work for the AMT thesis show



Research Abroad 10

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7 Students visit the project site of the Targetti Foundation lighting workshop in Florence, taught by Derek Porter and others 8 The villa outside Florence where students developed lighting schemes as part of the Targetti Foundation workshop 9 Illustration faculty and students take in the Bologna Children’s Book Fair 10 At the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, Illustration students participated in the Hi-Q illustrated haiku event; their work will travel in a related exhibit

Fashion Benefit

11, 12, 13 Alumni Marc Jacobs ’84 and Tracey Reese ’84; Sheila Johnson and Donna Karan ’87; and alumna Ashleigh Verrier ’04 and Amanda Ross at the spring Fashion Benefit 14 Alumnus Peter Som ’97 after introducing the program at the spring Fashion Benefit 15 Calvin Klein’s Tom Murry and Francisco Costa with journalist Cathy Horyn at the Fashion Benefit


Louis Vuitton Reconstruction Event

16 The winning design in the Louis Vuitton Reconstruction design competition. Contestants’ designs were worn by performers of the Nouveau Classical Project in concert at Tishman Auditorium 17 Joel Towers, Simon Collins, and Daniel Lalonde of Louis Vuitton, congratulate Min Sun Kim and Yeo Chung Kim, winners of the Reconstruction event 18 Daniel Lalonde of Louis Vuitton North America and stylist Robert Verdi ask contestants about their creation at the Reconstruction design competition


AAS Line Debut 19

19, 20 Ano Okera and Walter Greene enjoy the AAS Fashion Line Debut event; Tamara Albu, director of AAS Fashion Design, addresses the crowd at the Line Debut event 21 Fern Mallis, recipient of the first Parsons AAS Icon Award, Betsey Johnson and Jen Kao, AAS ’05, winner of this year’s Stacey Nipps Alumni Award

Visiting Artists & Critics


22, 23 Ezio Manzini of DESIS and Milan Polytechnic meets with faculty and discusses design, sustainability, and social innovation at Parsons as part of the Design Strategies Dialogues 24, 25 Curator Charlotte Cotton of Los Angeles County Museum of Art and artist and architect Vito Acconci visited campus as part of the Visiting Artists series, summer MFA Photography lectures


On View

26 A “décor” from the Quay Brothers’ Dormitorium show at the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center 27 A detail of a décor in Dormitorium



news & events



The Parsons Scholars program, which provides art and design education to low-income New York City public high school students, partnered with Architecture for Humanity on a design studio. Students developed concepts for park shelters at High Bridge, a pedestrian bridge connecting Manhattan and the Bronx. Students consulted with the local community, explored the latest design modeling technologies, and met with guest lecturers from major firms such as Polshek Partnership.



Visitors to The Sheila C. Johnson Design Center at Parsons are greeted by repeating motifs that span the wall with ambiguous dates and names in hand drawn lettering: “Princess Diana, 12 August 1923,” “SOS Titanic, 3 July 1831.” The piece, Cartes de Visite, is a wallpaper created by Michael DiPietro, a student in the Integrated Design Curriculum. “It’s about the meaning of text. When you read something, you tend to automatically think that it has some kind of truth to it,” he says. Cartes de Visite was the winning entry in a schoolwide student competition.

MASTERFUL Parsons is launching four master’s programs that respond creatively and critically to the rapidly evolving field of design. MFA in Transdisciplinary Design students will engage in projects whose complexity calls for new interdisciplinary approaches. MA in Fashion Studies students will explore fashion as object, image, practice, theory, and concept. The online MS in Design Management program will provide practicing designers with the business skills they need to get ahead in competitive times. The MFA in Fashion Design and Society program will train designers to become fashion leaders and engaged global citizens. Visit www.newschool.edu/thinkparsons.


Parsons students are making their mark on the fashion world, with products gracing stores across the country this fall. Ellen Tracy tapped Parsons juniors to reinvent the white shirt; winning designs sold out at Bloomingdale’s stores this past summer. Legendary Italian shoe and accessory designer Cesare Paciotti debuted a shoe designed by Kwame Brako-Adu ’09 at its New York flagship store as part of the citywide Fashion Night Out. And in its first partnership with Parsons, Henri Bendel introduced a handbag designed by Nanae Takata ’09 in its Madison Avenue store. Parsons also collaborated with Lucky Brand to rethink their classic slouch bag; the winning design, by senior Jordan Richards, will debut in stores this fall.


The Open Society Institute’s Public Health Program, which supports healthrelated nongovernmental organizations, granted fellowships to eight students from Parsons’ School of Art, Media and Technology this summer. Students worked with the AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa in Namibia; the Association for Self-Advocacy in Croatia; the Network of Zambian People Living with HIV/Aids; Hospice “Casa Sperantei,” in Brasov, Romania; and the Kenya Hospices and Palliative Care Association and Health Action International Africa, both in Nairobi, to develop communications plans, facilitate training, and devise effective implementation strategies.


Work by alumni and faculty of the Illustration program have recently made it into the public eye. Bob Sikoryak ’87 published Masterpiece Comics, which gives classic literary works a 20thcentury comic twist. On Tender Hooks is the first monograph of acclaimed alumna Isabel Samaras ’87, whose

pop-surrealist art has attracted a cult following. Ice Age 3, by Peter De Sève ’80, builds on the characters he developed for the first two installments of this popular animated film series.


Parsons’ School of Constructed Environments recently took part in two major lighting design events showcasing its faculty and students. In New York, the school hosted a daylighting workshop as part of the annual Light Fair International. The workshop, taught by faculty member Matthew Tanteri, included an exhibition of work by MFA Lighting Design students at the school’s gallery in Greenwich Village. Parsons also collaborated with the Targetti Foundation in Florence on a workshop led by MFA Lighting Design director Derek Porter and other faculty from Italy, in which an international group of designers developed hypothetical lighting schemes for the historic area surrounding the Palazzo Strozzi and Piazza della Repubblica in Florence. See page 2–3, images 7–8.


The Michael Kalil Endowment for Smart Design fosters understanding of design intersections between nature and technology, supporting a heightened sense of responsibility for the sustainability of built environments. The title of Kalil Fellow is awarded to one or more distinguished recipients annually, as are three $5,000 fellowships to student, faculty, and outside practitioners. Alumni are encouraged to apply. The call for project proposals will go out in December. In February 2010, the Kalil Endowment will present schoolwide events including a public award ceremony and a roundtable discussion. For more information, visit www2.parsons.edu/sce/kalil/index.php.



Parsons appointed deans to lead three of its recently launched schools. Miodrag Mitrasinovic, former chair of Urban and Transdisciplinary Design, was named dean of the School of Design Strategies. William Morrish, former Elwood R. Quesada Chair in Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and Urban Planning at the University of Virginia, is dean of the School of Constructed Environments. And Sven Travis, founder of Parsons’ Design and Technology programs, was appointed dean of the School of Art, Media and Technology. They join Simon Collins, dean of the School of Fashion; Hazel Clark, dean of the School of Art and Design History and Theory; and Joel Towers, dean of Parsons.


Industry veteran and dean of Fashion Simon Collins was one of the “dazzling new thinkers, rising stars, and boldface names” chosen by Fast Company magazine for their 100 Most Creative People in Business list.



