NEWS & EVENTS
Faculty News & Publications
Portfolio watertable and slam EXPERIMENTAL typography
WORKING in the ROUND Q&A WITH BILL MORRISH
aims people play GAMES TO PERFOrM PUBLIC SERVICE
athways in pictures P Joel Schumacher ’65
Alumni message ALUMNI networkS
Alumni Profiles PLAYING FOR KEEPS
Connected Fiona Dieffenbacher, BFA ’93 Michie Pagulayan, MFA ’03
thank you The PARSONS ANNUAL FUND
Red-Handed Motomichi Nakamura ’96
re:D (regarding Design) Spring 2010 Cover Design William Bevington With his cover designs for this issue of re:D, William Bevington, associate professor of information mapping at Parsons, explores play as a means of discovering, learning, and deriving intellectual pleasure. Bevington invites readers to make connections and associations, promising surprises in return. He says, “The design has six or seven layers, but most significant is the relationship between the analog-based design of the front cover, created using the rules and structures of early technology—typewriter, carbon paper, handmade paper—and the digital design of the back cover, made with contemporary tools, ideas, and capabilities.” The covers complement each other, sharing several elements but allowing for different conclusions from the same information— an apt metaphor for Parsons’ approach to education. According to Bevington, who created hundreds of thumbnails and full-sized sketches to create the symmetries, “Play is hard work!”
Issue Theme Play Play, this issue’s theme, is understood as a rich mode of learning and problem solving. It is both approach and outcome: an experiential, experimental way of developing content and the end product of a design process. Described in this issue are play-based methods like those used by members of the Parsons community in Senegal and Copenhagen to highlight the need for coordination between emergency relief workers and climatologists during climate-change disasters. Within Parsons’ School of Constructed Environments, related design disciplines interact, yielding new ideas for building products and communities in their interplay. In each example, a belief in play as an essential means of discovery informs the end result. Likewise, each reflects an understanding that underlying all meaningful play are rules and structures that facilitate learning.
re:D relies on reader response. Let us know what you think at
partners in design In collaboration with New School and external partners, the School of Design Strategies
(SDS) has developed Designing w/, a communication platform consisting of videos about participatory design methods, a publication documenting SDS courses and collaborations, and a one-day symposium exploring these projects with partners, students, and faculty. Designing w/ takes its name from an approach in which designers work directly with end users to solve design problems. Through this collaboration, they develop a shared understanding of the challenges addressed by design, identify opportunities, and devise innovative solutions to problems. designingwith.parsons.edu
work wear Workwear, a series organized by Shelley Fox, director of the new MFA Fashion Design and Society program, celebrated workwear in American fashion and demonstrated its influence on contemporary perceptions of New York as a fashion capital. The exhibition included installations by Fox, the Donna Karan Professor of Fashion Design at Parsons; artwork by Norton & Sons in collaboration with artist Jeremy Deller; and films by Paul Fejos (Lonesome, 1928) and Denis Piel (Donna Karan: Seven Easy Pieces), as well as ones by Boudicca specially commissioned for Workwear. See page 03, images 15–17.
prize WINNER Alumnus Douglas Segulja, MArch ’09, of the School of Constructed Environments, won the first-place Kölner Design Preis International (Cologne Design Award International). Prizes are awarded for the best thesis projects by students from partner universities of the Köln International School of Design.
Segulja designed a polytechnic high school to train students to become railroad mechanics and engineers.
trayless tuesday Faculty members Debby Lee Cohen and Jessica Corr recently led first-year students in an effort to remove polystyrene from New York City cafeterias. Cohen—founder of Styrofoam™ Out of Schools (SOSnyc)—Corr, and students worked with the NYC Department of Education (DOE) to develop Trayless Tuesdays, a campaign to replace polystyrene trays with recyclable versions. Parsons students prototyped alternatives in biodegradable materials and designed graphics to support the project for the DOE. The effort keeps more than 2.4 million trays out of landfills monthly. See page 02, image 09.
hidden agendas Parsons’ MA Program in the History of Decorative Arts and Design and Cooper-
Hewitt, National Design Museum, presented “Secrecy in the Decorative Arts and Design,” the 19th Annual Symposium on the Decorative Arts and Design. The symposium addressed the theme of secrecy from an historical perspective on decorative arts, design, fashion studies, art, architecture, material culture, anthropology, literary criticism, and related fields. Carolyn Sargentson, former head of the Research Department of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, delivered the keynote address.
brand stand For more than a decade, students from Columbia Business School and Parsons have collaborated in The Design and Marketing of Luxury Goods, an interdisciplinary course offered through the Luxury
Education Foundation. The course gives business and design students access to top executives from global luxury brands. This year, student teams led by Heico Wesselius, Jeff Ng, and Carlos Teixeira developed products and marketing strategies, including social media tools and service design, for Assouline, Chanel, Fresh, Graff, and Louis Vuitton. According to student team member Alex Liang, “The course was amazing, and the instructors helped my team achieve work that went beyond our own expectations. Our client has even invited us back to the company to present to other members of their management team.”
FASHION ANCHOR Five BFA Fashion Design ’09 grads competed to create a dress for Good Morning America co-anchor Robin Roberts to wear to this year’s Academy Awards. Fabiola Arias, Kwame Brako, Shawn Reddy, Samantha Sleeper, and Frejya van Noort presented designs
to Roberts and Suze Yalouf Schwartz, executive fashion editor-at-large at Glamour. Arias, Brako, and Reddy were selected as finalists during a fashion show on Good Morning America, and Roberts chose Reddy’s dress to wear while interviewing at the Oscars.
ANATOMY LESSON Integrated Design alumna Polina Ulendeeva ’08 received a U.S. patent for Comfort. Play. Teach., a plush toy that when unzipped reveals detachable soft human organs, created for her thesis project. Intended for children from five to seven years of age, the toy provides opportunities for learning through play. It comes with a coloring book that gives facts about human organs. “I was inspired by the works of young designers, such as the popular Ugly Dolls,” says Ulendeeva, who is reaching out to major toy companies to bring her product to market.
01 Poster for “Moving Pictures,” a symposium hosted by the Illustration program, with Jody
Rosen, Joel Smith, Lauren Redniss, and Richard McGuire. (Poster design by
02 Poster design for the opening of Absolute Beginners, a pop-up boutique in an East Village storefront that was renovated, operated, and stocked primarily by integrated design students led by Michael DiPietro ’10 and Rebecca Lesesne ’10. (Poster design by Alex Parkin ’10)
03 Poster for AAS Graphic Design Networked Design Talks series featuring designer and faculty member Tina Roth Eisenberg of swiss-miss.com. (Poster design by Mirna Raduka, AAS Graphic Design ’10)
04 Lazaro Hernandez ’02 and Jack McCollough ’02 talk about how they started their award-winning fashion business, at an event sponsored by Career Services and the School of Fashion.
