THE ALUMNI MAGAZINE OF PARSONS THE NEW SCHOOL FOR DESIGN SPRING 2014 WORK IN THE 21ST CENTURY
PARSONS THE NEW SCHOOL FOR DESIGN
NEWS & EVENTS
News & Events
re:D (REGARDING DESIGN) SPRING 2014 For more: www.newschool. edu/parsons/red
Work in the 21st Century Parsons graduates are entering a professional landscape that is remarkably different from what it was just ten years ago. With the growth of entrepreneurialism, today’s students have new career ambitions: producing and marketing their own ideas; finding solutions to problems as well as finding jobs; mining for opportunity in heaps of data. By emphasizing flexibility and critical inquiry, Parsons is helping young designers develop skills and perspectives required to succeed in this entrepreneurial world—and to do so in good conscience. The creative practices shown on these pages are situating resilience, innovation, and social welfare at the heart of the future workplace.
News & Events As the University Center opens downtown, students design for The Mannes Opera, win big in competition, and visit the UN to learn about sustainability
Portfolio New alumni share their student and postgraduation work
Work in the 21st Century The Parsons community is fostering socially oriented innovation throughout the workplace by bringing together design, critical thinking, and social science capacities
Creative Crossroads: Parsons Paris, Then and Now Almost 100 years after Parsons first arrived in Paris, a new home opens there, offering students rich opportunities in an urban center of culture
For re:D’s cover ED NACIONAL, AAS GRAPHIC DESIGN ’09, captured in graphic form the future of work. His design depicts the trends discussed in this issue as complex, layered systems that evolve along both parallel and colliding paths. On a foundation of geometric shapes evoking the past Nacional places symbols of a digitally linked future in which designers’ vision and thinking guide society in new directions. ednacional.com
Regarding Design (re:D) is the magazine of alumni and the broader Parsons community. Learn more about alumni benefits, news, and opportunities at
This past fall, Parsons students swept an Amazon competition that pitted them against other local art and design schools. Parsons, Pratt, SVA, and FIT teams were challenged to style and photograph looks for the Amazon Fashion website home pages in five hours, guided by BRUCE PASK, men’s fashion director of T: The New York Times Style Magazine; IVAN SHAW, photography director of Vogue; and JULIE GILHART, fashion industry consultant. Web page designs were judged on creativity, wardrobe styling, composition, photography, art direction, set design, and fashion editing. The Parsons teams, made up of students from the SCHOOL OF ART, MEDIA, AND TECHNOLOGY and the SCHOOL OF FASHION, won both the menswear and womenswear categories. The $100,000 prize was divided between students and a fund for Parsons scholarships. Winning students will also receive mentoring from CATHY BEAUDOIN, president of Amazon Fashion; STEVEN KOLB, CEO of the CFDA; and ANDREW ROSEN, founder and president of fashion label Theory.
CENTER OF INNOVATION Parsons recently established an incubator program in partnership with the Centre for Social Innovation to help students develop creative, socially innovative ideas. Based at the center’s New York headquarters—which houses social innovators from the NGO, public, business, and academic sectors—the Incubator Project supports five design-led projects initiated by students and alumni of the MS DESIGN AND URBAN ECOLOGIES and MFA TRANSDISCIPLINARY DESIGN programs. Parsons’ Design for Social Innovation and Sustainability (DESIS) Lab—which works at the intersection of strategic and service design, management, and social theory—is also creating programming to support the change makers in residency at the center.
Parsons Alumni— Celebrating Innovation Alumni carry the Parsons name with pride as they share their expertise in professional settings on campus and beyond
Alumni Profiles Industrial Designs
For the first time, graduate students in Parsons’ SCHOOL OF
Giving Back Support the next generation of art and design leaders
Thank You Our Supporters
Red-Handed Lulu Wolf BFA Illustration ’11
20 Ed Nacional, photographed in Park Slope, Brooklyn, by Katarzyna Gruda. Gruda was one of Nacional’s professors in the AAS Graphic Design program.
FESTIVAL EXHIBITION ART AND DESIGN HISTORY AND THEORY and SCHOOL OF DESIGN STRATEGIES —rather than guest
curators—curated the work of their peers for an exhibition in the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center, part of the annual Parsons Festival. In Curating Art and Design, a class taught by JOHN JERARD, CARIN KUONI, and ANDREW ROBINSON, student curators conducted interviews and visited studios and then selected work focusing on process and impact. Titled Making/Meaning, the show featured more than 100 original pieces by students in bachelor’s and associate’s degree programs, representing a diverse group of artists, designers, architects, photographers, filmmakers, technologists, scholars,
strategists, design thinkers, and makers. Works exhibited included interactive digital projects, pieces exploring gender expression, large fabric-based installations, and a collaborative performance by conservatory students from Mannes and performers from Lang’s Dance program. Visitors interacted with the work by listening to recorded artists’ statements, visiting a website cited in exhibition labels, and leaving written feedback. See page 03, image 8
VISITORS ON CAMPUS Among the many prominent lecturers on campus were speakers from the INSIDE (hi)STORIES series, who shared their research on interiors (ALICE FRIEDMAN, MEREDITH MARTIN, JULIET KINCHIN, DONALD ALBRECHT, THOMAS MELLINS, JULIET KOSS, MARIE-LEEN RYCKAERT); energy expert AMORY LOVINS;
AMT Visiting Artists Lecture Series presenters (WU TSANG, ANOKA FARUQEE, ASHLEY HUNT, KATRIN SIGURDARDÓTTIR, RASHAAD NEWSOME, JILL MAGID, TREVOR PAGLEN, KIRA LYNN HARRIS, PEDRO LASCH);
speakers at the School of Art and Design History and Theory’s “Narratives and Design Studies: A Task of Translation” symposium (PHILLIP LOPATE, PETER HALL, ELIZABETH GUFFEY, ALDO CIBIC, ALEX EATON); Fashion Curating Now lecturers (JUDITH CLARK, KAAT DEBO, NATHALIE KHAN, ALEXANDRA PALMER, ANNAMARI VÄNSKÄ); AIGA/NY @ Parsons presenters (IRMA BOOM, NICHOLAS BLECHMAN, DEBBIE MILLMAN, WILL HUDSON, ALEX BEC, ALICE TWEMLOW, JOE MARIANEK); ALEXANDER VON VEGESACK, Vitra Design Museum
curator and founder of Domaine de Boisbuchet; and fashion designers VICTORIA BECKHAM and DONNA KARAN ’87.
NEWS & EVENTS
NEWS & EVENTS
EXHIBITIONS at the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center
1 Phyllis Lambert Visits Parsons PHYLLIS LAMBERT, founder of the Canadian Centre for Architecture, visited an exhibition on Giuseppe Zambonini organized by ROBERT KIRKBRIDE, associate dean of Parsons’ School of Constructed Environments. 2 University Center Opens Board of trustees chair JOSEPH R. GROMEK, New School President DAVID E. VAN ZANDT, actor SARAH JESSICA PARKER, and city officials were in attendance at the University Center opening.
8 Parsons Festival 2014 Making/Meaning, a student curator– organized show, anchors this year’s festival. Visitors listened to recordings of artists’ statements and responded to work through written feedback. 9 “兩岸關係” | “Cross-Strait Relations” | “两岸关系” ARTHUR OU (School of Art, Media, and Technology) organized this exhibition, which presents work by artists who cross borders in their creative explorations of contemporary Chinese identity. Shown here is MING WONG’s, Making Chinatown (Part 3: Veranda) (2012).
3 Bjarke Ingels Leads MArch Studio Architect BJARKE INGELS (left) and DANIEL KIDD (right) led a third-year MArch studio focusing on ways to protect coastal communities from climate-related disasters for a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) competition. 4 Making Private Public SIMON COLLINS, dean of the School of Fashion at Parsons, and GIANCARLO GIAMMETTI discuss Private, Giammetti’s visual diary of his life with couturier Valentino Garavani.
11 Lazy Bytes Lazy Bytes presents work by students from Parsons and three other global design schools who were challenged to “renew our relationship to the digital world” by redesigning TV remote controls. Shown here is Sift TV, a design by Parsons students NICHOLAS CINQUEGRANI, TAMI EVNIN, and LIZA STARK. © EPFL+ECAL Lab.