Faculty member Zhijian Qian curated the inaugural group show at the new Museum of Chinese in America, designed by Maya Lin. Here & Now: Chinese Artists in New York brings together contemporary artists of Chinese descent to explore cultural, political, ethnic, and artistic themes.


Students and young professionals worked with renowned designers at the Arts of Fashion MasterClass. BFA Fashion director Steven Faerm ’94 helped lead this joint effort of the Arts of Fashion Foundation, Parsons, and the La Cambre School of Fashion, in Brussels.


Faculty Publications


Parsons welcomes 27 new full-time faculty members to campus this year. For a complete list of new full-time instructors, visit www.newschool.edu/ newfaculty. A few new members of the faculty are listed below. Assistant professor of design studies/visual cultures studies Jeffrey Lieber integrates architectural and design history, visual culture, and film studies into his scholarship. Timo Rissanen, assistant professor of fashion design & sustainability, is an academic and practitioner whose work is informed by inventive patternmaking and sustainability. Radhika Subramaniam, director and chief curator of the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center and assistant professor in the School of Art and Design History and Theory, is a curator whose research interests include South Asian urban modernity, cultures of catastrophe, public pedagogy, and social justice. Victoria Vesna, visiting professor of media arts and director of research at the School of Art, Media and Technology, is an artist and scholar who comes to Parsons from UCLA’s School of the Arts.

Laura Auricchio

Jilly Traganou & Miodrag Mitrasinovic

Hazel Clark & David Brody


With the fall issue, “Change Design,” The Journal of Design Strategies (previously The Journal of Design and Management) transitioned to peer reviews from international contributors. Coinciding with the development of a new graduate program in transdisciplinary design, the 2010 issue (edited by Jamer Hunt) focuses on designing for complexity, open source and emergent design, visualizing and mapping complexity, and connective practices and radical collaboration. A call for submissions is forthcoming.

A study of the 18th-century painter Adélaide LabïlleGuiard fills a gap in art scholarship on the era of the French Revolution, which has generally neglected the contributions of women. By Laura Auricchio, School of Art and Design History and Theory. (Getty, 2009) Travel, Space, Architecture develops a new theoretical perspective in architectural and urban scholarship that uses the notion of travel to frame the processes of spatial production. Edited by Jilly Traganou, School of Art and Design History and Theory, and Miodrag Mitrasinovic, School of Design Strategies. (Ashgate, 2009) Design Studies: A Reader presents a range of perspectives on design in themed sections that address history, methods, theory, visuality, identity, and consumption. Edited by Hazel Clark and David Brody, School of Art and Design History and Theory. (Berg, 2009)

Red Riding Hood Redux is a wordless visual narrative and retelling of the traditional fairy tale in five books, each one representing the perspective of a different character. By Nora Krug, Illustration, School of Art, Media and Technology. (Bries, 2009) Nora Krug

Steven Guarnaccia

The Three Little Pigs casts Frank Gehry, Le Corbusier, and Frank Lloyd Wright as the protagonists of a contemporary version of the tale that includes renowned architects living in houses of scraps, glass, stone, and mortar. By Steven Guarnaccia, Illustration, School of Art, Media and Technology. (Corraini, 2009)




Senior Thesis Exhibitions Parsons’ thesis exhibitions took over the campus and satellite venues, marking students’ critical and creative accomplishments as well as moments of public pride. Presented in a number of ways—public events, a show filling the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center, a static fashion show, a symposium for interactive technology, and an exhibition at The Kitchen— the work highlighted each school’s distinct, newly formed “cultures.” Studio work reflected the critical thinking skills developed in the School of Art and Design History and Theory.

School of Fashion BFA Fashion Design candidates showed garments, shoes, and accessories in a static fashion show at the David M. Schwartz Fashion Center and at the Parsons Fashion Benefit and runway show. Far left: Julia Blum; left: Eun Young Choi, Samantha Sleeper; right: Robert FitzSimmons

School of Art, Media and Technology Designed by visiting professor Ivan Kucina, the AMT exhibit temporarily transformed the ground floor of Parsons’ galleries with surprising work, fulfilling Lyn Rice Architects’ vision of a space that expresses the school’s creativity. Anthony Allen, associate director of the Paula Cooper Gallery, curated pieces by Fine Arts graduates on view at The Kitchen. Clockwise from left: Roxanna Vizcarra; Varathit Uthaisri; Maxine Nienow; Doris Yee; Jana Flynn, Caitlin Rueter


School of Constructed Environments Reconfiguring a floor of their building from a workspace into a gallery (shown below, right), architecture, interior, lighting, and product design students showed work articulating the connections between 3D disciplines. Projects for A Good Life, developed for local nonprofits, reflected Parsons’ commitment to civic engagement. Clockwise from left: Karissa Bieschke; Aron Han; Hrolfur Cela

School of Design Strategies Symbolically dubbed Between the Lines, the BFA in Integrated Design exhibit (shown below, left) revealed how students refine their transdisciplinary paths of study, exploring “in between” territories of design. A selection of thesis work by students in the BBA Design and Management program was shared publicly in formal presentations much like dissertation defenses. Below right: Mason McCoy



Portfolio For Vitra’s NYC showroom, Parsons students collaborated on domestic scenes for this year’s ICFF. At left: Cameras and monitors let visitors simultaneously see and experience A Moment with Vitra, a tableau highlighting iconic furniture. Top right: Beyond Nostalgia’s patchwork backdrop echoes the whimsical, handcrafted quality of chairs and ottomans by Hella Jongerius. Bottom right: In Parabox, pieces by Panton and the Bouroullec brothers anchor a scene of domestic clutter, slyly departing from the impersonal tableaux typical of showrooms.

Vitra Vignettes A recent competition sponsored by Swiss furniture manufacturer Vitra brought together students from all of the disciplines of the School of Constructed Environments for the first time to design domestic tableaux displaying Vitra furniture, Artemide lighting, and Ruckstuhl carpeting in original ways. The results ranged from a dining space made primarily of corrugated cardboard to Parabox, the winning design, which integrated the furnishings into a scene awash in everyday items. According to Product Design student Bengt Brummer,

“The project unified students from different departments in the School of Constructed Environments, and I learned so much about architecture and interior design.” The winning team received a trip to Vitra’s Boisbuchet design workshop in Lessac, France. Alfred Zollinger, instructor of the class involved in the project, says, “It’s amazing for Vitra to come to Parsons for inspiration and for students to be trusted to create designs for display in the showroom of such a renowned company.”