Why Architecture Matters
05 Parsons Dean Joel Towers and Paul Goldberger, Pulitzer Prize-winning critic for the New Yorker and Joseph Urban Chair of Design and Architecture at The New School, discuss Goldberger’s recent books. 06
Parsons Faculty Book Fair 06 The book fair, held in the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center, featured works by faculty from all the schools within Parsons.
Ingo Fast: MTA project
07 Parsons challenged AAS Fashion Design and Fashion Marketing students to create designs for Chinese Sports Brand Li Ning. The winning teams were awarded $5,000 cash prizes and trips to Beijing to meet with company executives.
08 Ingo Fast, who studied illustration at Parsons, won a competition to use his illustrations of city scenes on glass windscreens for the NYC subway station at Beach-67th Street.
09 Using posters designed by Parsons students, the NYC Department of Education began “Trayless Tuesdays” in March to reduce polystyrene waste in school cafeterias.
This partnership was developed in School of Design Strategies Foundation courses and is sponsored by Styrofoam™ Out of Schools NYC, led by faculty member Debby Lee Cohen. 08
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EXHIBITIONS Storyteller An exhibition exploring how artists use the narrative form to process and explain important social and political events. 10 A view of an installation and video, In the Last 20 Minutes, by artist collective Missing Books, in the foreground; Steve Mumford’s scenes of Iraq and Mounir Fatmi’s Save Manhattan 02 in the background.
11 In Return, Michael Rakowitz explores communication in politicized contexts by documenting efforts to open an Iraqi date export business. 12 Steve Mumford’s watercolor-and-ink drawings document daily life in Baghdad.
13 Lamia Joreige’s video Objects of War no.3 uses real and fictional narratives to investigate histories of the Lebanese civil war. 14 Mounir Fatmi’s Save Manhattan 02 depicts the pre-9/11 skyline of lower Manhattan in stacked VHS videocassettes.
Workwear An exhibition and programming series exploring the legacy of workwear in American fashion and its influence on contemporary constructions of New York as a fashion capital. Presented in celebration of the new MFA in Fashion Design and Society. 15 The exhibition included mascot designs by design team Rebecca and Mike and an FBI jacket by Spiewak from Undercover, an installation by Shelley Fox.
16 Parsons Dean Joel Towers and Shelley Fox, the Donna Karan Professor of Fashion Design, at the reception 17 Donna Karan ’87: Featured in Donna Karan: Seven Easy Pieces, a film by Denis Piel
design scents Parsons and the Museum of Modern Art, in partnership with International Flavors & Fragrances, Coty Inc., and Seed magazine, presented “HEADSPACE,” a one-day symposium on the conception, impact, and potential applications of scent design. The event, organized by Jamer Hunt, Paola Antonelli, and Laetitia Wolff, brought together leading thinkers, designers, scientists, artists, and perfumers, both established and “accidental” (a group of architects, designers, and chefs invited to experiment with scent), to challenge people’s understanding of the untapped medium of scent. The event marks the launch of the MFA in Transdisciplinary Design program. www.headspace2010.com
moving pictures The BFA Illustration program presented “Moving Pictures,” a symposium exploring motion in illustration. Jody Rosen, music critic for Slate, and Joel Smith, curator of photography at the Princeton University Art Museum, led a conversation about creating real and imaginary landscapes. Discussion was moderated by Illustration faculty member Lauren Redniss, who also gave a lecture about secret lives and invisibility. Richard McGuire, an artist, musician, and fellow at the New York Public Library’s Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers, screened his film Fears of the Dark and previewed his new book, Here. See page 02, image 01.
POWER HOUSES The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently selected Better Together , the team formed by Parsons, Milano, and Stevens Institute of Technology, to participate in its 2011 Solar Decathlon. This biennial competition challenges teams
from around the globe to design the most energy-efficient solar-powered house. The contest is limited to 20 of the world’s leading universities and carries a prize of $100,000. Over the next two years, Parsons students will work closely with the municipal government of Washington, DC, the DC branch of Habitat for Humanity, and local communities to build a sustainable duplex in DC’s Ward 7 neighborhood. Better Together will share its progress on a variety of platforms.
connect 4loor The Design Workshop unveiled its latest project, Connect 4loor, in October. David Lewis, director of the Design Workshop, worked with students to renovate the design studios at the School of Constructed Environments (SCE). Their task was to create a flexible, open space to accommodate the needs of the various disciplines in SCE and foster interdisciplinary collaboration. Students focused on lighting and energy needs; their projects included a solar shade that cuts glare, which they installed on Parsons’ 14th Street facade, giving the school a striking street presence. See pages 10–12.
VOICE BOX In fall 2009, the School of Art, Media, and Technology’s Visiting Artists Lecture Series brought leaders in interdisciplinary art to Parsons to discuss their work. Participants included Alexi Worth, Shirin Neshat, Shinique Smith, Kurt Kauper, Reverend Billy and Savitri D., Miguel Ventura, Chico MacMurtrie, Michael Joo, Fred Wilson, and Marina Rosenfeld.
A variety of other speakers appeared on campus. Designer Tina Roth Eisenberg and Nora Abousteit and Benedikta Karaisl of BurdaStyle.com took part in AAS Graphic Design’s Networked Design Talks, organized by Mushon Zer-Aviv and led by program director Katarzyna
Gruda . Award-winning design team Proenza Schouler (Lazaro Hernandez ’02 and Jack McCollough ’02) held a discussion moderated by Simon Collins and presented by the
Office of Career Services and the School of Fashion. Bruce Nussbaum, visiting professor of innovation and design at The New School, and Roger Martin, dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, spoke about design thinking in business. And Judith Thurman, Armond White, Amy Fine Collins, and John Epperson had a conversation
as part of the School of Art and Design History and Theory’s Fashion in Film Series, curated by Jeffrey Lieber. See page 02, images 03–04.
GOOD BENEFITS Parsons honored Dr. William K. Fung, group managing director of Li & Fung Limited, and Vera Wang at its 2010 Fashion Benefit in April. Held at Chelsea Piers, the benefit featured a show of collections by graduating Parsons fashion designers. The event raises funds for Parsons scholarships. Past honorees include Francisco Costa and Tom Murry of Calvin Klein, Diane von Furstenburg, Howard Socol, and Marc Jacobs ’84.