5 Community Recognition Shown receiving an AIGA medal are alumni NANCYE GREEN and MICHAEL DONOVAN, who head Donovan/Green, a multidisciplinary agency. Donovan is a Parsons board of governors member, as is AIGA medalist BOB GREENBERG, chairman and CEO of R/GA. Photo © Angela Jimenez, courtesy of AIGA.
12 Allen Edmonds Design Competition BFA FASHION DESIGN student MICHELLE BROWN, whose chukka design is shown here, was a finalist in a collaboration sponsored by footwear company Allen Edmonds. Other entrants were HANNAH SMITH, RHEZA TANUDIHARDJO, and ELIZABETH GORDON. The winning design will be produced and sold online.
10 Intimate Science This show unites art, science, and technology in works by practitioners who transcend disciplinary approaches to understand the natural world and engage the public in influencing research. Shown are PHIL ROSS’ Yamanaka McQueen chairs and a table made with the mycelium fungus.
13 Luxury Education Foundation Students from Parsons and Columbia Business School created a visual identity—Let It Melt (shown here)—and a strategic plan, venue design, digital presence, and marketing concepts for the New York Chocolate Show 2014. 14 Xicato Lighting Collab Students in an MFA LIGHTING DESIGN class led by GLENN SHRUM collaborated on Spot the Change, an interactive installation created for Xicato lighting company’s booth at the Light + Building fair, in Frankfurt, Germany. The installation enabled visitors to explore color perception under varying light conditions.
6 Millard “Mickey” Drexler and Paul Goldberger A conversation between MILLARD “MICKEY” DREXLER, chairman and CEO of J.Crew Group Inc., and PAUL GOLDBERGER, Joseph Urban Professor of Design at Parsons, relaunched the lecture series At the Parsons Table.
15 Areaware x Parsons BFA PRODUCT DESIGN students partnered with local design goods firm Areaware to create objects to be sold to benefit charities. SAM FALCO claims that “drinks are defenseless” when faced with his leather-and-steel Bottle Axe opener.
7 Celebrating Fashion Talent ANNA SUI, BFA FASHION DESIGN ’86, in front of her portrait, which was displayed at the book launch of The School of Fashion: 30 Parsons Designers. In the book, SIMON COLLINS, dean of the School of Fashion at Parsons, profiles famous fashion alumni.
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NEWS & EVENTS
NEWS & EVENTS
PARSONS FIRST-YEAR STUDENTS AT THE U.N.
UNIVERSITY CENTER OPENS
Students recently had a unique opportunity to visit the historic Trusteeship Council Chamber of the United Nations for a fieldwork session on climate change. Joined by several experts on the topic, including Ambassador JARL FRIJSMADSEN, head of the Royal Danish Consulate General, they learned how different policy and design initiatives affect climate change at local and global scales. The visit was organized as part of Sustainable Systems, a signature course in the Parsons undergraduate curriculum that gives all first-year students a foundational understanding of scientific and social issues related to the design of resilient urban futures.
The New School’s 16-story campus anchor opened its doors to the public this January. Designed by Robert Duffy of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, it is one of the country’s greenest academic buildings, with a projected U.S. Green Building Council LEED rating of Gold. Spacious and light-filled, the University Center features dormitories, classrooms, a two-story library, a cafeteria, and an auditorium. Throughout the building are places for students, faculty, and the extended New School community to congregate and share ideas. The building was officially opened on Thursday, January 23, with actor SARAH JESSICA PARKER, City Council Speaker MELISSA MARK-VIVERITO, New York City Comptroller SCOTT STRINGER, and Manhattan Borough President GALE BREWER in attendance. Artist GLENN LIGON, whose first permanent site-specific work in New York City was commissioned for the cafeteria, was among those addressing attendees at the evening celebration. The space was inaugurated with events including a conversation between PAUL GOLDBERGER, Joseph Urban Professor of Design at Parsons, and MILLARD “MICKEY” DREXLER, chairman and chief executive officer of J.Crew Group Inc.
Parsons recently partnered with the DreamYard Project, an arts center and art education preparatory high school in the South Bronx, to develop a pilot program that would transform the traditional digital work portfolio for pre-college students. The goals were to give educators tools to better understand the learning histories of their students and to help young people tell their own learning stories while gaining competency with a variety of digital tools. Funded by a $50,000 Hive Digital Media Learning Fund grant, a team of eight educators including Parsons faculty members ANNE GAINES, JESSICA WALKER, and JESSICA CANNON worked to integrate learning portfolios into DreamYard’s classroom curriculum by developing lessons using the platform and devising methods to build community and support less tech-savvy students.
THIRST FOR KNOWLEDGE Programming this year for Proteus Gowanus gallery on Brooklyn’s Gowanus Canal is water-themed. THIRST, a participatory curatorial project that ran from March 22 to April 19, enabled visitors to explore local waterways through an exhibition and workshops. Three workshops were led by LAURA SANSONE (Parsons’ School of Design Strategies), LYDIA MATTHEWS (Parsons’ School of Art, Media, and Technology), and Current Collective—a group of Parsons graduate students who curate projects engaging with the political, social, and poetical dimensions of natural and social systems—with other project partners. THIRST opened with Sansone’s workshop Hydrogen Bonding: A Workshop in Dyeing, Felting and Water-Molecule-Making. In Gowanus Drinks: A Workshop/ Walking Tour of Thirsty Plants, MFA FINE ARTS student JEREMY OLSON and Lang chemistry professor BHAWANI VENKATARAMAN invited participants to tour the Gowanus shores to learn about the environmental and historical impact of the canal. Participants in
the workshop Thirsty People and Body-Mind-Water Aquatherapy played an interactive “Wii” surf meditation game designed by MFA DESIGN AND TECHNOLOGY student BARBARA COMPAGNONI.
ARTFULLY INSTALLED Work by two Parsons faculty members was on view at worldclass art venues in New York. My Barbarian—an artist collective that includes fine arts professor ALEXANDRO SEGADE —created an installation featuring papiermâché masks, projected backdrops, and live performances for the Whitney Biennial. The collective’s 2013 film, Declaration of Infantile Anxiety Situations Reflected in the Creative Impulse, was also on display. From April to June of this year, JEANINE OLESON (School of Art, Media, and Technology) held a residency at The New Museum, where she produced an exhibition, public programs and workshops, a publication, and an experimental opera, collectively titled Hear, Here.
CONTESTED MARKETS Two recent contests with external partners offered Parsons students opportunities to see their designs in the marketplace and raise funds for worthy causes. In the first, Brooklyn-based design goods maker Areaware invited BFA PRODUCT DESIGN students in DANIEL MICHALIK’s Studio IV Concepts class to create whimsical but functional objects that could be produced to benefit global charities. Winners of first, second, and third prizes received cash awards, and Areaware is choosing one to three designs to put into production, with part of the proceeds going to charities identified by the designers. All prototypes were displayed at the Wanted Design fair in May. In the second initiative, online retailer One Kings Lane invited Parsons students to submit entries for a beach towel design competition. Of the almost 200 submissions, about 30 final designs will be chosen to be produced and sold online. Winners receive a cash prize and spend a day at the company’s design offices, learning alongside the product research,
creative, and business intelligence teams. Proceeds of the sale underwrite a One Kings Lane Scholarship at Parsons.
See page 02, images 2, 6
See page 03, image 15
BRIDGING NEEDS The Design Workshop—Parsons’ design-build program in which students perform real-world work for nonprofits—recently completed the Highbridge Project. During a three-year collaboration with the NYC Parks and Recreation department, students redesigned a Washington Heights pool and recreation center, improving the breezeway and lobby and incorporating new changing pavilions and sustainability measures throughout. Their design makes high-demand fitness areas and basketball courts available year-round. Fundraising involved a student-led Kickstarter campaign, contributions, and trade discounts; private support came from DAN TISHMAN, New School board of trustees member DOUGLAS DURST, and others. The Design Workshop’s next project is upgrading a landmarked pool in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.