Parsons faculty member Benjamin Bacon, MFA ’06, in conjunction with other AMT faculty, devised an innovative creative process for a collaborative class taught in Beijing and Shanghai Interview by Shonquis Moreno An activity popular among the Surrealists, Exquisite Corpse is a game in which players take turns creating written or visual compositions without seeing one another’s contributions until the end. A century after Exquisite Corpse was invented, assistant professor and alumnus Benjamin Bacon, MFA ’06 (Design and Technology), worked with other faculty of the School of Art, Media and Technology (AMT) to adapt it as a tool for design education. Along with Simone Douglas, Jim Ramer, and others from AMT, Bacon accompanied 60 Parsons students to China this past summer on an ethnographic




design expedition. Their working method blended techniques developed for Exquisite Corpse: A Visual Research Collaboration 2008, a project directed by Douglas and codirected by Ramer, with a model known as Input-Process-Output (IPO). IPO charts processes in fields such as computer science, psychology, and biology. Bacon borrowed the IPO model to describe the group’s own creative methodology. The students, from a number of Parsons’ programs, collaborated with counterparts at Tsinghua University in Beijing. Nokia loaned the students mobile phones loaded with their locative service technology, and Professor David Carroll advised students on using the technology for their projects. A dozen teams were then unleashed on Beijing and Shanghai to collect images and artifacts PARSONS’ CHINA of global warming, youth culture, and ethnographic COURSE 2009: experiences from which to produce “outcomes”: THE TEAM audio recordings, performances, photography, videos, Parsons AMT Faculty digital and analog art. Because the teams rotated Benjamin Bacon, Assistant Professor, roles—collecting, processing, and “outputting,” using PIIM | Sven Travis, Dean of AMT| Simone one another’s handed-on materials—the IPO model Douglas, Director of MFA Fine Arts | demanded cross-cultural and multidisciplinary Jim Ramer, Director of MFA Photography | David Carroll, Assistant Professor collaboration and improvisation. The outcomes were of Media Design | Jia Zhang, Adjunct presented in China at the end of the month-long course Faculty | Leanne Wagner, Adjunct Faculty and will be presented at Parsons. Bacon, Douglas, and Tsinghua University Ramer have published a paper about the EC and IPO and Parsons AMT Faculty methodologies, which will be presented at ICERI 2009 Haiyan Huang, Adjunct Faculty, Parsons; and HICAH 2010. They are planning another collaborative Associate Professor, Xi’an University of Technology and Tsinghua University | course in summer 2010 at the China Academy of Art Zhang Ga, Adjunct Faculty, Parsons; in Hangzhou. It is an ambitious program that guides Associate Professor, Tsinghua University students to explore design concepts and ethnographic Parsons AMT Teaching Assistants experiences by deconstructing boundaries through Simeon Poulin, MFA Design multicultural collaboration. Bacon speaks with re:D about and Technology | Sandra Elkind, MFA Photography the summer course in China. Shonquis Moreno: What did the project have to do with design ethnography? Benjamin Bacon: The project

involved exploring differences and similarities between both the cultures and the schools. Two Parsons students knew enough Chinese to go into mah-jongg houses and get invited into the backroom, where they spent time meeting the owners and the owners’ friends, but of course there were other ways students learned about Chinese cultural identity. That’s what I hope the students came away with: cultural insights, gained by interacting

personally with local people and customs, to interpret the similarities and differences between the Chinese culture and our own. A project like Hot Pot reflected that experience in an interactive sound piece generated from recordings of evenings at the mah-jongg house. SM: What did the IPO process look like from day to day? BB: We formed 12 groups by spreading out the disciplines among the teams and splitting up the people who spoke Mandarin. The students had different responsibilities on different days: input, process, or output. In the morning,


Members of Group 1, FabLab, borrowed from a local resident a cart to transport recycled materials to campus, where they created a “wish tree” in the style of Yoko Ono’s out of clothes hangers and bottles. Documenting the process on video, they invited residents to write wishes on slips of paper and hang them on the branches of the “tree.”

The photos shown at the base of these pages, taken by participating students and faculty in China, capture something of the IPO process used to generate work.

we would send the input teams a text message that described their input assignment for that day and what media to use. SM: The text told them where to go and how to collect their input materials? BB: Well, it was not always specific. One

morning, the input directive sent by text was to make reliefs in whatever medium they wanted. On the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square uprising, the text was simple: “Your input has to be white.” [In China, wearing white is associated with death and disconnection.] There was some symbolism there, but

I didn’t want to say anything specific about Tiananmen; I wanted them to investigate what I meant. SM: Can you describe the IPO process and how collaboration takes place? BB: In accordance with the Exquisite Corpse Surrealist idea, each week the student groups move from writing to imaging to painting, change to a different medium, and pass on what they’ve created to the next group. The receiving group can incorporate the passed-on input into their own work, toss it out, or toss out what they were doing—putting it into an archive—and pick up the new idea.




Beijing Sweat is an exploration of youth culture that resulted in a new font. Group 9 was inspired by a Beijing trend in which young couples wear matching shirts or outfits to announce their relationship. The group asked followers of this trend to form the letters of the modern English alphabet with their bodies, then photographed them for the new font, which they dubbed “Beijing Sweat.”

All the teams pass on their work when they switch roles. After input, teams move on to a new phase: process. During process, the group inherits the media or material and can manipulate it physically, virtually, or both. During the output phase, the groups need to produce a finalized object from the process group. This final outcome can be either analog or digital. When input is created, sometimes what is passed on is not the actual artifact but rather a set of rules or journal entries—the lessons, not the product of the lessons. SM: Can you give an example? BB: Sure. In the Obstructed Links project (see page 13), group members began to tie each other to trees with red rope. They were literally tying nature to humans, reconnecting humans to nature through these red ropes, which suggested that they were

starting from a place of being disconnected from it. The group was then given a set of communications rules from another group as input. After layers of critiques, the group created a performance that dynamically emulated a data visualization that incorporated the tying of red rope to different people. SM: So if the original artifacts produced by the Obstructed Links team didn’t turn into the final outcome of the project, what did?

BB: The Obstructed Links outcome became a set of big digital images, as well as an analog data visualization. Team members set up 30 students and a camera, tied themselves together with red rope, and, using communication rules given to them by a previous group, did a visual performance piece, with each person representing a node or data point and the red string that tied him


Obstructed Links, a project by Group 3, was influenced by the symbolic meaning in China of the color red and the practice of binding trees with rope to represent a connection with the tree’s spirit. Group members expressed their connections to nature by using red rope to bind themselves to trees and to one another.

or her representing links between nodes. Based on the input, they needed to move around following specific rules. The outcome of that was a recorded performance video—something between dance and theater—that they manipulated to show the movement of the strings and, partly, the movement of the people. Then they also made a postcard, a grid of cropped images. SM: What did the project have to do with digital and analog? BB: We tried to highlight each, so that if a group was doing something very digital, we tried to bring that into the analog world, and vice versa. What we hoped, and what was successful, was this cross-pollination of digital and analog. We didn’t want students to limit themselves by staying in their safe zones. They’d step out of that area and do something different:

If they were doing data visualization at first, they might end up doing performance. SM: What was the purpose of that “disorientation”? BB: The intention was to allow the students to look at what they made—art or a product—in a different way. That’s how the IPO process really works. You don’t know what packet of information or artifacts you’re going to receive, and you may end up being given a box full of found objects. So how do you take that and apply the creative tools you have to those objects? SM: What did you learn this summer? BB: The methodology. IPO teaches how an overall system—everything from a person to a plant—processes information, whether the information is energy, communication, or something else. It is not a new model, but bringing IPO into a design curriculum




Left: Masked subjects represent the free or restricted access to online media that the American and Chinese group members have. Right: A subgroup of Group 6 created an augmented face mask—wearable technology— with sensors measuring air quality, proximity of objects, and temperature. Colored LEDs embedded in the mask indicate in real time the danger levels these environmental factors pose.

teaches students how to break down their concept, how to build that concept, and how that concept is finally realized. When different groups interact as parts of an overall model, each may first think it has the greatest idea but then learn that the idea can be developed into a much better, broader one. Your idea can chain-react with somebody else’s and become something brandnew that you hadn’t thought of before. SM: How important is collaboration to a good design education, then? BB: One of the most important aspects of design is collaboration. In this day and age, if you cannot work with others around the world, if you can’t set your sights on international horizons—Asia, and China specifically—then you’re missing out on a very large audience. Besides acquiring specific sets of skills, design students should

learn about collaboration, particularly the multicultural aspect of collaboration. The Chinese perspective on the world—and the types of products Chinese people like—is different from a Western perspective, and understanding that will continue to be more and more important. It can’t be ignored much longer. Shonquis Moreno is the New York-based design editor for Gestalten and a contributor to Frame, DaMN, and T magazines.