THESIS shows End-of-year shows are on view in the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center, 66 Fifth Avenue, unless noted otherwise: BFA Illustration: 4/8–14 (Johnson Center); 5/10–14 (Art Director’s Club, 106 W. 29th St., NYC) BFA Fine Arts: 4/18–23 MFA Fine Arts: 5/14–24 (The Kitchen, 519 W. 19th St., NYC) BFA Photography: 6/8–11 (Johnson Center); 5/11–21 (Calumet, 22 W. 22nd St., NYC) MFA Photography: 8/21–9/11 BFA Communication Design and Design and Technology: 6/1–4
MFA Design and Technology: 4/29–5/2 Design Strategies: 5/7–14 Constructed Environments: 5/20–28 (25 E. 13th St., 2nd fl.) BFA Product Design: 5/7–16 (Schwartz Fashion Education Center, 560 Seventh Ave., NYC) AAS Fashion: 5/7–13 Parsons-wide exhibit: 5/18–24
DESIGN ARCHIVES The Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Archives received a donation of project documents belonging to designer and former Parsons faculty member Michael Kalil. The donation will make Kalil’s personal library available for study. The Michael Kalil Endowment for Smart Design, established in 2001, supports initiatives that promote sustainability in built environments. The endowment gave three project grants, to Parsons students Bless Yee, Zane Murray, Jane Lien,
and Ryan Raffia , and two $5,000 fellowships, to Sabine Seymour, assistant professor of fashionable technology, and Sheila Kennedy and Frano Violich of Kennedy Violich Architects.
beijing there Parsons’ global awareness and commitment to interdisciplinary coursework were spotlighted in a collaboration with top Chinese sports brand Li Ning. The project challenged AAS Fashion Design and Fashion Marketing students to design sportswear and merchandising plans with the theme “Eastmeets-West fusion.” Each of the two winning teams was awarded a $5,000 prize and a trip to Beijing to present their designs to Li Ning executives. “We are thankful to have collaborated with such a highly respected global sportswear company and learned so much about the industry and the real world of design,” the winning team members said. See page 02, image 07.
ritual reality The Jewish Museum awarded Parsons faculty member Allan Wexler the Henry J. Leir Prize for his work Gardening Sukkah. Wexler’s design reinvented Jewish rituals and ritual objects through a new conceptual framework and creative use of materials. Both an outdoor space in which to gather during the harvest festival of Sukkot and a shed holding gardening tools, Gardening Sukkah connects religious ritual with the secular process of food production.
WRIT LARGE The first Parsons-wide book fair, organized by Laura Auricchio of Parsons’ School of Art and Design History and Theory, was
Chicago 1890: The Skyscraper and the Modern City Joanna Merwood (University of Chicago Press, 2009) Chicago’s first skyscrapers are famous for reflecting the city’s modernity, but how did they represent a response to their historical context? Chicago 1890 reveals that early skyscrapers offered controversial solutions to the city’s toughest problems and fostered an urban culture that spread across the country.
held in the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center Crit Space. The fair featured recently published books written and edited by more than 40 full-time and part-time faculty members, representing each of Parsons’ five schools. Publications ranged from illustrated children’s books and limited-edition artist’s books to exhibition catalogs, reference books, textbooks, and scholarly monographs. See page 02, image 06.
POSITIVE INKING Mira Schor, painter, writer, and Fine Arts faculty member, was awarded the 2009 Creative Capital/Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant. Schor received the grant for her blog project A Year of Positive Thinking, which premiered in spring 2010, after the publication of her book A Decade of Negative Thinking: Essays on Art, Politics,
Designing w/ (School of Design Strategies, 2009) This book documents SDS’ collaborations with external partners in New York City and New Orleans during the spring of 2009. With contributions by Miodrag Mitrasinovic, Alison Mears, Cameron Tonkinwise, Eduardo Staszowski, Edwin Torres, Scott Pobiner, Victoria Marshall, Brian McGrath, Phanat Sonemangkhala, Eugene Kwak, Desiree Andrepont, Jim Osman, Ben Katchor, Lara Penin, Shana Agid, and Savitri Lopez-Negrete. http://designingwith. parsons.edu/
and Daily Life. Schor’s project was chosen from works in genres ranging from scholarly studies to self-published blogs—all characterized by a commitment to the craft of writing and the advancement of critical discourse on contemporary visual art.
NATIONAL TREASURE The Smithsonian’s CooperHewitt, National Design Museum, celebrated its tenth anniversary with the exhibition Design USA, showcasing the winners of the National Design Awards from the past decade. Among those recognized were Lucille Tenazas, the Henry Wolf Professor of Communication Design; David Lewis, a principal of Lewis.Tsurumaki. Lewis and the director of the Parsons Design Workshop; and Robert Greenberg, a member of Parsons’ board of governors. The Design Awards mark
Fashion Design Course: Principles, Practice, and Techniques—A Practical Guide for Aspiring Fashion Designers Steven Faerm (Barron’s Educational Series, 2010) Fashion Design Course outlines the principles of fashion design, surveys the industry’s history, and describes today’s markets. Tutorials provide instructions for designing garments. Faerm offers aspiring fashion professionals advice on creating a portfolio and selling oneself in job interviews.
accomplishments in fields such as architecture and landscape, interior, product, fashion, and communication design.
water works David Lewis, Matthew Baird, and Eric Bungee,
architects and faculty members of the School of Constructed Environments, led teams in Rising Currents, a project sponsored by MoMA and P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center. Five interdisciplinary teams studied the threat posed by rising sea levels resulting from global climate change and proposed solutions, which required them to re-envision the coastline around New York Harbor and consider more ecologically sensitive types of infrastructure.
Growing Urban Habitats: Seeking a New Housing Development Model William Morrish, Susanne Schindler, and Katie Swenson (William Stout, 2009) This book presents 16 designs for affordable, sustainable housing. Case studies are from proposals for Urban Habitats, a competition held by Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville and the Charlottesville Community Design Center for the redevelopment of a local trailer park.
Here & Now: Chinese Artists in New York Zhijian Qian (Museum of Chinese in America, 2009) This exhibition catalog examines the relationship between the artist and tradition, crossing boundaries in a multicultural environment, and reinventing culture. It showcases 12 contemporary artists of Chinese heritage with established careers in New York in three chapters or areas of study: Visual Memories, Crossing Boundaries, and Towards Transculturalism.
Watertable and Infrastructure Slam The events of Watertable, which took place at Parsons last November, built connections—between the departments of the school, other divisions of the university, and beyond—around water as a natural resource.
1. WORKING The Watertable, one of three designed and produced by students from BFA Product Design for the program’s water-themed “@ the table” special dinner event, is a portable plywood surface that serves many purposes, both functional and metaphorical. Conceived as a table around which people can gather to work and build community, it embodies a variety of design skills and approaches. The table is designed to be dismantled for easy transport and storage and made to maximize efficient use of materials—circular cutouts on the underside provide the wheels, for example, and the dimensions were calibrated to minimize scrap. Kirkbride sees the Watertable as a new kind of Parsons table, one that, like its predecessor, can play an important role in unifying the disciplines at Parsons. Kirkbride says, “There’s room for more than just one kind of Parsons table.” (Right) Product design students, led by student team leader Carl Frisk, cut, sand, and glue the table’s birch plywood parts. Created in the 1930s for a Parsons class led by French designer Jean-Michel Frank, the Parsons table was a model of utility and flexibility. The Watertable shares some of that table’s design features. Its dimensions and construction plan were engineered for easy assembly. (Center) The Watertable.