PARSONS–MANNES OPERA COLLAB This spring, Parsons students worked with peers at Mannes College The New School for Music to produce the opera Il Postino (The Postman), composed by Daniel Catán and based on a fictional account of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda’s exile in Italy in the 1950s. Work began in a cross-divisional class held during the spring semester and led by Parsons faculty members GENEVIEVE JEZICK and JOHN JERARD with Mannes Opera artistic director JOSEPH COLANERI. The group created a set incorporating digital projections, along with costumes and promotional materials such as posters. Skill-building workshops, prop-making sessions, and master classes with industry professionals deepened students’ understanding of design for opera. The course enabled MFA TRANSDISCIPLINARY DESIGN student STEPHANIE BEATTIE “to learn from ALEX KOCH, an intensely creative digital animation practitioner, which broadened my sense of that technology’s potential.” The effort brought together diverse disciplines to create a coherent vision for the opera in its New York premiere, at Hunter College’s Kaye Playhouse. www.newschool.edu/reD-opera
STORIES OF JUSTICE Last October, a team including JULIETTE CEZZAR, director of Parsons’ BFA COMMUNICATION DESIGN and DESIGN AND TECHNOLOGY programs, and alumnus DEROY PERAZA, BFA ILLUSTRATION ’01 and founder of Hyperakt, organized Re3 StoryHack, a hack focusing on social justice. The project brought together changemakers and creatives, along with eight story nominators from nonprofits, foundations, and activist organizations. Each story nominator worked with a creative team to produce an innovative retelling of important stories, finding new ways to make people listen and become motivated to work for change. The teams covered issues including gun violence, economic inequality, and solitary confinement.
PORTFOLIO These recent graduates bring together social and environmental awareness, interdisciplinary methods, and an innovative spirit to amplify the impact of creative practices
DANIELA JACOBS ’13
BFA INTEGRATED DESIGN Daniela Jacobs combines time-honored craft practices and new technologies in jewelry and tableware made with an emphasis on quality. Her company, ARC, produces custom designs for the fashion industry and pieces for concept shops. For her BFA Integrated Design thesis, Daniela Jacobs created a collection of jewelry and decorative objects using small-scale industrial mold-making techniques and traditional craft practices in conjunction with new technologies such as 3D printing. Taking advantage of the interdisciplinary nature of her degree program, Jacobs selected studio courses such as Ceramics and Non-Ferrous Metals as well as theoretical courses like Rethinking Sustainable Business throughout her studies. Her thesis reflects all she learned at Parsons: Made of porcelain and metals, Jacobs’ “future heirlooms” are elegant and durable, designed to stand the test of time in both aesthetic and material terms. Jacobs’ designs have already caught the attention of the fashion world; since graduating, she has produced custom pieces for menswear label HVRMINN and objects for Lou & Grey, Ann Taylor LOFT’s new concept boutique featuring independent designers. Jacobs recently collaborated with the New York–based Textile Arts Center and designer Cara Piazza to raise awareness about sustainable design and production. www.arc-objects.com
Jacobs developed a custom pattern and hinge for the shoulder bag shown below (brass and cotton cord, 4 × 4.5 in.). Her approach to sustainable design results in timeless, long-lasting pieces that owners can enjoy season after season.
Zhou’s Manifesto collection draws inspiration from treatises on efficiently structured societies. This piece, inspired by an agricultural laborer’s uniform, reflects her ideas on utility.
YUNXIANG ZHOU ’13
BFA FASHION DESIGN At Parsons, Yunxiang Zhou developed an awareness of sustainable fashion. Her thesis collection celebrates both pride in one’s labor and utilitarian clothing as a means of promoting sustainability and challenging social values. For Yunxiang Zhou, menswear has always been synonymous with sustainability and functionality. She cites the example of vintage Levi’s, whose practical details are part of their style, as is the sturdy, long-lasting fabric from which they are made. In her thesis collection, Manifesto, Zhou took functionality and durability as her starting point, basing her designs—a series of aprons made from long-wearing materials—on workers’ garments and tools. Zhou considers work—and mastering a craft—a person’s greatest source of pride, and after being named Parsons’ Menswear Designer of the Year and winning Kering’s Empowering Imagination student design competition, she has a lot to be proud of. Now interning in Italy at the venerable menswear firm Brioni after stints at Calvin Klein and J. C. Penney Company, Inc., Zhou still considers her peers and professors at Parsons her greatest inspiration. “Being surrounded by such talent was always humbling,” she explains. “The more I learned, the more I recognized how much I had to learn.” zhouyunxiang.com yzhouportfolio.tumblr.com
RAHUL SHAH ’13
For his Master of Architecture thesis, Shah designed a swimming pool filled with filtered storm runoff as a way to raise awareness about the intersection of architecture and urban water infrastructure. Exorcise Pool, Shah’s thesis project, proposes placing a swimming pool next to Brooklyn’s polluted Newtown Creek. Pool water would come from rain that is filtered through bioswales, landscape features that remove toxins and silt, and then processed at a water treatment facility that also houses amenities for pool-goers. The project reflects Shah’s interest in New York City’s water-related infrastructure—a topic he investigated in Jean Gardner’s Issues and Practices course—and his desire to heighten public awareness of waste and storm water and the role they should play in urban design. “At Parsons, you see architecture’s role in work of this scale, which requires the coordinated efforts of city departments that have a stake in the outcome,” says Shah. Through courses such as the Design Workshop— Parsons’ studio in which students design and build projects with community partners—Shah gained the experience he needed to join Situ Studio, a leader in digital fabrication and design. He now handles design details for new projects in the studio and builds prototypes in the shop.
STORM WATER RUNOFF
Local Water Treatment Facility CLEAN WATER
The Exorcise Pool, shown below, captures storm water that would otherwise overload the water infrastructure and sends it through a bioswale and a local treatment facility housed together with a public amenity.
PEGGY GERTNER ’13
BFA PHOTOGRAPHY Peggy Gertner’s Photography thesis combines videography with traditional portraiture. Today she creates arresting editorial images and art that brings together still photography, digital animation, and sculpture. Gertner visited New York’s Strand bookstore in 2009 and found a text that would inspire her thesis years later: a school yearbook from 1980–1981, belonging to one Jill Barshay. The yearbook evoked a sense of familiarity and mystery for Gertner, with handwritten personal messages giving character to otherwise anonymous portraits. Gertner’s thesis, titled The Yearbook Project, is a video that plays with notions of identity, memory, and reality. Gertner’s video opens with what appears to be a yearbook page whose portraits are missing. Within seconds, 17 figures, all played by Gertner, enter the scene and assemble
as a “living” class photo. The subjects compose themselves and peer at viewers for a minute before exiting the tableau one by one. The effect is both amusing and disorienting. Barshay—whom Gertner found on Facebook—visited the BFA Photography end-of-year exhibition, which featured The Yearbook Project, and declared the video “a perfect homage to junior high.” Since graduating, Gertner has photographed for Bon Appétit and New York Magazine. She currently works with print and digital design as a creative assistant at ROOT studios. www.peggygertner.com
Gertner corresponded with Jill Barshay, the yearbook’s original owner, after connecting on Facebook. She wanted to learn about Barshay’s memories of middle school and her classmates.
ADRIANA KERTZER ’13
MA HISTORY OF DECORATIVE ARTS AND DESIGN Adriana Kertzer is a curator who is passionate about cultural theory and design. She refined her ideas on contemporary Brazilian design at Parsons and now shares them in her book Favelization. Growing up in Brazil and the United States, Adriana Kertzer developed a keen understanding of cultural context and a nuanced view of stereotypes. In Favelization, an e-book based on her master’s thesis, Kertzer examines how some contemporary Brazilian filmmakers and designers employ primitivism through the use of favelas—informal squatter settlements—as a motif to make their work attractive to non-Brazilian audiences. Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, recently published Favelization as part of the museum’s e-book series, DesignFile.
Presented on this page are works Kertzer analyzes in her book, Favelization. Top: Stray Bullet chair (2010) and Pacification Shelves (2012) by Design da Gema. Courtesy of David Elia.
Before Parsons, Kertzer worked as a capital markets lawyer, served as acting assistant general counsel at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and ran her own consulting company. Today she is a member of the curatorial team at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City, working on the exhibition New Territories: Laboratories for Design, Craft and Art in Latin America and overseeing the digital strategy for the show. “Language matters, and design is political,” explains Kertzer. “I hope my research encourages designers to consider the power of cultural tropes in an increasingly global culture.”