— For information about the China 2009 and 2010 projects, please visit http://a.parsons.edu/psdtu. For the Exquisite Corpse and IPO Project (ICERI and HICAH), please visit http://a.parsons.edu/~bacon/papers/ec_ipo_iceri.pdf.


Downtown Local Partnering with big New York City agencies takes a special touch. Andrea Ruggiero ’95 and Scott Pobiner discuss how they and other faculty members facilitated learning in real-life local contexts. By Laetitia Wolff

For Parsons, New York City serves as an ideal urban setting for learning and experimentation, offering an excellent subject for study as well as fruitful partnerships. Two recent collaborations with city agencies tested Parsons students’ capacity for visionary thinking in an urban context traditionally shaped by pragmatism, bureaucracy, and constricting specialization. The school and the agencies shared their knowledge in areas ranging from design methodologies to human resources, from professional practices and competitive processes to liability issues. Parsons students won praise from the New York City Department of Transportation, Department of Design and Construction, and Department of Parks and Recreation for their professionalism and broadbased, thoughtful approach to problem solving. Faced with real urban problems, Parsons played the role of an idea laboratory, working across disciplinary lines to generate innovative solutions for a city undergoing profound transformation. For re:D, Laetitia Wolff sat down with Parsons faculty members Andrea Ruggiero and Scott Pobiner and their colleagues IN the New York City partner agencies to talk about the collaborations. Their conversations are excerpted below.

NYC Department of Transportation & NYC Department of Design and Construction PROJECT #1 Faculty: Andrea Ruggiero, Product Design, School of Constructed Environments | Agencies: Emily Colasacco, Director, Urban Art Program, Division of Planning and Sustainability, New York City Department of Transportation; Wendy Feuer, Assistant Commissioner of Urban Design and Art, Division of Planning and Sustainability, New York City Department of Transportation; Victoria Milne, Director of Creative Services, New York City Department of Design and Construction Laetitia Wolff: How did the city go about developing a design brief when engaging with Parsons? Milne: The Department of Transportation [DOT] was about to issue a Request for Proposal [RFP] to professional designers to commission modular systems for

public arts display. We presented it as a test, in a four-week-long workshop, to Product Design students. It was a dry run to see what kinds of issues and conditions would arise and which could be addressed before the release of the official RFP. The framework was

truly an experimental laboratory to gauge some of these early ideas. What were some of the challenges specific to the project? Ruggiero: Designing for the urban space is exceedingly challenging. Everything




has to basically be bomb-, vandalist-, graffiti artist-proof [laughs]. We focused on the Meatpacking District’s triangle outside Pastis restaurant, one of the no man’s lands the city is trying to reclaim. The outdoor display system needed to be adaptable to different settings, from cobblestone to asphalted pavements, movable, and modular to accommodate flat artworks of various sizes, to be viewed from both sides. What was the main lesson students learned from this real-world class? Ruggiero: When they began working with a municipal agency—one of the largest administrations in the world—students had no idea about the competitiveness in the city, not to mention the whole process

of RFPs. They had never considered that all these things are actually designed within a huge set of restrictions, regulations, and constraining conditions. How does the transformation of the public sector impact the role of the designer? Feuer: There’s an ongoing paradigm shift in the definition of New York City streets. New York City is no longer a 19thcentury city. Inevitably, our city is going to continue to grow, and our streets need to evolve to meet the current and future demands of citizens. That means building on innovations that support environmental sustainability, improve mobility, and enhance the quality of life for city residents and visitors. Recent initiatives like the new bike lanes and temporary

public art are projects that require the participation of creative individuals. As streets get redesigned, designers need to bring ideas forward with new approaches and be part of the process. What’s the next step for this partnership between Parsons and DOT? Colasacco: We plan to challenge Parsons students with an assignment that asks them to rethink and improve upon signage in the city, all within the context of the regulations that apply to these markers. We’ll use a brief similar to the one used in Andrea’s class and ask students to develop recommendations. It’s another real-life challenge for these students to embrace!

NYC Department of Parks and Recreation PROJECT #2 Faculty: Scott Pobiner, Assistant Professor, School of Design Strategies; Eduardo Staszowski, Assistant Professor, School of Design Strategies; Miodrag Mitrasinovic, dean, School of Design Strategies | Agency: Nette Compton, Senior Project Manager for Design; Charles McKinney, Chief of Design, Capital Projects Division, New York City Department of Parks and Recreation with Hester Street Collaborative Laetitia Wolff: Describe the process of collaborating with Parks and Recreation. Pobiner: Like all of the School of Design Strategies’ external partnership projects, the partnership with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation dealt with exploration of a new area of research for the partner. The question that we and our partners designed to lead this collaboration was “What will constitute urban recreation in the 21st

century in NYC?” We are interested in understanding, and designing for, the stakeholders of tomorrow’s recreation without losing sight of the rich history of public space in New York City. This question brought us to understand that the design problem is not only about forms of play and recreation in public space, but also about the institutional, organizational, social, and material infrastructure that underlies urban recreation.

What were some of the challenges inherent to those relations? Compton: Parks and Recreation’s main challenge was to figure out how to better engage the community. Given the city’s incredible sociocultural diversity, language barriers, and the cultural preferences and space requirements of each user group, it’s not easy to gather information. We looked at major problems such as the lack of public attendance at community meetings and


fair representation at those meetings. We had to find ways to get the information we needed to develop a new park and to involve the communities in the park for the long term, not just at its inception. How did you reconcile the examination of play and the issue of community interaction? Pobiner: Designing recreational space is about understanding how rules work. But the way people use parks has completely changed, although parks still function as a place for exercising imagination. We now see more nonstandard forms of recreation: Users today play fewer organized games. Digital interaction is more and more a part of how we define our identity and express ourselves: Think Second Life virtual avatars, control pads, gaming equipment. When creating a park, you need to integrate what people do online. The students thought about how to identify emergent changes, how to imagine activities that don’t exist yet, taking into account the influence of digital games within public space shaped by a 19th-century approach. How did students interact with the organizations while conducting their study? Pobiner: The students spent the first part of the class looking at all kinds of park and play models. They attended community board meetings to see how power plays out—between the boards and business groups, semiprofessional groups, and so on. Focusing on the Lower East Side, we worked with Hester Street Collaborative [spearheaded by alumna Anne Frederick ’98], a not-for-profit that works to involve communities in the design of public spaces. We looked at how participatory design can benefit the making of recreational spaces, what is the best research methodology to use, and basically how we can examine design through the lens of play.