2. EATING Sophomore, junior, and senior product design students from SCE spent three weeks planning and preparing a water-themed meal that anchored the programming series. The students—many of whom had never met or worked together before—formed groups to produce the event, from designing the tables, dinnerware, and menus to preparing and serving food to 30 guests from the design industry. The event also integrated the work of fashion students in Kirkbride’s ULEC (University Lecture) class, who, with the help of faculty members Shelley Fox (Fashion Design) and Cecilia Rubino (Lang Theater), created sophisticated server smocks from fabric donated by alumna Donna Karan ’87. In Kirkbride’s words, “The dinner was a fantastic opportunity for students, who put on a whole different set of hats in a real-world situation. They were brilliant.” The dinner was preceded by a colloquium marking the book launch of Water (MIT Press), a collection of writings and art on water by a variety of contributors, including several faculty members from Parsons and other divisions of The New School. (At left) Student-created tableware, some of which was designed as thesis projects, accompanied a four-course dinner assembled from local ingredients and prepared by students. The menu was conceived by award-winning food writer Mei Chin, a contributor to Water. Melissa Grey, a faculty member of the New School Media Studies program and another contributor to Water, created a special aqueous soundscape for the event.
3. SLAMMING After the meal, teams of students from Lang, Parsons, and Jazz convened around the Watertables for a 24-hour “infrastructure slam,” the culmination of the ULEC course Intersections: FUEL + ORNAMENT. Their task was to apply interdisciplinary methods to solve problems connected to water reserves, natural gas pipelines, and natural disaster relief efforts. Guest critics guiding students’ progress included Mackay Wolff, emergency response specialist for the United Nations, SCE Dean Bill Morrish, Shana Agid, Carol Overby, Len Mayer, Rory Solomon, Heico Wesselius, and P. J. Carlino. New School media studies students recorded the events for a podcast they produced. “Watertable has changed the relationships at the school,” says product design senior Ingrid Zweifel, who acted as the project’s student leader. “Now we have a deep connection with students we didn’t know before. We have really built a network of support.” Three multidisciplinary student groups responded to infrastructure challenges at several scales—local, regional, and global—related to natural resources and the environment. They then selected solutions to present publicly. The results were exhibited in the Aronson Gallery. The New School’s radio station, WNSR, is streaming a sound collage of the infrastructure slam at wnsr.parsons.edu/page/2. To view a video of the Watertable events, visit www.newschool.edu/productdesign3.
Experimental Typography In a class led by Pablo A. Medina, communication design students free letterforms from the two-dimensional world and let them loose on the urban landscape.
lifting letters off the printed page Pablo A. Medina and the students in his class Experimental Typography find unconventional ways to use type, in areas including film, video, printmaking, fine arts, architecture, and fashion. As inventors of letterforms, Medina’s students are encouraged to get out from behind their computers and use craft methods and materials like pen and ink, cardboard, wax, yarn, rubber bands, wood, pencil drawings, silk-screening, spray paint, and toothpicks. Students undertake a unique project each time the class is offered. In the spring 2008 semester, they constructed type and words in cardboard and placed them in locations around New York City. Medina believes that taking a playful approach to learning frees students to use their imaginations. “The projects are customized to allow for new and unexplored solutions. The most consistent compliment I’ve gotten from students who have taken the class was that it was a lot of fun. Enjoyable projects encourage experimentation and innovation. They also make it easier to work harder.”
Students in Medina’s spring 2008 Experimental Typography class arrange their 3D words—which were chosen randomly but could be ordered to spell “WAR KILLS THE LAZY HIP CROWD DURING THE GREY BAILOUT”—to stretch through the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center, capture the attention of passersby in the Union Square subway station, and hug the retaining wall of Union Square Park. Walkabout words: Students bag their letterforms for easy transport.
WORKING IN THE ROUND A Conversation with Bill Morrish Interview by Shonquis Moreno
Appointed in July as dean of the School of Constructed Environments (SCE), the country’s only comprehensive architecture and lighting, product, and interior design school, architect Bill Morrish began implementing a vision of design education as a symphony instead of a solo. Morrish emphasizes the interplay of disciplines, people, and resources and encourages exchange between the academy and the city. Trained at Berkeley and the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Morrish has been researching sustainable cities and housing concepts, community design that responds to local and global conditions, and educational programs that can plug into community-based problem solving anywhere in the world. As the first chair of the combined departments of Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and Urban and Environmental Planning at the University of Virginia, Morrish encouraged grad students to become stewards of both the natural and built environments. SCE Dean BILL Morrish spoke with re:D about how converging systems, tools, people, and ideas will lead design education—and design—to a better future.
Shonquis Moreno: Describe your vision for change at SCE. Bill Morrish: In the past, we had discrete disciplines that supported one
another in the making of the building. Now we’re beginning to understand that what we do in all these disciplines, when we add them up and work together, has a huge impact on the larger city. We need to understand how they’re interrelated and make more explicit arguments for working together. If you start a project together, you go into constructing that environment completely differently.
SM: You also encourage collaboration on real-world projects, instead of just teaching your students to design, say, penthouses. BM: The faculty is interested in the city of the other half. Instead
of focusing on the superwealthy, we’re interested in the marketplaces, the housing, the products, and the everyday activities of the street. What happens on Atlantic Avenue is going to drive what happens on Broadway.
SM: What are you doing to encourage interplay among disciplines? BM: When I came to this school, the faculty was already engaged in unique projects, which I make more visible: We’ve been doing more public programs that are tied to courses. We’ll be starting a series where faculty members present their own work to their colleagues at Parsons. I’m developing new models of studio teaching to reflect the fact that some projects are highly technical and others involve collaborative community engagement.
SM: So how do you organize the teaching around those projects and identify how each discipline approaches different kinds of problems? BM: Among the faculty, we talk about what we want to deliver and how we want that
outcome to be used in order to figure out how to approach a problem. We’re adjusting the way we teach so that students begin to learn that skill as well. That’s a necessary shift because institutional models are outdated.
Each spring, students from across SCE design, build, or renovate a communal space as part of the Design Workshop, a key learning experience in SCE. This past year, the Connect 4loor project joined the third and fourth floors of Parsons’ 25 East 13th Street workspace, providing a flexible, reconfigurable space in which to mount large exhibitions or to divide into smaller work areas. Custom-designed tables that serve as student work surfaces traverse the Fifth Avenue axis; an open screen of wooden uprights defines zones. Members of SCE discuss the project in the Glass Corner, a past Design Workshop project. Adjustable translucent fins hang from the ceiling to reduce glare.
SM: Then how are you turning away from the old models and encouraging integrated thinking and design engagement among the students? BM: For example, the ongoing Solar Decathlon project [see “Power Houses,” page 04] involved the fashion school, AMT [the School of Art, Media, and Technology], and SCE. We just finished a semester that was the prep for it, and the question is: What’s a Solar Decathlon house when different disciplines are involved? Students do a lot of workshopping, brainstorming, and schemes as ways to understand how their ideas will perform when executed. At the start, everybody does a scheme for a modular house, whatever their discipline. An interiors student’s scheme may not be entirely buildable, because it will come from their interiors notion. But an architect doesn’t necessarily know the answer either. SM: Are you considering how this interplay of disciplines operates within the larger university context? BM: Well, Michael Cohen [director of The New School’s graduate program in
International Affairs] will send 15 students from his program to Uganda to work with eight or nine architecture students from SCE and, next year, to Buenos Aires as part of the Global Cities workshop. They’ll work as teams on the ground for eight weeks, developing a program of urban planning for small communities. The students may have to develop a temporary environment so that the community can have a group meeting or find a generator to use GPS or Google Maps so that they don’t have to wait for a government official to give them a map.