Work in the 21st Century Major economic, environmental, and technological shifts have made entrepreneurialism vital to professional success. Parsons practitioners discuss how they are harnessing this trend and others to design a more equitable, sustainable future. by David Sokol
Bottom left: Babilonia Credenza (2010) by Brunno Jahara. Courtesy of Brunno Jahara. Bottom right: Screenshots from the documentary Waste Land (2010): Vik Muniz photographs Tião Santos, head of a trash pickers association, for an artwork; Muniz assembles a composite portrait in his studio (photograph by Vik Muniz); Suelem Pereira Dias in the Jardim Gramacho favela, a scene from Waste Land. Courtesy of Almega Projects and Vik Muniz Studio.
Souda designers, graduates of Parsons’ BFA Product Design program, employ hand processes to make each piece one of a kind; machine tools facilitate productionscale manufacturing. The Souda team, shown in their Williamsburg studio building a Mitre Stool, won the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) Editors’ New Designer 2014 award.
In the last several decades, governments, nonprofits, and businesses have sought out designers for assistance with ever more complex core objectives. The mainstreaming of design thinking is now taking place alongside the localization of manufacturing, embrace of interdisciplinary collaboration, new models of financing, and other changes. The result is that designers are working more entrepreneurially, starting their own businesses and leading change within organizations. Parsons’ method of holistic critical analysis is preparing designers to navigate the 21st-century workplace and steer their journeys toward responsible outcomes. The students, alumni, and faculty featured on the following pages demonstrate how the entrepreneurial designer is making a living while making a difference.
Designing and Making in Cities BFA PRODUCT DESIGN alumni ISAAC FRIEDMAN-HEIMAN, SHAUN KASPERBAUER, and LUFT TANAKA represent a new kind of
design entrepreneur who creates opportunity by integrating design, production, and marketing within the dense creative networks found in cities. Before graduating from Parsons in 2012, the three imagined starting separate designer-maker businesses in a common workshop in Brooklyn. “Once we were in the space together, it became apparent that each of us was inclined to different roles in a design business,” says Friedman-Heiman. They formed Souda later that year, with a product line of objects that began as projects at Parsons. The designers never questioned their decision to establish themselves in New York City. “The community, the accessibility, and the traffic are a huge part of how we’ve been able to develop so quickly,” Friedman-Heiman says, referring to their close proximity to fellow designer-makers, clients, and manufacturers to whom Souda occasionally outsources responsibilities. “We didn’t have the industrial machines or skills needed to sew the sofa cushions we made for the ICFF café,” says Kasperbauer, “but a maker a few blocks from us did. It’s how design here works.” Above: Souda casts concrete Kreten side tables in rubberized fabric molds, a process that gives each piece a unique, organic form. Below: Souda’s Kawa vessels are porcelain slip-cast in leather molds. The Souda designers used these objects and furniture in their design of the 2014 International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) café.
Souda’s model of working with a network of creative and commercial colleagues situates their practice within a design-making trend that parallels the revitalization of American cities, according to DAVID GILES, research director at the economic opportunity think tank CENTER FOR AN URBAN FUTURE. “This form of manufacturing really relies on the exchange of information and ideas with others engaging in similar investigations.” And while so-called “makerhoods” rely on sustainable urban economies, many designer-makers are giving back to the city as part of their ethical practice. Souda, for example, sources PET plastic from Sure We Can, a local nonprofit bottle redemption center that works with homeless people who collect recyclables as part of their livelihood.
Social Entrepreneurship Among the next generation of entrepreneurs are a group launching initiatives that make community needs a priority alongside gainful employment. Designers are leading this sector of social entrepreneurship, and at Parsons, research groups like the DESIS (Design for Social Innovation and Sustainability) Lab and programs offered in the SCHOOL OF DESIGN STRATEGIES prepare emerging talents to innovate in the service of communities. EDUARDO STASZOWSKI, assistant professor of design
strategies and director of the Parsons DESIS (Design for Social Innovation and Sustainability) Lab, says that many of his students arrive at the university attuned to socially engaged work but acquire the tools to work in the field through Parsons’ interdisciplinary curricula. “Our students spend time working on projects in real-world contexts and learning directly from people in the settings where social innovations take place.” Designing Services for Housing—a recent partnership between Parsons, the nonprofit Public Policy Lab, and the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD)—is one project in which students demonstrated the potential of design in social innovation. Participants explored ways to facilitate community input in the development of housing-related services. JOY ALISE DAVIS, a second-year student in MA THEORIES OF URBAN PRACTICE, is pursuing a singular
path in the sector. As a fellow at DesigNYC, a New York–based organization that links designers with
nonprofits needing design services, Davis has focused on defining and measuring the social impact of projects that employ design. Among her research goals is designing tools that promote the right to difference in the creation of culturally inclusive public spaces. “Culture is a major factor shaping the way we perceive and use the built environment. Broadening our view of culture enhances the value of public projects,” says Davis. She is planning to open a consultancy called Design + Culture Lab with RENAE REYNOLDS DIGGS, a first-year student in her program, to develop her practice. The two plan to continue promoting the use of design by nonprofits and developing culturally inclusive measures of its social effects. Above: MA Theories of Urban Practice program students Renae Diggs (left) and Joy Alise Davis (center) interview residents near Diversity Plaza in Jackson Heights, Queens, for their research. Below: A Parsons workshop on interviews and surveys refined Davis and Diggs’ methods.
At right: Blokket—a cellphone signal–blocking sleeve that helps users “unplug” and become aware of technology’s intrusions—began as Ingrid Zweifel’s master’s thesis and became a TWWSTW product. Below: Tanya Prive is one of the three founders of RockThePost, a start-up investing platform. Prive presented Pristine—a healthcare website enabling off-site doctors to assist with surgeries—to accredited investors. To date, the Pristine team has raised $750,000 with the help of RockThePost.
Investment Networks Connectivity is essential for entrepreneurial activity, whether it takes place face-to-face in creative urban communities or through virtual networking. A growing digital infrastructure is connecting social entrepreneurs, designer-makers, and others to investors seeking opportunity in the innovation economy. Such investors are part of the financial networks forming around entrepreneurs such as TANYA PRIVE, BBA STRATEGIC DESIGN AND MANAGEMENT (SDM) ’08, and Alejandro Cremades.
Prive and Cremades founded RockThePost four years ago as a service to help enterprising ventures find funding. “Everyone craves innovation, but the entrepreneurs who are the source of innovation were having the most difficult time getting capital,” says Prive. RockThePost is an online platform that allows investors to purchase equity stakes in start-ups. To date, participating companies have raised $30 million, and Prive says her team minimizes “the friction points between entrepreneurs and startup investors.” “You don’t just put a couple of ideas on a napkin and start running around for fundraising,” says JONATAN JELEN, director of Parsons’ MS STRATEGIC DESIGN AND MANAGEMENT (SDM) program, comparing the new era of crowdfunding with entrepreneurs’ old way of signing investors. Greater connectivity requires entrepreneurs to lay more initial groundwork, he says. “You implement a concept at a much more robust level, you deliver proof of concept and value proposition, and you make sure that people understand it.” RockThePost acknowledges this intensified focus on intellectual capital by helping nascent entrepreneurs achieve development milestones that investors traditionally look for before considering requests for funding. Meanwhile, at SDM, Jelen and his students are incorporating governance into concept development. By envisioning a new idea and also the way the marketplace may adopt or abuse that idea, entrepreneurs can launch an innovation with built-in policies that ensure ethical applications.
Big Data and Data Visualization
According to a report cited in Forbes, 13 percent of U.S. adults were engaged in start-ups in 2012. Global Entrepreneurship Monitor reported that young adults 25 to 34 years of age worldwide represent the biggest group of entrepreneurs launching ventures; many in this group describe their start-ups as innovative.
Big data—data sets too large and complex to be easily handled with standard statistical software—and Web-enabled data aggregation have fueled innovation in the workplace and given rise to fields such as data visualization. Data visualization enables researchers to make complex information understandable in settings where dynamically updated information improves service delivery, such as emergency disaster relief or e-commerce. “I don’t think it’s a coincidence that data visualization and data organization are taking off in parallel with other phenomena in the world of work,” says MANUEL LIMA, MFA DESIGN AND TECHNOLOGY ’05. Noting the link between Big Data and the collaborations that are hatching the next great ideas, he says, “Today’s immense data needs call for a much more widely distributed model.” Yet in preparing his newly released The Book of Trees: Visualizing Branches of Knowledge, Lima studied how the very bigness of Big Data can overwhelm even experts. “Gaining insight and knowledge from a lot of data, and then achieving an impact with it, is the hardest challenge of all.”