What are some of the direct benefits you seek from such collaboration? McKinney: Inspiration and enthusiasm. Talking to academics, I can get insights into how they approach problem solving. I can benefit from their reading on the subject; it’s almost like I’m going to school. I thrive on people’s enthusiasm outside of my normal professional world; they pick up on things that we, as an agency, do not notice anymore. Was your perception of the designer’s role changed by this experience? McKinney: There’s been a huge shift in the way design engages communities: We went from “The designer knows best” to “The community knows best.” Still, it’s up to designers to interpret. Designers don’t just solve problems they were asked to solve; they have the knowledge to redefine the problems, whether they’re technical or social. My hope for students coming out of a design school like Parsons is that they’ll have the motivation and skill to figure out what problems need to be solved, the imaginative capacity to come up with a range of solutions, which may not all be physical, and the technical skill to represent those solutions. Creativity is important, but you need the toolkit! What is the next step in this collaboration? McKinney: We are exploring ways to continue the partnership beyond the semester; we’re preparing an exhibition of student works this fall, for example. With this administration, vitality and service orientation matter. Parsons will have more and more opportunities to work with the government and be part of making the city. It’s no longer about bureaucracy, but about responsible change making.

Project #1: An exploded-view schematic of the proposed x-frame public art display structure for NYC by Roberto Fantauzzi, Vanessa Leung, Eliana Alborta, Jake Shapiro, and Ju Rhee. Polycrystalline Silicon Photovoltaic Cells Nylon


Sintra Stainless Steel Cement Lexan

Project #2: Two strategies developed by students in the Urban Play and Recreation Studio. Top: Oversized badges for “urban annotation” practices. Community members apply the badges to park areas in greatest need of repair or improvement, then record the locations and share the information with city agencies to facilitate repair efforts. Bottom: Students created illustrations representing stakeholders involved in the park redesign project.

OUTREACH COORDINATOR Amy has been working to help connect communities with their local park spaces. She is very amiable and enjoys meeting new people.

PROFILE Age: (25–30) Education: Bachelors Degree Skills: Communicating with people. Experience: Community Volunteering, teaching. Attitude: Willing and eager to learn how to better communicate between the city and communities.

ATTRIBUTES Project Objectives: To help people get invovled with their public spaces. Job Priorities: Communication. Likes: People and organizing. Dislikes: Miscommunication Working Tools: Outreach events. Insights & Critical Issues: Creating/spreading appropriate access to information regarding how to get invovled might help people realize that such organizations exist.

There is nothing more dissapointing than finding out no one knows about our programs.

ACTIVITIES Talking to the designers with community

Receive and request funding for outreach.

Organize outreach for community.

Give classes for volunteers.

References: http://www.partnershipforparks.org/




pathways in pictures: your story, your art


AAS GRAPHIC DESIGN ’00 CHAIRMAN & CEO, SEMEIOTICS, INC. www.semeiotics.com Alum Jimmy Chan began his career with a local fashion venture and now heads up Semeiotics, Inc., a global design enterprise. We invited Chan to trace his career path and share his innovative partner-based business model, which balances “creativity with commerciality.” These pages, designed with Chan, tell his story. When Jimmy Chan met fashion designer Yohji Yamamoto, a colleague found Chan’s enthusiasm disconcerting. “You may be embarrassed, but I’m not,” Chan responded, unperturbed. “Yamamoto is someone I’ve always admired.” Such confidence and respect for creativity characterize Chan’s approach to design and are reflected in his successful career.

Chan tested his paradigm by partnering with a Toronto design firm to found Semeiotics, a multidisciplinary creative agency. When family circumstances took him to Hong Kong, Chan created a local office that was soon designing interiors for Motorola’s Hong Kong offices and partnering with fashion label Evisu to open shops. Chan joined forces in 2005 with

“Any designer can come up with products. What I want with Semeiotics is to produce something I can proudly hold, both physically and philosophically.” Hong Kong-born and Torontoraised, Chan began his career by purchasing Uncle Otis, a local boutique presenting fashion and music in a striking space. With brother Jacky, Chan expanded the business, witnessing the effect on customers of images such as ads and interiors. To harness that power, Chan came to Parsons in 1998, earning an AAS Graphic Design degree. He was then hired as a graphic designer in a Stockholm ad agency before returning to New York. There, he created a business model based on partnerships—rather than clientconsultant relationships—that free projects from market demands. “I prefer to work with people rather than for them,” Chan explains.

influential designer Martine Sitbon to establish a fashion venture, Rue du Mail, and in 2008, with Hong Kong retailer D-Mop, Yamamoto, and Adidas to open a Y-3 store in New York. Each partner gave Semeiotics another office, expanding the agency. Today Chan’s firm is developing services in interactive design and new media and working on collaboration software by Semeiotics Technologies, collections for Rue du Mail, and other partnerships in different design industries around the world. Chan welcomes Parsons students to Semeiotics’ offices to further his mission of “empowering creativity”—a principle he learned at Parsons and practices globally.


pathways in pictures: your story, your art


With Adidas, Yamamoto, and retailer D-Mop, Chan opens a Y-3 store in NYC. Hong Kong office expands services in interactive design and new media.

“Creativity is the soul and inspiration of Semeiotics. Our reputation is built on it.”


Chan and legendary designer Martine Sitbon open the century’s first new Parisian fashion house, Rue du Mail, giving Semeiotics a Paris office.

“In time, you must learn who you are, trust what you believe in, and never doubt yourself.”



EIFFEL POWER Opens Semeiotics, Inc., in Toronto and later an office in Hong Kong, designing for Motorola and partnering with fashion retailer Evisu.

“Partnerships are a fundamental philosophy of Semeiotics. The end product is only as good as the people involved.”


Returns to NYC and develops the business strategy behind Semeiotics.

“If you can’t explain your designs, then you are but a stylist. At Parsons, I learned the ideas behind good design. Education and experience are key.”




Chan closes his Toronto boutique and, after graduating from Parsons, works in an advertising agency in Stockholm for SAAB and SAS.

“Sharing a vision is critical; if a client doesn’t value our creativity, the relationship is doomed from the start.”


SCANDINAVIAN DESIGNS Chan buys into a Toronto boutique, merging music and fashion into a potent marketing concept.

“Always be honest about what motivates you, what you want, and know what you’re good at. Project that through your work and business, and you’ll succeed.”




alumni message

Did you know– You’re a member Thanks to alumni and student feedback, we are now The New School Alumni Association. As a graduate of Parsons, you are a lifetime member of the alumni association and are entitled to all the benefits and services that membership provides. You also have opportunities to take on leadership at the association to help Parsons in a number of ways. Supported by the Office of Alumni Relations, The New School Alumni Association will serve as the umbrella organization for all official chapters and groups. Chapters and groups may be organized by geographic area, school, program, or affiliation. They just need great volunteers to lead them! For more information about the alumni association, including member benefits and guidelines for volunteers, visit the alumni website at www.newschool.edu/alumni.