SM: Do outside-the-classroom classes help students to think outside the box? BM: Well, we’re rethinking the very definition of a seminar and heading toward a
workshop model, in which you can get to the bigger theoretical issues. I call this model the “applied lecture.” We’re asking students to work among themselves as potential partners. Some classes should be small, some should be conventional lectures, and some should be applied lectures. Some problems require multiple approaches. And how do we preserve the important distinctions between the things we do and capture the linkages between them? Do we all have to do it the same way? No. I know from my own career that learning other models has helped me. And we’re inviting the community in and having the students get involved in the conversation as well.
“We’re not just redesigning the table; we’re learning to be at the table. What happens at this table is what’s going to get built. What happens in this room is what’s going to happen in the city.”
SM: How does this approach to education prepare students to work in the real world? BM: Working in the round more accurately reflects where the industry is going.
It’s all about networking. Communication technology facilitates the social conversation. The tools allow us to have those discussions in time, on time. It won’t replace being on the ground, but I can be more in the same time zone than at a distance now. That said, the new technology is generating an overwhelming amount of information. The challenge is to identify what’s important, gathering, prioritizing, and communicating the essential information.
SM: How does an interdisciplinary approach affect the design process? BM: Through different interpretations of a project, you begin to see different agendas. During the Solar Decathlon course, students went from 15 alternatives to one; they moved from being human beings with a need for shelter to being disciplinary experts. Product designers get architects thinking, “How big is the object? How do we ship it?” An interiors student asks, “Why can’t the walls be the furniture?” A lighting person says, “Why can’t the floor be luminous?” Some people might think the finished scheme is a compromise; that isn’t necessarily an ugly solution. It can be elegant, but it requires a lot of iteration. Students learn to understand one another’s language and tools, including the best ones to model: Should we mock up a section so that you can feel its surface? Or model it in a computer so that you can run it in a solar energy program? By running all the disciplines’ methods of modeling in a parallel way, students begin to understand what knowledge and tools they can trade and what questions to ask of their colleagues and when. Really good designers know when to call on people in other disciplines. You constantly have to be clarifying your idea. We’re not just redesigning the table; we’re learning to be at the table. What happens at this table is what’s going to get built. What happens in this room is what’s going to happen in the city. SM: What is the “second generation of sustainability” that you are addressing at SCE? BM: After working on sustainability for ten years, we understand better how our actions are connected locally and globally, and also natural systems’ capacity to absorb what we create. And today we’re thinking about systems that are more attuned to the local environment. How do local and global situations intersect? International policies mediate some globallocal situations, but there are no easy fixes. There’s been a focus on big sustainability projects, but even if we made every high-rise green, it wouldn’t affect the environment as much as making every home in the region green. If we start thinking locally and how the building, lighting, interiors, and products within it support our agenda, we’ll get a lot further. It’s about changing how we live and work every day. Shonquis Moreno is the New York-based editor of Gestalten and a contributor to Frame, DaMN, and T magazines.
Aims People Play Designers from the School of Art, Media, and Technology create games to perform public service By David Sokol On a June day in 2008, participants in the Come Out & Play Festival divided into teams, donned backpacks containing supplies, and sped off into lower Manhattan. They were playing Re:Activism, an educational game developed by PETLab (Prototyping, Evaluation, Teaching, and Learning Lab), a public-interest game design laboratory affiliated with Parsonsâ€™ School of Art, Media, and Technology (AMT). Following instructions sent to their cell phones, players raced to historic protest sites, where they learned about the events that took place and their causes. The teams then fulfilled challenges such as re-enacting protests or, in the case of a team poking around Sheridan Square, interviewing people involved in the Stonewall riots of 1969. They then text-messaged their results to conclude the challenge and win points. The game represents a kind of play involving movement, imagination, intellect, and technology that is being developed at Parsons and elsewhere to support learning and address humanitarian and ecological concerns.
Scholars have explored the benefits of play at least since the days of Aristotle. Especially since Friedrich von Schiller galvanized his fellow Romantics to consider the deep meaning of play, intellectuals have recognized its educational value. “Games existed before people wrote,” observes Colleen Macklin, associate professor in AMT and director of PETLab. “And intentionally or not, many games foster learning.” In a February 2, 2010, New York Times editorial, Williams College professor Susan Engel championed play as a means of stimulating children’s natural curiosity and developing their higherorder thinking skills. “Research has shown unequivocally that children learn best when they are interested in the material or activity they are learning,” Engel stated. She even argued that the Obama administration could not implement new school assessment standards until the classroom became a more playful place. Katie Salen, professor in AMT and director of the Center for Transformative Media at Parsons, also believes that games and the theories behind them will become increasingly important tools in America’s classrooms. Salen is the author of the seminal book Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals, which offers a critical framework for creating and studying games. She says, “Game design is destined to become an even more integral part of education. Most national organizations—the National Academy of Sciences, for example—have task forces on games and simulation. These folks are looking at how gaming is a unique platform for this generation, how it influences the way young people converse and socialize. We need to figure out ways to construct games that have intentional, educational outcomes.” Not all forms of play are viewed favorably, however. The growing popularity of digital gaming has given rise to something of a backlash. One complaint is that many video games feature artificial situations in which nonessential skills—often entailing violence—are emphasized over skills that help young people negotiate everyday situations requiring cooperation and imagination. “Many people view games as separate from real life,” says AMT Dean Sven Travis. Assistant professor David Carroll is among those attempting to address these shortcomings. Carroll, director of the Center for Mobile Creativity at Parsons, devised curricula for Mobile Quest, a summer camp where young people used technology, such as the locative capabilities of smartphones, in play-based learning activities. Carroll’s games emphasize real-life contexts and skills such as consensus building. Last summer, fifth-graders dispersed through the streets of New York City to play Mega-Scrabble, using mobile devices to photograph letterforms spotted in the urban landscape and beam the pictures back to base camp, where teams combined them into words. Signage, building plaques, and visual language from around the city became game pieces. Carroll says, “By learning what game design is, and by making games about learning and cooperating and being in the city, Mobile Quest challenges the preconceived notion that games are only video games, and are only about violence or mindlessness.” Macklin says, “Creating a game intended to effect social change, or help someone learn, is different from making a game to be a topselling package.” Echoing Katie Salen’s sentiments, she continues, “It’s the intention that makes the games different; all games have those components already.” Her point is illustrated by Nintendo Wii, which some say may be doing a better job of combating childhood obesity than any governmental program.