As entrepreneurs gain territory in the professional world, innovation will be increasingly difficult to come by. INGRID ZWEIFEL, BFA PRODUCT DESIGN ’10, head of The Way We See The World (TWWSTW), champions intense interdisciplinary collaboration as a means of uncovering opportunities and new solutions. Based at the Centre for Social Innovation, a nonprofit entrepreneurship incubator in New York City, TWWSTW conducts in-depth research for a range of organizations, from local makers to PepsiCo, and provides design support to sustainabilityminded firms. In this work, Zweifel has discovered connections between sharing ideas, taking risks, and innovation. “A collaborative, open spirit catalyzes innovation—what’s good for the group is good for you,” she says. To prepare students for an increasingly collaborative work world, the provost’s office is developing cross-disciplinary “trans lab” courses that would support practitioners like Zweifel. These New School courses will create cross-divisional learning environments that align the university’s social engagement mission with industry needs. Facilitated by JAMER HUNT, director of Parsons’ MFA TRANSDISCIPLINARY DESIGN program, these labs will explore four overarching areas of expanding expertise at The New School—Emergent Economies, Teaching and Learning, Transformative Media Tactics, and Urban Ecosystems. The curriculum will also incorporate collaborative, project-based assignments. The first pilot will launch in fall 2014 and be followed by a broader university-wide roll-out in fall 2015, which will involve students from all graduate divisions. Eventually, labs encompassing all the themes will be up and running, attracting external partners like government entities, community groups, and NGOs, whose projects will help solidify the university’s profile as an innovation incubator.
Under the direction of CHRIS GORANSON, the PARSONS INSTITUTE OF INFORMATION MAPPING (PIIM) is bridging the gap between information and action by marshaling the resources of a whole world of collaborators. Referring to PIIM’s work during the Department of Veterans Affairs Health Design Challenge and recent development of a prototype for Electronic Medical Records, Goranson says, “Rethinking patients’ relationships to their healthcare providers by visualizing health data is a big challenge. Moving a project like that into the open-source arena gave us an ideal opportunity to explore our ideas on a broader scale and gain input from other organizations.” PIIM’s latest open-source tool is Entity Mapper, which helps users identify patterns in qualitative data. By democratizing data visualization, Goranson says, Parsons will foster innovation in the entrepreneurial world. “Grassroots organizations understand best how to serve their communities, for example.” Goranson also recommends the tool for designers’ own research, whether it is about trends in social entrepreneurship, knowledge exchange for makers, investment trends, or the composition of powerful collaborations. “If we can encourage designers to think about data in more critical ways and empower themselves and others, we have succeeded in advancing the central causes of the university.” David Sokol is a New York City–based contributing editor at Architectural Record and a print and online media journalist. Above right: A data visualization created with the use of Entity Mapper, a tool developed at the Parsons Institute for Information Mapping that is intended to improve patient care. Right: The UN Data Flower chart, created in 2011 by the design team FrontWise, depicts India’s responses to the 2010 United Nations Global Pulse survey. Far right: MFA Design and Technology alum Manuel Lima recently published a book on data visualizations.
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NEARLY A CENTURY AFTER PARSONS ESTABLISHED A PRESENCE IN PARIS, YOUNG PRACTITIONERS ARE SETTLING INTO THE UNIVERSITY’S NEW FACILITIES, PREPARING TO LEAD GLOBAL PRACTICES ON CREATIVE PATHS
PARSONS PARIS, THEN AND NOW
DURING A CLASS AT PARSONS PARIS, STUDENTS CONFER BY VIDEO WITH PEERS IN NEW YORK CITY ON A COLLABORATIVE DIGITAL ANIMATION PROJECT. THE VIDEOCONFERENCE CALL ENDS AND THE MONITORS GO BLACK. REFLECTED IN THEM ARE PARIS’ DISTINCTIVE MANSARD ROOFS AND ARCHITECTURAL DETAILS, VISIBLE THROUGH WINDOWS LINING THE CLASSROOM—A CONSTANT REMINDER OF THE CITY’S LAYERED PAST AND FORWARD-LOOKING ORIENTATION.
Although this classroom opened to students in 2013, Parsons has been an integral part of Paris’ art and design culture for almost a century. The intimate relationship between the university and the European capital goes all the way back to 1921, when Parsons became the first American art and design school to open a campus in Paris. At the same time, in New York, a group of prominent progressive scholars were establishing The New School, a kindred spirit in the educational vanguard and Parsons’ eventual home.
1, 2: Parsons Paris’ first home, at 9 Place de Vosges, was a cultural center on the city’s oldest planned square. 3: Today, Parsons’ location in the first arrondissement situates students at the crossroads of Paris’ creative communities. 4: The Parsons Paris Make Lab.
In its early days, Parsons Paris helped raise the profile and enhance the reputation of American design abroad. And Americans benefited from firsthand study of some of Europe’s most important works of art, buildings, interiors, and design houses. Students learning in Paris at the time described the city much the same way current students do—as endlessly inspiring. DANIEL LASHEN, who attended Parsons from 1947 to 1950 and received a certificate in interior design, describes the enduring effects of his study abroad experience in these terms: “Paris transformed the way I thought about space, light, and color and how people relate to one another in interiors. It was a
chance to see what had been created before and inspiration to think about what was yet to be designed. I still reflect on all that I saw in Paris.” Founded in 1896 by the Impressionist painter William Merritt Chase, Parsons was already an established force in design education by the time the school took up residence in Paris. In the following decades, Parsons Paris—then known as the Paris Ateliers— made important contributions to international design, including the iconic Parsons table, created in a studio led by celebrated designer Jean-Michel Frank in the 1930s. Parsons’ tradition of atelier-style courses led by prominent designers continues to this day, but students now can also take courses in disciplines including the social sciences, business and management, and media studies by virtue of Parsons’ status as part of The New School. “The design school that’s nested within a university is unique,” says Parsons Paris dean SUSAN TAYLORLEDUC. “Because French design education is traditionally siloed, our interdisciplinary way of teaching introduces new methodologies and project learning into the French pedagogical landscape.” From its very
“PARIS TRANSFORMED THE WAY I THOUGHT ABOUT SPACE, LIGHT, AND COLOR AND HOW PEOPLE RELATE TO ONE ANOTHER IN INTERIORS.” —DANIEL LASHEN, CERT. INTERIOR DESIGN ’50 beginnings, The New School has maintained an international outlook and provided a home for scholars focused on global currents of thought and political movements. The Parsons Paris curriculum aligns with The New School’s founding principles, demonstrating a commitment to sustainability, a transdisciplinary approach to problem solving, and an emphasis on learning directly from industry professionals. The seven-story Parsons Paris building offers students an ideal setting for this kind of exploration. Like New York, Paris provides a unique urban context in which to consider important social challenges. “Paris’ communities, creative traditions, and resources made learning here special then, when Parsons first sent students overseas, just as they do now,” says DIVA HELMY, a student in the BFA ART, MEDIA, AND TECHNOLOGY (AMT) program at the Paris academic center. “In Paris, you gain exposure to new industries and cultural forces and develop your own perspectives on complex issues.” The advantages extend to students outside of studio design disciplines. Students from Eugene Lang College The New School for Liberal Arts come from New York to study here; aspiring musicians from all over Europe audition here for The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music. “Anyone walking by would have thought this was a performance, not an audition. I was amazed at the level of accomplishment,” says TIMOTHY PORTER, an attorney, jazz mandolin player, and New School board member who recently visited Parsons Paris. The university plans to expand its Paris offerings to include programs particularly well suited to the city’s history and culture, such as Food Design. Students’ access to the arts programming at institutions like the Gaîté Lyrique digital arts and music center, the Palais de Tokyo, and the Centre Pompidou adds to the appeal of Parsons Paris, especially for students interested in hybrid genres. Taylor-Leduc sees Parsons helping to develop such fields. “There’s a real attempt to make learning here a transdisciplinary experience,” she says. “The curriculum ensures that students in Fashion aren’t
studying only fashion. Our classes are intentionally kept small to facilitate exchange between disciplines and degree programs.” This effort includes opportunities to interact with peers studying at Parsons’ New York campus and online and with New School mobility students from divisions across the university. Students from around the world lend other perspectives. The fast-growing student body is notably international— more than 25 nations are represented by its 106 students. Collaborations with local educational and industry partners put students in contact with Paris communities. “Our developing partnerships with institutions like ENSCI –Les ateliers and Le Lieu du Design provide opportunities to work with European students and with rare and specialized collections available only in Paris,” says Taylor-Leduc. Courses exploring the historic collections of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, led by the museum’s staff, are also in development. Current students echo both Taylor-Leduc’s and Lashen’s remarks. “The city’s rich history and creative energy motivate me every day,” says Helmy. Commenting on her bachelor’s program, which bridges the fine arts and technology, she says, “The professors have inspired me greatly and given me the tools to discover new perspectives in the world of digital art.” As home to many leading designers—a number of whom are Parsons alumni—Paris offers students a growing community of practitioners to work with and learn from. Alumni such as award-winning contemporary artist EVAN ROTH (MFA DESIGN AND TECHNOLOGY ’05) have already connected with Parsons Paris. Roth, whose work combines art practice with a hacker philosophy, exhibited pieces in the Parsons Paris storefront gallery’s inaugural show in September 2013. “Parsons Paris offers much more than a study abroad experience,” says Taylor-Leduc. “It’s a global crossroads where the best of design thinking, history, and education meet in a vibrant cosmopolitan capital.”