Reunion 2009 Recap

1 1

The weekend of April 18, 2009, brought nearly 300 Parsons alumni, their guests, and current and former faculty members to reunion festivities at and around Parsons. At events beginning with a Friday evening reception and continuing with Saturday afternoon luncheons, gallery tours, discussions with the dean, and an evening cocktail party in the Puck Building’s Skylight Ballroom, alumni from class years 1947 through 2009 and from all programs reconnected, reminisced, and made new friends.



alumni message

Reunion 2010 Chapter One Two Parsons alumni are already leading out the first official chapter of The New School Alumni Association. The Parsons DC chapter is made up of all the Parsons graduates in the Washington, DC, metro area and is led by co-chairs Dee MacDonald ’75 and Tom Grooms ’75. This group has already started organizing events, networking for career leads, and even fundraising to provide Parsons with scholarship dollars. Parsons DC is our first official chapter, and Joel Towers, dean of Parsons, addressed the group on September 16 as part of the launch. See image 7.

In response to alumni feedback, we have set the 2010 Parsons reunion for the fall. The 2010 reunion honors alumni who graduated in years ending in 0 or 5, with particular emphasis on classes from the 1970s and 1980s and those celebrating their 20th, 25th, or 30th reunion. We are looking to all alumni, though, for input on the format of and programming for this and future reunions and have prepared an online survey to capture your ideas and opinions. If you haven’t yet taken the survey, please visit www.newschool. edu/alumni/parsonsreunionsurvey and share your thoughts with us. Also make sure we have up-to-date contact information for you. Finally, stay tuned for “save the date” information coming in spring 2010; check www.newschool.edu/alumni/parsonsreunion regularly for updates.

1 Wendy Rosica ’85, Lisa Pensenstadler Mauro ’85, Martin Kozlowski ’79, Barry Sanders ’94, Steven Guarnaccia, George Bates ’90, Elisa Bates, Amy Bach ’81, and Yisun Rho ’86 2 Ian Roberts ’05 and Natalie Garber 3 Patrick Hughes, MA ’03, and Marino Isolani ’08 4 Komal Kehar, MA ’06; Brett Allcorn ’09; and Laura Cavaliere, MA ’07 5 Desmond Cheung ’09, Youn Jin Park ’09, Yi Feng ’09, Earlene Go ’09, and Hyosun Yoon ’09 6 Leonard Levine ’59, Blair Laden ’47, Fred Nold ’69, and DeeDee Nold 7 Tom Grooms ’75; Joel Towers, dean of Parsons; and Dee MacDonald ’75 8 Tricia Okin, MFA ’04, and Micheline Hess, MFA ’04 9 Fura Johannesdottir, MFA ’05; Cristina Dias; Jung Sin, MFA ’06; Catalin Lazia, MFA ’05; and Maria Ioveva, MFA ’05






alumni profiles

Parsons graduates engage with the global–local theme collaboratively and on their own, bridging geographical, disciplinary, and cultural contexts. On the following pages, alumni discuss projects that address global perspectives and local communities and their concerns. Much more alumni news can be found in re:D Notes, the online-only supplement to re:D. Make sure we have your email address by sending a message to alumni@newschool.edu so you can keep up with your classmates.

Jessica Weber

Cert., Graphic Design For the last 25 years, Jessica Weber has built a successful graphic design and marketing firm serving an impressive roster of nonprofits. With her team at Jessica Weber Design, Inc., the lifelong New Yorker has raised design standards for clients while partnering with groups whose missions make coming to work a daily joy. Weber has also shared with scores of students the benefits of nonprofit work during her 30-plus years teaching at Parsons. She and her students have helped clients address basic needs like education and food. They designed posters for the prestigious Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans, which provides full-ride graduate scholarships for gifted students. “Nonprofits play critical roles; their passion inspires us and helps students learn to communicate important social messages.” Weber’s next class will create campaigns for New York’s Westside Campaign Against Hunger. “At the end of the day, she asks, “shouldn’t you feel good about where you’ve invested your energy?” View New Americans posters at www.newschool.edu/alumni/soros.

Grace Tsai ’09

BFA Product Design Grace Tsai is a new alum who is tackling a complex problem with an elegantly simple solution. Tsai is working to help balance China’s growing income gap. “If the gap gets bigger, poor migrant workers from the countryside who come to urban areas for jobs won’t survive in the expensive cities and neither will their families, who depend on their income.” As a group, migrant workers comprise about 10% of China’s population but contribute most to China’s economic growth. However, being less educated than their urban peers, they tend to be underpaid and treated poorly. Tsai developed Contact Helpmate, an attractively illustrated booklet that gives accessible information about basic rights and labor contracts, to help educate Chinese migrant workers. It won Parsons’ Product Design Thesis Prize for 2009. Tsai is now in touch with the Chinese government to help her distribute Contact Helpmate throughout China. “I want to make this project happen for real,” she affirms.

alumni profiles

Andrea Ruggiero ’95

BFA Product Design LeighAnn Gill ’09 Charlie Chiang ’09 Georgeana Ortiz ’09

BFA Fashion For their senior thesis, LeighAnn Gill and Georgeana Ortiz decided to design a sustainable fashion line but found that information on the subject was elusive. Joining forces with classmate Charlie Chiang, they began researching sustainability and ended up creating a website and booklets to help small and medium-sized fashion design firms go green. “Step one is taking relatively easy actions that still reap rewards,” says Chiang. “By step 12, designers will be leaving no carbon footprint.” The information ranges from design theory, manufacturing practices, and human resources to lists of sustainable textile mills. Gill, Ortiz, and Chiang hope that other seniors will keep updating information as the science evolves. “At Parsons, you become aware that as a designer you are capable of creating change and you need to be conscious of what you put into the world,” says Ortiz. Like Gill and Chiang, she hopes to make sustainable practices part of a design career.

After graduating, Andrea Ruggiero opened a practice, creating interiors, brand identities, websites, and awardwinning products. (A bike rack he recently co-designed was a finalist in the CityRacks Design Competition.) Ruggiero cites his interdisciplinary training and the skills common to all design disciplines to explain his varied output. Behind every design task, he says, is a universal problemsolving process: “researching a problem, identifying a problem, generating several solutions, and focusing on one solution to present.” Professional success has served Ruggiero well in the classroom at Parsons, where he began teaching in the Product Design program shortly after his graduation. What is it like to teach at his alma mater? “There’s a comfort level in being familiar with the place, and it’s also funny sometimes because I see things from a student’s perspective,” he muses. “It’s also encouraging to see how the school keeps getting better.” For more about a recent project led by Ruggiero, see pages 15–16.