AMT students and faculty have taken up the mission of integrating games into education and other public services. Their projects have yielded games like Re:Activism, Forecast–>Evacuation?, and BudgetBall, as well as the forthcoming iPhone application Mannahatta: The Game, in which GPS technology allows users to see the kinds of plants and animals that existed in particular Manhattan sites 400 years ago. When shaped by AMT designers, games created for entertainment present rich educational opportunities. Just before the fall 2008 release of the game Little Big Planet, for example, the Design and Technology program teamed up with Sony Playstation 3 and Media Molecule on a 24-hour game design jam for that title. Working in teams of five, 150 students created new levels for Little Big Planet, including the winning Sackmonster level, in which the game’s protagonist moves through a monster’s digestive system. According to Travis, the projects “astounded” judges with “their possible educational applications.” Contemporary educational theory unites all these initiatives. Travis contrasts “the traditional tendency to emphasize the verbal over the visual” with the influential ideas of Howard Gardner, whose concept of multiple intelligences validates gaming as a teaching tool. The efforts of researchers at Parsons and elsewhere—Dartmouth’s Values at Play, for example—promise to help move pedagogy toward Gardner’s vision of human capabilities. The capacity of games to educate and serve the public good is becoming increasingly evident. “This is one of the first generations whose parents were gamers, and they understand the potential of games,” Macklin says. Students working with Katie Salen and PETLab are helping to realize this potential by creating educational games to be used in settings such as Quest to Learn, a new public school for grades 6–12 that employs game-inspired methods to teach both traditional and digital-age skills. The games that are part of the Quest to Learn curriculum are innovative in that they situate young people in interesting contexts, supply information and build skills as needed over the course of the game, and are inquiry driven. A new generation of technology supports these designers’ work. Cloud computing, social networking, GPS-enabled mobile devices, and other innovations are moving games away from entertainmentdriven consoles and integrating them into the fabric of everyday life. Games are building connections between people around the world, promoting awareness of a host of social needs. Game designers at AMT use new technology to facilitate play within communities and across continents, ages, and social strata. Through their captivating and ingenious games, designers are mobilizing increased social awareness for the global good. In the process, they help the public reconsider games—digital and otherwise—and see them as more than mere entertainment. David Sokol is a New York-based writer and contributing editor at Architectural Record and Surface magazines.
Quest to Learn
Experimental Typography: Haiti
Forecast â€”> Evacuation
Forecast —> Evacuation
re:Activism Re:Activism, a game developed in PETLab and played on New York City streets, pits participants against the clock and asks them to solve puzzles based on information they receive through SMS and cell phone technology. Players race around the city visiting sites where struggles for
social justice took place. To win the game, players employ strategic thinking skills to map routes to sites and fulfill challenges. Local residents in Beijing and MinneapolisSt. Paul have also played Re:Activism using site-specific content they developed.
Experimental Typography: Haiti Pablo A. Medina challenged communication design students in his Experimental Typography class to collaborate on projects to support relief efforts in Haiti. Pairs of students came up with ideas including posters soliciting volunteer help, a video installation featuring Twitter feeds, T-shirts bearing Creole greetings, and a kit containing goods for Haitian children. The students then switched partners, exchanged designs,
and executed the concepts. The teams presented their projects at an event sponsored by the American Institute of Graphic Designers and the Museum of Arts and Design, which raised $700 for the Yéle Haiti relief organization. Attendees voted for Haiti Book for Heroes, a pocket-sized book for relief workers designed by Omer Ben Ziv and Jennifer Schubert, to be produced.
BudgetBall In February 2009, students and faculty members from The New School and NYU unveiled a sport that serves as a kind of sweat-inducing metaphor for the federal deficit. Deploying moves like Powerups and Sacrifices, BudgetBall players grappled with longterm debt management in a game fusing basketball, volleyball, and football with economics. Developed by PETLab, Parsons’ research lab for prototyping public-
interest games, BudgetBall has toured venues nationwide, from college campuses to the Mall, where it was played by Treasury Secretary Geithner’s staffers and the House Budget Committee. Through mental and physical challenges, BudgetBall provides lessons about governmental money woes and teaches individuals to become more financially responsible.
ManNahatta: The Game Mannahatta: The Game builds on the popular website and book The Mannahatta Project, created by Dr. Eric Sanderson for the Wildlife Conservation Society. In this iPhone game, being developed by PETLab and the New Youth City Learning Network, players view images of Manhattan’s historical natural environment superimposed on maps of present-day city
streets. By covering as much territory in the city as they can while noting features such as topography, plants, and wildlife that have remained since 1609 (the year Henry Hudson first set foot on the island), individual and team players earn points, win badges, and advance as “ecosystem experts.”
At the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, an educational card game opened the session on climate information and humanitarian work. Using standard playing cards, game designers from the School of Art, Media, and Technology led the audience through Forecast–>Evacuation?, an activity exploring weather forecasts and disaster relief efforts. The game contrasted forecasts under present-day conditions to those under conditions of expected climate change, asking players to imagine themselves as disaster relief personnel making decisions
based on different flooding probabilities. Demonstrating the increased risks of flooding and unpredictable weather resulting from climate change, the game encourages humanitarian workers to partner with scientists who can interpret meteorological data to help them make climate change-related decisions. The game was refined from an earlier version, Early Warning, Early Action, developed by Parsons’ PETLab with partners from the Red Cross and tested in Senegal by faculty member and PETLab associate Colleen Macklin.
EyeWriter TEMPT, a graffiti artist with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), needed a way to paint; Zachary Lieberman, along with a team of artists from around the world, came to his aid with an invention called the EyeWriter. In the first phase of the project, the team created custom software that allows users to draw through eye movements and installed it in inexpensive eyeglass frames. AMT students and The Ebeling Group, an international production company, were brought in for the next
phase: constructing a second prototype, writing instructions people can use to make the device themselves, developing open-source software, and shooting a video documenting the project. Ultimately, Zachary and the team hope to create a network of software developers, hackers, urban artists, and people with ALS who can connect through their passion for art.
Quest to Learn When sixth-graders from the New York City public school Quest to Learn come home talking excitedly about Troggles, their parents know they’re speaking about their science and math curriculum. Following their observation that young people’s interactions with digital media increasingly inform learning, the founders of Quest to Learn applied the logic and principles of game design to create an experiential curriculum for grades 6–12. Students involved with Parsons’ PETLab as well as educators strive to make these
games engaging, fun, and, most important, educational; they bear no resemblance to commercial video games. Grounded in the holistic notion that school is a system of interconnected networks of functions, individuals, and learning processes, Quest to Learn, which began offering classes in fall 2009, opens doors to ideas, knowledge, and self-esteem in ways that until now have not been explored in the city’s public schools.
01 Rebecca Brian; Robyn Singer-Dror, BFA Interior Design ’02; and Jamie Drake, BFA Architectural Design ’78
Events help Parsons grads support one another and stay in touch.