5: Daniel Lashen attended Parsons Paris in 1950 and completed a certificate in interior design. Lashen’s modern interior rendering, shown here, features Eames DCM chairs, a detail hinting at his program’s embrace of the new.
10: Parsons’ reputation and long history in Paris enable students to learn from leading creative practitioners. In this photograph from 1990, designer Hubert de Givenchy explains fashion techniques and shares industry insights with students at Parsons Paris.
6: In Become Paris, a work by student Diva Helmy, images of historic Parisian statues are projected onto tourists’ faces, suggesting the layers of experience making up an identity. 7: Adult learners were an important part of the Parsons Paris community. Some came to Paris to supplement their studies, while others explored art and design for the first time.
11: Faculty member Jason Glasser takes students outdoors to sketch for his course Drawing/Imaging: Paris.
8: The ground level of the Parsons Paris building includes an exhibition space where year-round programs are offered that connect the public with the academic community.
9: The original Parsons Table. Photographed by George Chinsee. Image courtesy of the Kellen Design Archives/Parsons The New School for Design, with the permission of John Esten.
“PARIS’ COMMUNITIES, CREATIVE TRADITIONS, AND RESOURCES MADE LEARNING HERE SPECIAL THEN, WHEN PARSONS FIRST SENT STUDENTS OVERSEAS, JUST AS THEY DO NOW.”
—DIVA HELMY, BFA ART, MEDIA, AND TECHNOLOGY
PARSONS ALUMNI— CELEBRATING INNOVATION Alumni make Parsons an important part of their lives long after graduation. On campus and beyond, they maintain connections and build Parsons networks, reflect on their learning, and use their expertise to have a positive impact on the world.
The Parsons community impressed design and technology peers at Austin’s South by Southwest (SXSW) festival. MFA Design and Technology students and alumni shared their creative projects at the 2014 Interactive Trade Show and at an alumni gathering in the Austin Contemporary Museum. SXSW attendees interacted with projects like Particle Mace, a physics-based computer game by ANDY
Last October’s Parsons Reunion attracted an unprecedented number of alumni to campus to network and celebrate the talent of fellow alumni. Highlights included a reception, an exhibition, and an alumni panel. Panelists AIMEE KESTENBERG, BFA INTEGRATED DESIGN ’10 (Aimee Kestenberg); CHRISTIANE LEMIEUX, BFA FASHION DESIGN ’97 (DwellStudio); BRADFORD SHELLHAMMER, AAS FASHION DESIGN ’08 (Shellhammer.co, Fab.com); and DANIEL STARK, BFA COMMUNICATION DESIGN ’83 (Stark Design),
WALLACE, DESIGN AND TECHNOLOGY ’12,
and Wearable Ecosystems for Alien Environments, interactive garments created by current students AYODAMOLA OKUNSEINDE and FITO SEGRERA. Several alumni presented at SXSW, including ALISON LEWIS, DESIGN AND TECHNOLOGY ’04, who demonstrated her programmable t-shirt at the “Wearable Computing: Now, Near, and Next Generation” panel; and NAVIT KEREN, MFA DESIGN AND TECHNOLOGY ’13, who spoke on “Designing a Good Death.” ALEX LEE, BFA ENVIRONMENTAL DESIGN ’84, president of the global product firm OXO, is
one of the many alumni who mentor, support, and guide young designers. Parsons Scholars— New York City public high school students interested in art and design who participate in Parsons’ college prep program—visited Lee at his company’s headquarters, where he shared insights on working at a design-led business.
shared business insights and spoke about Parsons’ continuing influence on their careers at “Scaling Up: Parsons Entrepreneurs on Growing a Business,” which was moderated by Parsons board of governors member MICHAEL DONOVAN, INTERIOR DESIGN ’69.
This year’s alumni exhibition, which had Color as its theme, drew more than 600 submissions from Parsons graduates around the world. Held in the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center, the exhibition featured works in a range of media— from paintings and drawings to interactive digital games and fashion—reflecting the Parsons community’s diversity and originality.
Learn more about your alumni community at
5: Even young visitors to the alumni exhibition found ways to interact with the work on view. 6: The career panel drew a crowd interested in strategies for building design businesses. 7: PRABAL GURUNG, AAS FASHION DESIGN ’00, embraced the alumni exhibition’s theme—Color—in his submission, a custom-designed gown for ELETTRA WIEDEMANN, BA LIBERAL ARTS ’07, to wear to the Met’s 2013 Costume Institute Ball. 8: SHEILA C. JOHNSON hosted recently admitted Parsons students, alumni, and Parsons leadership at a reception at her Salamander Resort and Spa.
New School alumni returned to campus to explore the striking sustainably designed new University Center building this winter. The building’s inaugural event featured notable alumni speakers, including TRACY REESE, BFA FASHION DESIGN ’84, who reflected on Parsons’ important role in her life.
1: OXO president ALEX LEE shows Parsons Scholars a wall in his company’s dining area covered with found gloves and mittens, a reminder of OXO’s mission to accommodate human differences with its products.
Several recent gatherings gave alumni opportunities to come together and build the Parsons community across generations. One of these, Design on Madison Square Park, hosted each spring at the Häfele Design and iGuzzini showrooms, was open to Parsons alumni from all disciplines. This year, SCHOOL OF CONSTRUCTED ENVIRONMENTS directors spoke about the accomplishments of recent alumni. Alumni also helped welcome newly admitted students to the Parsons community at a reception hosted by New School trustee and Parsons board of governors member SHEILA C. JOHNSON at her Salamander Resort and Spa this past March. In attendance were JOEL TOWERS, executive dean of Parsons, and Parsons board of governors chair KAY UNGER, BFA FASHION DESIGN ’68, along with board of governors members DEE MACDONALD-MILLER,
3: Alumni interact with wearable technology created by MFA Design and Technology students. 4: TRACY REESE at the University Center opening. Her designs are worn by prominent women such as First Lady Michelle Obama.
2: Among SXSW’s estimated 70,000 attendees were visitors to The New School’s booth; here a visitor interacts with the computer game Particle Mace. 3
BFA ENVIRONMENTAL DESIGN ’75; JULIE GILHART; and DENISE SEEGLE, as well as board of trustees vice chair GARRY CROWDER. Incoming students and their families 8
heard about the university’s unique learning community from Parsons leadership and alumni.
INDUSTRIAL DESIGNS Alumni employ a range of innovative approaches in their work, creating engaging museumgoing experiences, inspired interiors, and successful businesses that win acclaim and reach audiences around the world
ALEJANDRO BARRIOSCARRERO, AAS ’00 INTERIOR DESIGN SCHOOL OF CONSTRUCTED ENVIRONMENTS
Functionality and aesthetics come together in Aimee Kestenberg’s designs. The Tamitha backpack, pictured here, is made of teal pebbled leather and features a contrasting silver zipper and a padded interior pocket to keep fragile items safe.