Ritwik Dey ’06

MFA Design and Technology Some data can be digested slowly; some must be interpreted at a glance. Ritwik Dey manages both kinds and helps others navigate data efficiently. His specialty is information design and data visualization, a field he studied at Parsons after earning an engineering degree at the University of Mumbai. “Parsons was one of the few schools that blended design and technology in a way that made sense to me.” Today Dey is a senior interaction designer at R/GA, an interactive design agency where he works on everything from websites to retail spaces. Dey dedicates his time pro bono, along with Dr. Satchit Balsari of Weill Cornell Medical College, New York-Presbyterian Hospital, to develop software that graphically depicts epidemiological statistics. Called EMcounter, the tool facilitates disease control and emergency response efforts in India, Tanzania, the Dominican Republic, and Teheran. “With this project,” Dey explains, “medical professionals can quickly grasp patterns, causalities, and deficiencies in the emergency medicine system.”



alumni profiles

Julia Vakser ’00 Deroy Peraza ’01

BFA Illustration Brooklyn-based Hyperakt Design Group, Inc., was founded in 2002 by Parsons graduates Julia Vakser and Deroy Peraza. Today the firm creates identities, websites, and print design for clients including the global brands Virgin and Camel and civil rights organizations like the ACLU. Vakser and Peraza’s partnership is built on friendship and mutual regard that began at Parsons. “We met on the first day of school,” says Vakser. “We admired each other’s work and always compared it. After 13 years, we still work very collaboratively.” Recently the pair created the Billboard for the People initiative, publicly congratulating President Obama through grassroots-funded ad space in New York City. “We work very organically. One of us can start a project and the other can pick it up fairly seamlessly,” explains Peraza. “We have high expectations for each other’s work. It’s very important to each of us to get the other’s stamp of approval.” www.hyperakt.com

Anna Rank ’93 Moira Matas ’93

MFA Fine Arts When Anna Rank and Moira Matas met in the MFA Painting studio at Parsons, they immediately recognized each other as kindred spirits. “Anna’s work and her approach made a great impression on me,” says Matas. “I felt a strong connection to her because we both look for the complexity and the simplicity in nature.” After attending Parsons, the Uruguayan-born Rank moved to Argentina, where she continues to paint and teach. She has also served as artistin-residence at Altos de Chavón School of Design, Parsons’ partner school in the Dominican Republic. Matas stayed in New York, where she paints, teaches, and works in communication design. The duo collaborated on an art project for the International Vigil of Peace, held in Central Park this fall. They also continue to give each other feedback. “Anna and I speak honestly to each other about our work,” says Matas. “I’d be a different artist if I hadn’t met her.”

alumni profiles

Aidan O’Connor ’08

MFA History of Decorative Arts and Design

Nina Chanel Abney ’


MFA Fine Arts Nina Chanel Abney finds her own swift success in the art world hard to believe. After seeing Abney’s bold, beautiful work at the Parsons Fine Arts Thesis exhibition, representatives of Kravets/Wehby Gallery quickly signed her. Since 2007, Abney has had two acclaimed exhibitions there. She was also selected for the Rubell Family Collection’s prestigious show 30 Americans, featuring pieces by contemporary black artists. Being included in the exhibition, which was on view at the collection’s Miami museum and at Art Basel Miami Beach 2008, “was cool,” Abney says, “because I was with artists that I read about and look up to.” Forbidden Fruit, a recent painting, hangs in the Brooklyn Museum. Although her paintings deal with charged issues, she remains casual to the point of being mysterious when discussing the work. “A lot of people grasp for meaning. I like to let them figure it out on their own.”

After completing her undergraduate degree in archeology and social anthropology at Harvard, Aidan O’Connor hadn’t yet chosen a career. “I loved research and museum work,” she says. An “aha” moment came during a visit to the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. “I thought, ‘This is what I want to do—work with actual objects.’” Parsons’ MA program in the History of Decorative Arts and Design, located within the Cooper-Hewitt Museum, provided the training she needed. Work for the National Design Awards and a design history survey book honed O’Connor’s skills while she focused her studies on 20thcentury design and material culture. Today O’Connor is a curatorial assistant in the Museum of Modern Art’s Department of Architecture and Design, a job she found through Parsons. She recently worked alongside curator Juliet Kinchin on exhibitions of Cold War-era Polish posters and of objects exemplifying “good design” that were displayed by MoMA in the 1940s and 1950s.

James Burr ’10 Hannes Steen Thornhammar ’09

BFA Design & Management Design and Management students Hannes Steen Thornhammar and James Burr created their website Jamspire.com in part to fulfill the need for social networking within the artist community. “We wanted to bring creative people together to share and promote their work and interact with one another,” says Thornhammar. The site, which has around 900 members, functions as an online showcase, offering artists and designers their own galleries in which to upload images of their work. It’s also a virtual workshop of sorts, where participants can get inspiration and feedback from other members, write about art, and share information about events. But Jamspire is also a kind of virtual extension of its founders’ friendship. “Jamspire is the result of what Hannes and I love the most,” says Burr, who graduates in the coming year. “It’s a combination of his love for art and my passion for technology and interface design.” www.jamspire.com




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Angie Wojak: Parsons students and alumni are increasingly interested in entrepreneurship. Can you tell us about how NY Designs helps designers laun ch their businesses?


ArgÜello: We help clients who are considering opening a business star t by writing business plans. The exer cise helps people decide to be freelanc ers or entrepreneurs. We help designers launch their businesses by providing stud io space, business and sustainability training, handson business counseling, and a cutt ing-edge prototype lab. To have a business , you have to own all aspects of it. At first, it’s hard to balance client services and designin g! We assign our designers business advi sors to coach them on all aspects of star ting their company. Many designers begin by working for another company to cultivate skills, then branch out by freelancing and late r open their own businesses. bers

Angie Wojak: Tell us about how mem

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thank you

Supporting Parsons Self -por

trait by

Meg Eld


There are many ways to give back to Parsons. Here we profile two active members of the Parsons community who are helping to further the school’s mission.

Meg Eldredge

Scott Sanders

Parsons phonathon caller BFA Fine Arts

Parsons Annual Fund donor AAS Interior Design ’98

Hi! My name is Meg Eldredge. I’m a junior in the Fine Arts program at Parsons. I transferred here from Parsons’ affiliate in the Dominican Republic, the Altos de Chavón School of Design, to continue studying what’s important to me in a city that is world renowned for its art scene. I started working at the phonathon soon after I arrived at Parsons to connect with people who really understand where I am as an artist and why I’m here. Over the past year, I’ve spoken with hundreds of parents and alumni, updating contact information, informing them about what’s new at the school, and asking for their support for the Annual Fund. I’ve had so many great conversations with people who share my professional interests—or who were just plain nice to talk to. I feel honored when people take the time to share their experiences and advice with me. This fall I plan to return to the phonathon. If you receive a call from me or one of my associates, I hope you’ll take a few minutes to hear a little about what’s going on at Parsons and share your story with us.

Fate brought Scott Sanders to Parsons. After admiring the design expertise of a friend, a Parsons alum, Sanders signed up for a course in interior design. Three weeks in, at the recommendation of his instructor, he enrolled in Parsons’ AAS program. Three years later, surrounded by family and work colleagues from the interior design department at Ralph Lauren, Sanders graduated knowing that life was about to change. And change it did. Ralph Lauren immediately promoted him, and after two years’ time he opened his own firm. Scott Sanders LLC has since become famous for bringing refined, classic design and precise detailing to residential interiors and hospitality design projects. Sanders still experiments with aesthetics and design thinking, a practice instilled during his studio time at Parsons. He says that the most valuable lesson he learned at Parsons is that “ultimate success depends on your work, and your love and enthusiasm for it will set you apart.” Sanders remains involved with his alma mater, supporting the school in different ways. He often hosts classes in his office, and says he cherishes the inspiration he gets from students. Sanders’ commitment to supporting students also makes him a proud Parsons Annual Fund donor.