05 Brian Belluomini, MFA Lighting Design ’02, and Naomi Freedman, MFA Lighting Design ’09
03 Preethi Chetan, BFA Communication Design ’09
02 Sarah Morgan, Manuel Saez, and Carol Overby
07 Maria Carbajal, Interior Design ’08, and Dean Bill Morrish
06 Soojin Choi, BFA Product Design ’91; Maureen Gallagher, BFA Product Design ’91; and Peter Brown, BFA Product Design ’91 04 Dennis Browner, AAS Interior Design ’87
08 Frank Oggeri, BFA Communication Design ’80, of Tracey Locke Partnership
09 Judith Stephens, BFA Photography ’07, of Marvel.com
11 Parsons Internship Fair
12 Daniel Stark, BFA Communication Design ’93, of Stark Design
13 Liza Forester, BFA Product Design ’06, of Movado Group Inc.
10 Javier Boné-Carboné, BFA Product Design ’06, of Visionaire magazine
chapter members making strides Parsons alumni are getting involved and making strides in their volunteer efforts. Over a weekend in December, alumni in the DC area participated in panel discussions and Q&A sessions for high school students interested in attending Parsons. Members of the Parsons DC alumni chapter, including co-chair Dee MacDonald ’75, Bob Bilicki ’81, Rochelle Sambur ’00, and Sheryl Turpin ’04 , reviewed portfolios at National Portfolio Day in Baltimore. And the LA chapter of the alumni association, co-chaired by Parsons alumna Montrese Chandler ’00, is building momentum for an event in the LA region. Alumni chapters offer you a great way to build networks among alumni in your region and to volunteer on behalf of your alma mater. If you’re interested in joining or starting a chapter or group in your region, contact us by email or call 212.229.5662 x3784. For current information on events, chapters, and the association, check out our website. email@example.com www.newschool.edu/alumni
ALUMNI help develop new designers On October 14, 2009, Parsons alumni took part in Growing Your Design Business in Today’s Economy, the first event in a series on design businesses and entrepreneurship at NY Designs in Long Island City, New York. Panelists included Jamie Drake ’78, Robyn Singer-Dror ’02, Rebecca Brian, Sarah Morgan, Carol Overby, and Manuel Saez. In February, alumni representing various companies attended the Parsons Spring Internship Fair. Among them were Deroy Peraza ’01, from Hyperakt; Daniel Stark ’93, from Stark Design; Frank Oggeri ’80, from Tracey Locke Partnership; Maria Gustafson ’91, from Kiehls-USA; Liza Forester ’06, from Movado Group Inc.; Javier Boné-Carboné ’06, from Visionaire magazine; and Judith Stephens ’07, from Marvel.com. For more information about this event and other career-related topics, visit our website. www.parsonscareerservices.blogspot.com
sce reunion 2009 On November 5, 2009, alumni who graduated from the Architecture, Interior Design, Lighting Design, and Product Design programs between 1968 and 2009 attended the annual reunion for Parsons’ School of Constructed Environments at the Häfele Showroom in New York City. Also attending the event were Bill Morrish , dean of the School of Constructed Environments, and members of the SCE faculty.
mark your calendars! parsons reunion 2010: october 15–17 Reunion 2010 will be a full weekend of exciting programs culminating in a cocktail reception. See our website for updates. www.newschool.edu/alumni/parsonsreunion Parsons reunions give alumni a chance to reconnect with faculty, classmates, and their alma mater. For this year’s reunion, we have initiated a special giving program for alumni who graduated in years ending in 0 and 5 to stretch their annual fund contributions in honor of this milestone year. Your reunion gift is a powerful way for you to remain connected with Parsons and guarantees that the students of today and tomorrow will be able to enjoy the same transformative experience that has added so much to your life. To make a reunion gift, please contact Mara Caruso, senior development officer, by phone at 212.229.5662 x3833 or email, or visit our website. firstname.lastname@example.org www.newschool.edu/giving
Playing for keeps working in media Alumni make play a full-time pursuit when they work in entertainment industries such as film, graphic novels, and interactive media. Their work blends technical mastery with a vision of play as a rich way of experiencing the world. More alumni news can be found in re:D Notes, the online-only supplement to re:D. Send your email address to us at email@example.com so that you can keep up with your classmates.
Fashion Design Mark Salinas, AAS ’07 Many creative people enjoy trying their hand at different media, but Mark Salinas is a master of a number of fields, including fine art and costume, set, and fashion design. He cites having multiple design skills as an advantage in today’s economy: “My strength is my varied experience.” So when installing holiday windows at Macy’s, he draws on his experience in set design for film and TV as well as prior work for museums and galleries. When designing costumes for a theater company or a Halloween getup for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Salinas relies on the tailoring skills he acquired at Parsons and as a pattern maker for Zac Posen. And when writing his winning grant proposal for the New York State Council on the Arts, he made use of his degree in fine arts. Although Salinas says his career evolved organically, he describes each new step as an enhancement rather than a makeover. “At Parsons, I wasn’t discarding my prior experience and knowledge. There’s no sense in reinventing yourself if you lose your origins in the process.” www.arrowsup.com
Photography Anne Norda, BFA ’88 When Anne Norda was a student at Parsons, she volunteered to take photographs of an NYU student film set. “I walked in and had a life epiphany,” she recalls. “I knew that I was a filmmaker and that filmmaking was what I wanted to do. Through all the frustrations of this insane career, I have never lost that feeling.” Norda packed her cameras and moved to Los Angeles to learn the movie business. She wrote plays and scripts, made short films and music videos, and produced theater before making her first independent feature movie, Red Is the Color Of, a provocative drama. The film, completed in 2007, won a number of best-film awards at festivals. Norda is currently developing several film projects while working on a book of photography and poetry and teaching writing workshops. She says, “I want to help others realize their dreams, because I have been so driven to pursue mine.” www.annenorda.com
Design and Technology Varathit Uthaisri, MFA ’09
Illustration Michael Davis, bfa ’83 “I’ve taken everything I learned in life and put it into what I’ve always wanted to do: write and direct movies,” says Hollywood auteur Michael Davis. After graduating from Parsons, Davis moved to Los Angeles and worked as a storyboard artist while making independent movies on the side. His big break came in 2007, when New Line Cinema saw 15 minutes of beautifully choreographed action scenes that Davis had animated by hand, shot by shot, showing how the scenes were to be photographed and edited. New Line snapped up and produced his action thriller, Shoot ’Em Up, in which they cast Clive Owen, Paul Giamatti, and Monica Bellucci. “The studio people had never seen storyboards like mine before,” says Davis, who credits Parsons with developing not just his illustration skills but also an intellectual edge. “The teachers didn’t just teach technique; they taught you how to think. That’s how I learned to creatively solve problems.”