AIMEE KESTENBERG, BFA ’10 INTEGRATED DESIGN SCHOOL OF DESIGN STRATEGIES
“If the product is fantastic, it will market itself,” says accessories designer Aimee Kestenberg, whose uncanny business sense has powered a meteoric rise. Recently featured in Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list, Kestenberg creates handbag collections that are sold at stores including Nordstrom and Lord & Taylor and at high-end boutiques and department stores worldwide. Her partnership with QVC puts her in front of 80 to 150 million people a week. As an 18-year-old living in Melbourne, Australia, Kestenberg was addicted to Project Runway. The show inspired her to create in New York City and to research Parsons as a place to pursue her passion. “I realized that Parsons was where I needed to be,” she says. In the BFA Integrated Design program, she zeroed in on the skills she needed to combine product design and fashion. After 18 months of working with various luxury design houses, Kestenberg launched her namesake collection. “I thought that once I was up and running, everything would be smooth sailing,” she says, “but that was far from the case.” Her nonstop workload requires a round-the-clock commitment, but Kestenberg wouldn’t have it any other way. “I live and breathe my business.” The youngest board member of the High School of Fashion Industries, Kestenberg raises funds to help talented young designers gain exposure. She inspires students everywhere to stay true to themselves. “It’s important to maintain a point of view, but also to be yourself,” Kestenberg says. “Be open-minded, and remember that true beauty is in the flaws.” www.aimeekestenberg.com
“I loved to play with action figures as a boy,” says Alejandro Barrios-Carrero. Unlike other kids, though, Barrios-Carrero wasn’t acting out scenarios—he was creating entire worlds. As proprietor of ABC, an internationally renowned architecture and interior design firm, BarriosCarrero still employs his rich imagination daily. “I come up with a concept by inventing a story about what the spaces want to be and why.” His work blends outdoor and indoor spaces, a style he observed growing up in Caracas, Venezuela, and refined at Parsons. “One of the most valuable concepts I learned at Parsons was how to bring the outside in and the inside out,” says Barrios-Carrero.
Running an international design practice is not without its challenges, but modern technology and good communication skills allow Barrios-Carrero to manage a stable of global clients and collaborators. “I don’t like designing alone,” he says. “For me the best ideas come from teams.” Those ideas have brought Barrios-Carrero great acclaim. He recently won the James Beard Foundation Outstanding Restaurant Design Award for Juvia, a Miami restaurant that reflects the city’s natural environment and architecture. Accommodating the local context and culture is at the heart of Barrios-Carrero’s work. “The first thing I do when I begin a project is visit the site and try to understand and respect the built environment and surrounding culture,” he says. “I try to come up with design solutions that blend into the existing landscape, making it hard to remember what was there before my addition.” alejandro-barrios.com
Juvia, pictured below, is a rooftop restaurant and lounge in Miami. Barrios-Carrero won a James Beard Foundation award for his design, which blurs the line between interior and exterior. The design includes a vertical garden by acclaimed botanist Patrick Blanc.
BEHNAZ SARAFPOUR, BFA ’92 FASHION DESIGN SCHOOL OF FASHION
Local Projects employs digital technology to engage a new generation of museumgoers. The firm created Gallery One, an interactive visitor experience based on play, intuition, and creativity, for the Cleveland Museum of Art.
TIYA GORDON, BFA ’00 ILLUSTRATION SCHOOL OF ART, MEDIA, AND TECHNOLOGY
A screening at Cannes is often the pinnacle of a career, but for Tiya Gordon, it was just the beginning. She was at the festival showing her experimental film Desert Beautiful, a video combining archival and digitally manipulated materials, which had been her thesis. It was the early days of digital animation, and Gordon wanted to master a visual language through the pioneering curriculum taught by faculty including Anezka Sebek. Now, as Local Projects Studio Director, Gordon works with her team at the New York– based media design firm to reimagine the way digital media is integrated into museums. Local Projects’ work for clients like the Cleveland Museum of Art and the 9/11 Memorial earned the firm a 2013 National Design Award. Gordon sees herself more as a producer than a creator. “I assemble design teams that turn ideas into reality,” she says. The results include an interface that enables audiences to explore museum collections through gestures—a project that hints at the future of museum experience. “We’re engaging visitors in ways they haven’t been engaged before.”
Fashion designer Behnaz Sarafpour has built a successful career on deliberate choices. Yet she arrived at Parsons by chance. “I came for a summer program with my best friend,” Sarafpour explains, “and loved it so much that I never left!” Believing that fashion “mirrors what is important in our society” and embodies our vision of the future, Sarafpour began working with ecofriendly materials in 2008 to model a more sustainable lifestyle. Today her collections’ classic silhouettes, rich details, and environmentally friendly materials reflect the interplay between her own values and personality and those of the women who wear her clothes. Sarafpour was recently recognized for her contributions to the field with a prestigious National Design Award. While designing collections under her own name and partnering with brands like Target (she was the first American to create a capsule collection for the successful Go International campaign), Sarafpour has stayed connected with her alma mater. “Parsons has always been the first place I looked to for recruiting creative talent,” she says. What keeps her designing? “It never feels like work.” www.behnazsarafpour.com
localprojects.net For her fall 2009 ready-to-wear collection, Sarafpour created a series of elegant, neutral-toned silhouettes. Pictured here is an asymmetrical tunic made of double-faced stretch crepe over a soft gray cashmere t-shirt and stretch nylon pants.
Giving Back BOB WILLIAMS, BFA ’86 COMMUNICATION DESIGN SCHOOL OF ART, MEDIA, AND TECHNOLOGY
Bob Williams didn’t always know what he wanted to study, but he was determined to find out. “I went to five schools before I ended up at Parsons,” he says. While studying at a traditional university in his home state of Texas, Williams discovered an interest in art. “I decided that if this is what I wanted to do, I had to get serious and find a first-rate school.” That school was Parsons, and he enrolled in Communication Design in 1983. As Williams neared graduation, his career path pointed to advertising. “At Parsons, we did everything from editorial design to corporate collateral design to advertising,” he says. ���I especially enjoyed corporate identity. And the chance to make a living was appealing.” But a fortuitous meeting in a bar with Mitchell Gold, then a national account salesperson for a furniture manufacturer, changed his life forever. “We just hit it off and discussed starting a business,” Williams says. This year, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams celebrates its 25th year in business. In that time, Williams and Gold have developed their idea into an empire, with more than 20 Signature Stores in North America and an aggressive strategy to open new stores yearly. Williams credits his success to a perfect combination of chance, youthful self-confidence, and a solid foundation in design. “The good thing about a bad economy is that retailers are always looking for something new, and we were something new in fall of 1989,” he says. “We got a little luck and traction, and a few years later we owned a factory.” That factory, in Taylorsville, North Carolina, was purchased two and a half years after the business was launched and originally had a staff of 115 employees. Today the company employs more than 750 people. Williams and Gold share responsibilities, with Williams leading product development and Gold focusing on marketing and manufacturing. “He sets the really high standards that are part of our DNA,” Williams says of his partner. “And he allows me to explore and try new things.” How did his studies in communication design prepare Williams for a role as one of America’s most prominent furniture designers? “It was kind of spooky at first, because furniture design was new for me,” Williams says. “But I’ve applied everything I learned at Parsons to this business.” www.mgbwhome.com
Bob Williams is shown on his firm’s crisply tailored tufted Dumont sofa from the current collection. The Dumont is curved to turn seated guests toward one another for conversation. Shown in Boden fabric in taupe.
Scholarship recipients like Dane Clarke understand that every act of giving back to Parsons makes a difference. Give today and invest in the next generation of art and design leaders. Give online at
Shortly after moving to New York City from Jamaica at age 17, Dane Clarke (shown above with Parsons Scholars director Nadia Williams, BFA Fashion Design ’01) was chosen to take part in the Parsons Scholars program, a multiyear college access curriculum for local public high school students interested in art and design. Now a sophomore in Parsons’ BFA Architectural Design program, Clarke appreciates the educational opportunities afforded him as a recipient of a Sheila C. Johnson Design and Diversity Scholarship. His undergraduate education has enabled him to explore creative architectural solutions to real-world challenges, and he plans to continue on this path in graduate studies. “My time at Parsons will help me tremendously in the years to come, letting me focus on the bigger picture of architecture,” says Clarke. He continues to be part of the Parsons Scholars community, giving back as a mentor in the program.