OUR SUPPORTERS: july 1, 2008–june 30, 2009 $25,000+

Angelo, Gordon & Co. Takis and Evita Arapoglou (P) A|X Armani Exchange Arun and Asmita Bhatia Harlan Bratcher Henry and Andrea Burroughs (P) Jennifer Burroughs (P) Cappellini Tess Dempsey ’88 Beth Rudin DeWoody ’75 Eck Meng Goh Goldman Sachs & Co. Hans-Peter Hamm (P) Anand and Anuradha Mahindra (P) May and Samuel Rudin Family Foundation Tomio Taki Pamela Thomas-Graham

College Central Network Gaetano and Jeanete Crupi (P) Lee and Barbara Danielson (P) Michael Donovan ’69 and Nancye L. Green ’73 Andra and John B. Ehrenkranz Marjorie ’51 and Robert Feeney Debra Gilmore ’81 Häfele America Co. William Hodgins ’63 Harriet H. Holstein (P) Sang Hun Kim (P) Debbie Kuo ’85 Robert and Pauline Kwan (P) Barbara Laux ’99 Joosun and Mi Kyung Lee (P) Aura Levitas Paul and Brenda Liistro (P) Dee MacDonald-Miller ’75 Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation Mark Mancini ’85 The Maurer Family Foundation Hyuk Moon and Jin Hee Park (P) Sandra Davis Owen ’57 Elizabeth ’95 and Robert Pitts Tracy Reese ’84 Steven and Diane Reynolds (P) Paul F. Rosengard Scott Sanders ’98 Franz-Josef Schwarz (P) Denise V. Seegal The Sherrill Foundation H. Virgil and Betty S. Sherrill ’51 Seth Siegel and Rachel Ringler Dr. Sumner A. Slavin (P) Andrew and Karen Spann (P) Celina Stabell ’98 Gary D. Stewart and Linda M. Kane (P) Luis and Maria Suberville (P) Marcy Syms The Sy Syms Foundation Anthony and Patricia Tafuro (P) J. Nicholson and Kakuko Thomas (P) Lee and Marvin Traub Yiu Tung and Flora Wong (P) Marshall Tycher and Sally Kushner-Tycher (P) Nancy Vignola ’76 Wally Findlay Galleries, Inc. Jessica Weber ’66 Eddy Yuen and Katherine Chow (P)


(P): Parent of a current Parsons student.

Ashley Abess ’05 Jayne and Leonard Abess Jayne and Leonard Abess Foundation, Inc. Stephen Berger and Cynthia C. Wainwright (P) The Charles and Yvette Bluhdorn Charitable Trust Dominique Bluhdorn Mario Buatta ’61 Drake Design Associates, Inc. Jamie Drake ’78 The Ford Family Foundation David B. Ford Joseph Gromek Gubelmann Family Foundation, Inc. James B. Gubelmann ’73 and Kate C. Gubelmann ’72 Victoria Hagan ’84 Robert and Sheila Hoerle Sheila C. Johnson Donna Karan ’87 Sidney Kimmel Marie Claire Susan Plagemann Christine and Ed Snider The Christine and Ed Snider Foundation Cordell Spencer and Elizabeth Canino Kay Unger ’67 Alan Wanzenberg Warnaco, Inc. Tetsuo and Haruko Yamamoto


Paul R. Aaron Francis and Frances Abbott (P) Sidsel Taubo Alpert ’71 Graham Arader (P) Arnold and Sheila Aronson Pamela Bell Lucia T. Benton ’00 Rita Blickenstaff (P) Chong Bok and Rokja Yi (P) Jimmy Borynack ’67 Dagmar Bottenbruch and Lavinia Chirico (P) Frick Byers ’96 Jimmy K.W. Chan ’00 Mike and Alice Chen (P) Benny Kung Wing Cheung (P) Owen Coleman ’58

Frank Alvah Parsons Society Members of the Frank Alvah Parsons Society demonstrate their passion for and commitment to Parsons by making gifts of $1,000 or more to the Annual Fund. Members of this prestigious group receive benefits including invitations to lectures and exhibit openings and recognition in re:D. Most important, society members make a difference in the lives of tomorrow’s design leaders. Annual Fund gifts to Parsons provide unrestricted funds that are allocated wherever the need is greatest. These gifts allow Parsons to meet priorities such as scholarships, faculty recruitment and retention, and facilities improvement. For more information, contact Melissa Wolf at wolfmc@newschool.edu.

re:D (regarding Design) Fall 2009 Executive Editor Nancy Donner Editorial Board Jessica Arnold, Latoya Crump, Sean Moriarty, Jen Rhee, Laetitia Wolff Parsons Advisory Board Joel Towers, Hazel Clark, Simon Collins, Miodrag Mitrasinovic, and Sven Travis Managing Editor Julie Novacek Godsoe Editor John Haffner Layden Contributing Writers Rose Cryan, Jake Davis, Shonquis Moreno, Angela Veliky, Laetitia Wolff Alumni Relations Jessica Arnold, Mara Caruso, Latoya Crump, Rachel Denny Art Director Isa Gouverneur Designers Young Choi, Paula Giraldo, Matt Guemple, Tracey Maurer, James Monroe Production Manager Tina Moskin Copy Editor Leora Harris Produced by Communications and External Affairs, The New School Letters and Submissions re:D welcomes letters to the editor as well as submissions of original manuscripts, photo submissions, and/or artwork. Unsolicited manuscripts, related materials, photography, and artwork will not be returned. Please include your year of graduation, degree completed, and major or program. Address Changes Please submit your address changes at www.newschool.edu/alumni. re:D Parsons The New School for Design 79 Fifth Avenue, 17th floor New York, NY 10003 alumni@newschool.edu www.newschool.edu/alumni/newsletters.html PARSONS (760–830) Volume 27, No. 2, October 2009. PARSONS is published six times a year, in July, October, November, December, April, and May by The New School, 66 W. 12th Street, New York, NY 10011. Photo Credits John Haffner Layden (News & Events, Alumni Profiles), Marty Heitner (News & Events, Portfolio, Alumni Message), Sarah Lee (Alumni Profiles), Conway Liao (News & Events), Martin Seck (News & Events, Portfolio), Matthew Septimus (Alumni Profiles), Clint Spaulding/PatrickMcMullan. com (News & Events), Matthew Sussman (Connected), Doris Yee (Portfolio) The New School does not discriminate on the basis of age, race, color, gender or sexual orientation, religion, religious practices, mental or physical disability, national or ethnic origin, citizenship status, or veteran or marital status.


Ingo Fast German-born Ingo Fast’s childhood fondness for drawing scenes of faraway lands is reflected in the award-winning illustrations he creates today. His whimsical landscapes, often depicted in the form of maps, are rendered in a style he developed while studying illustration at Parsons in the 1990s. In this illustration from Walrus magazine, a fisherman in Alberta, Canada, lands a big one—a fish in the shape of the province of Ontario—representing Alberta’s success in luring business away from Ontario. www.ingofast.com




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