“My Parsons Scholars mentors inspired me to give back to the next generation.” —Dane Clarke
OUR SUPPORTERS* JULY 1, 2012–JUNE 30, 2013 $25,000+ Anonymous Binational Softwood Lumber Council Dominique Bluhdorn Harlan Bratcher Jennifer Andrus Burroughs (P) Claire Chan ’11/The Chan Foundation Richard Darling/LF USA Tess Dempsey ’88 Beth Rudin DeWoody ’75/ May and Samuel Rudin Family Foundation, Inc. Angelo Donghia Foundation Douglas D. Durst/The Durst Organization The Fancy GameLab Institute of Play Inc. Victoria Hagan ’84/Victoria Hagan Interiors Geoffrey Henning/JCPenney Sheila C. Johnson Donna Karan ’87, in loving memory of her husband, Stephan Weiss/ The Karan-Weiss Foundation John S. and James L. Knight Foundation Theodore Luce Charitable Trust Luxury Education Foundation Dee MacDonald-Miller ’75/ Jones Lang LaSalle Nancy Mahon/The Estée Lauder Companies Inc. E. Peter McLean Ms. Foundation for Women Jacki Nemerov The New York Community Trust Open Society Foundations Philips Lighting University Riverdale Country School The Rockefeller Foundation Surdna Foundation Tomio Taki Dan and Sheryl Tishman Alyce Williams Toonk (P) Kay Unger ’68/Kay Unger Family Foundation UNIQLO Co., Ltd. U.S.-Japan Council George and Nancy Walker/ The Brown Foundation, Inc. Alan Wanzenberg $10,000–$24,999 Allen Edmonds Corporation Blick Art Materials City Lore James and Juin Cohen (P) Richard and Jean Coyne Family Foundation Jamie Drake ’78/Drake Design II, Inc. Renaud Dutreil/LVMH Moët Hennessy • Louis Vuitton Inc. The Samuel Freeman Charitable Trust Eck Meng Goh Joe and Gail Gromek Ada Howe Kent Foundation Lanificio Ricasoli SPA Perry McKay ’96 Mozilla Foundation Nokia Research Center OXO Hazel Roy Trust Samsung Everland Inc. Sony Electronics The Geraldine Stutz Trust, Inc. Swarovski Andrea Woodner $1,000–$9,999 Anonymous Gina Addeo Lisa Addeo (P) Sidsel Taubo Alpert ’71 Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Inc.
Gerald Barad (P) Bloomingdale’s Jason and Melissa Mileff Burnett ’06 Frick Byers ’96 Chelsea Wine Vault Murtaza and Shenaz Chevel (P) Coach College Central Network William and Jane Corbellini ’86 Conor Davis DIFFA: Design Industries Foundation Fighting Aids Fred Dust/IDEO Echo Design Group EDF R&D/EBERBAT John and Rainey Erwin Susan L. Foote ’75 Frederick Wildman & Sons Anne Gaines ’00 Girls Write Now Robin Glasser ’90 Dara and Jay Godfrey ’04 Henry and Barbara Gooss (P) Graphic Communications Scholarship, Award and Career Advancement Foundation, Inc. Mi Yong Ha (P) Andrew Heffernan ’11 Estate of Jennifer Hill ’91 Tae Hoon and Miri Lee (P) IALD Education Trust Fund The JBG Companies Peggy Keenan Jernigan Trust Michael Jones ’88 Paul Jones (P) Lonnie and Karen Kane (P) Charles Kenney and Anne Detmer (P) Debbie Kuo ’85 Kimberly Kyser/Kyser Foundation Nicholas and Theresa Leonardy (P) Aura Levitas Peter and Margaret Magerko (P) Colette Malouf Mark Mancini ’85 Karla and Mark McKinley (P) New York Hall of Science Michael and Georgette O’Brien (P) Sandra Owen ’57 Steven and Michèle Pesner The Pinheiro Family (P) Betsy and Robert Pitts ’95 Fadi and Diala Rayess (P) Regal Wine Imports Paul F. Rosengard Mary E. Sabbatino ’80 Al and Susan Salomone (P) Osvaldo Sampaio De Souza Coelho (P) Marcus and Martina Shaw (P) Ellen Sigal, PhD/Sigal Family Foundation Margaret J. Smith ’89 Paul and Marcia Soldatos (P) Peter Sole and Helen Mumford-Sole (P) Solomon Page Fashion & Beauty Luis and Maria Suberville (P) Roberto Thompson Motta and Amalia Spinardi (P) Mrs. Marvin S. Traub/Lee and Marvin Traub Charitable Fund Type Directors Club, Inc. Rima Vargas-Vetter ’92 Gia Ventola ’98 Robert and Delores Viarengo ’95 Nancy Vignola ’76 Angela and Gene Weber (P) Jessica Weber ’66 Claire S. Werner ’83 Jacqueline Wright (P) Pierluigi Zanin and Angela Berti (P) (P): Parsons parent
*This list includes donors to the Annual Fund, which provides unrestricted funds that are allocated wherever the need is greatest, and selected donors who have made restricted gifts to Parsons. Parsons Fashion Benefit gifts and gifts in kind are recognized in The New School’s annual Giving Book. For more information, contact the university development office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
re:D (REGARDING DESIGN) SPRING 2014 EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Anne Adriance EDITORIAL BOARD: Amy Garawitz, Jen Rhee, Jean Tatge PARSONS ADVISORY BOARD: Joel Towers, Simon Collins, Anne Gaines, Sarah Lawrence, Brian McGrath, Alison Mears MANAGING EDITOR: Kyle Hansen EDITOR: John Haffner Layden CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Rose Cryan, Kate McCormick, Alexis Rider, David Sokol, Alex Wang ART DIRECTOR: Ed Pusz SENIOR DESIGNER: Paula Giraldo PRODUCTION COORDINATORS: Steven Arnerich, Sung Baik 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, photos, and 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 address changes at www.newschool.edu/alumni. CONTACT US re:D, Parsons The New School for Design 79 Fifth Avenue, 17th floor, New York, NY 10003 email@example.com PARSONS (760-830) Volume 31, No. 4, May 2014 PARSONS is published four times a year, in July, December, January, and May, by The New School, 66 W. 12th Street, New York, NY 10011. Periodicals postage paid at New York, NY, and additional mailing offices. Postmaster: Send address changes to PARSONS, 79 Fifth Avenue, 17th floor, New York, NY 10003. CREDITS: Kasia Broussalian (News & Events); Yuti Chang (News & Events); Chris Choi (News & Events); Michael DiVito (Alumni Message); FrontWise (Dennis de Beurs, Simon Epskamp, Werner Helmich, and Richard Jong) (Work in the 21st Century); Michelle Gevint (News & Events); Jonathan Grassi (News & Events); Katarzyna Gruda (Table of Contents); Lola Haze (News & Events); C. Ingargiola (Portfolio); Angela Jimenez (News & Events); The Kellen Design Archives (Creative Crossroads); Sameer Khan (Alumni Message); Dan Lecca (Alumni Profiles); Local Projects (Alumni Profiles); Dale MacDonald (Alumni Message); Daniel McMahon (Portfolio); Steve Moakley (Alumni Message); Landon Nordeman (Alumni Profiles); Elizabeth Peralta (Alumni Message); Angela Pham (News & Events); Behnaz Sarafpour (Alumni Profiles); Martin Seck (News & Events, Portfolio, Work in the 21st Century, Alumni Profiles, Giving Back); Rahul Shah (Portfolio); Michael Stavaridis (Alumni Profiles); Matthew Sussman (News & Events); Marc Tatt (News & Events); Vinciane Verguethen (Creative Crossroads) The New School does not discriminate on the basis of age, race, color, gender, sexual orientation, religion, religious practices, mental or physical disability, national or ethnic origin, citizenship status, or veteran or marital status. The New School is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Institution.
RedHanded LULU WOLF, BFA ’11 ILLUSTRATION SCHOOL OF ART, MEDIA, AND TECHNOLOGY
Soon after graduating from Parsons, Lulu Wolf found a home for her montage illustrations in publications like the New York Times, the Los Angeles–based magazine Foam, and WOW, an arts and culture journal published in Paris. But over time, the appeal of editorially focused projects began to wane, and Wolf turned to creating pieces that took her trademark collage-and-ink style in new directions. She still arranges appropriated magazine images on paper or board, but today her artwork is sparer and more abstract. Wolf, who shows work around the United States and abroad, says, “My process is very intuitive and involves balancing form, texture, color, and composition in ways that are precise and considered but organic.” Her restrained, understated compositions invite viewers to pause in contemplation. www.luluwolf.com www.littlepaperplanes.com
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