Varathit Uthaisri, who goes by the name Tu+, was working as a motion graphics designer in his native Bangkok when he decided to move to New York and enroll at Parsons. “The Design and Technology program suited my desire for experimentation in different media arts. I was searching for something spectacular and inspiring.” For his thesis project, Tu+ created Surface, a stunning short film that features a stream of anonymous New Yorkers going about their daily lives, shown from below, as if through a translucent floor. “It is the exploration of new visual language from an unconventional point of view,” explains Tu+. Surface placed first in the Adobe Design Achievement Awards and won praise from a number of design blogs. The film was also shown in several international festivals and brought Tu+ plum assignments from prominent firms. But what pleases Tu+ most is the enthusiastic comments posted on his website. “I’m so glad people love my project. It has encouraged me to make future projects better than ever.” www.varathit.com
Communication Design Adam Tankell, bfa ’86 “You may not notice every day how much of your surroundings is designed,” explains Adam Tankell, “but in building an environment for a film, you have to create every visual detail.” Tankell is a leading graphic designer for movies and commercials. His work often involves extensive research. For the Spielberg film Catch Me If You Can, for example, he helped design the forged checks that were pivotal to the plot. “I had to study the time period to get the look exactly right,” he says. He also creates graphics and street signage for the TV series Heroes, which is set in locales such as Japan, India, and Guatemala. “It’s complicated but challenging and fun.” Tankell enjoys the investigative, interpretive nature of his job. “Scripts give you visual outlines,” he says. “They may say that a scene takes place in a hospital, but not what kind. What does it look like? When was it built? What graphics will relate? There are all these clues to uncover.” Photo credit: Courtesy of NBC Studios, from the television series Heroes; production designed by Ruth Ammon
Design and Technology Manuel Lima, MFA ’05 “Parsons opened so many doors in my head,” says Manuel Lima, an interaction designer, information architect, and design researcher. “I learned from many different disciplines and took away knowledge from each that will stay with me for the rest of my life.” Lima has put his studies to good use. Besides working as an interaction designer for firms like R/GA and Nokia, he is a leading thinker and researcher in the emerging field of information visualization, the visual representation of complex information. He has created a groundbreaking website called VisualComplexity.com, which won him a nomination from Creativity magazine as one of the “50 Most Creative and Influential Minds of 2009.” Lima recently lectured on network visualization at the TED Global 2009 conference and is currently working on a book on the topic, to be published by Princeton Architectural Press in early 2011. He acknowledges that he is a part of a growing community. Says Lima, “I’m just one of the voices that represent a new mindset that embraces the beauty of complexity.” www.mslima.com
Illustration Christina Nicodema, BFA ’09 “Kids are smart; you can challenge them visually,” says Christina Nicodema, a recent Illustration graduate who works at the children’s online game and animation company Fantage. “They respond well to challenge.” Nicodema’s aesthetic sensibility and narrative style bring an edgier flavor to Fantage’s sunny cartoon landscapes and cute avatars, something that she believes enriches her young audience’s gaming experience. “I tend to bring my own cultural references into my design,” she explains. “Kids learn indirectly by being exposed to them.” Nicodema’s area of expertise is stop-motion animation. She builds the sets and figures herself, shoots the photographs, and edits the results digitally. Although her own work looks very different from what she creates for her day job, both are developed through play. “I found my style through playing with materials and textures,” says Nicodema. “That’s how my work evolves. It’s one big experiment.” www.christinanicodema.com
Integrated Design Ariel Newland, BFA ’08
Illustration Brian Wood, BFA ’97 Comic book creator Brian Wood likens the increasing mainstream popularity of graphic novels to “shining a light into a dark room. It used to be an insular and stereotypically geeky community, and suddenly all eyes are on us. Everyone who was able to roll with that got rewarded.” Wood himself, whose smart and gritty books are considered among the best, has reaped some of the benefits. His graphic novels have been translated into several languages and won praise from the New York Times Book Review. Several of his books, including The Couriers, Local, and Supermarket, are being developed for the big screen. It took him a while to get to this point, though. “I was working nights and weekends for six years before I could quit my day job [as a designer for Rockstar Games],” he says. “Having a career in comics is a lot like being in a band. You have to start small and play a lot of free shows. But you have complete creative freedom.” www.brianwood.com
Ariel Newland firmly believes in play as a learning tool. “The best way to engage kids is to participate in their world of gaming and online interaction. Standard tests and textbooks have their place, but a game can really make subjects come to life,” she says. Newland’s popular online game From Ellis Island to Orchard Street with Victoria Confino, designed for New York’s Tenement Museum, bears this out. In the game, players take on the persona of a 12-year-old European immigrant going through the naturalization process at Ellis Island in the early 20th century. The project was Newland’s senior thesis, but it doubled as her first professional assignment. “Partnering with the Tenement Museum was great, because they were a real client with real needs and educational goals,” she says. While at Parsons, Newland started working at the experiential design firm ESI Design, where she creates interactive media and installations for people of all ages. She couldn’t be happier. “I’m doing exactly what I dreamed of doing when I was studying at Parsons.” www.arielnewland.com www.esidesign.com
Design and Technology Josh Welber, MFA ’99; Wade Tinney, MFA ’99 Josh Welber and Wade Tinney think that playing games makes people smarter. “We believe that all games are educational in some way,” says Tinney. In 2001, he and fellow Parsons alumnus Welber founded the game development company Large Animal Games, now a highly successful firm. “The players play within a sandbox defined by rules and explore the boundaries of that system,” he explains. “Games teach people how to better understand systems, which is useful in all fields of knowledge.” The challenge of understanding systems is a powerful motivator for Tinney and Welber themselves. The duo chose to design games because games are the most difficult kind of interactive design to create. “We found that challenge really interesting and engaging,” explains Tinney. But they are also inspired by the social aspect of gaming. Says Tinney, “We love the idea that the products we make help millions of people interact in a playful way. Both Josh and I find it incredibly exciting to be able to connect people in that way.” www.largeanimal.com
Connected by design Fiona Dieffenbacher, BFA ’93 Michie Pagulayan, MFA ’03 Graduates stay connected to Parsons in many ways: returning to teach, offering internships, providing financial support, collaborating with fellow alums and faculty on projects. On these pages, two alumni share some of the reasons they stayed connected to Parsons.
After graduating, Fiona Dieffenbacher went on to work in fashion and Michie Pagulayan made a career in digital design and marketing. Today both teach at Parsons and lead students in cross-disciplinary ventures with highprofile partners such as the luxury brand LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, for which they recently led a student competition celebrating New York artisans. In the competition, The Art of Craftsmanship Revisited: New York, 23 teams of students from the schools of Art, Media, and Technology (AMT) and Fashion were challenged to observe local artisans working in media such as glass, ceramics, and metal and then design a garment and make a five-minute film in response to what they saw and learned. Representatives of LVMH and Parsons faculty were impressed by the quality of the students’ projects and their appreciation of the artisans’ work. Students especially enjoyed this extracurricular project because it allowed them to work outside their usual areas of study. Michie Pagulayan: Parsons is a community, not just a school, so there’s something personal to stay connected with after you graduate. That’s partly because collaborations bring together people with a lot of different perspectives—faculty members, current or former students, people with particular skills, partners with specific agendas—to work on interesting projects. Students often meet people to collaborate with on projects; for example, graduates of programs like Design and Technology often end up working on research initiatives at PETLab [Prototyping, Evaluation, Teaching, and Learning Lab]. For me, the community, opportunities, and network were important reasons to come back to Parsons after getting my Design and Technology MFA.
Fiona Dieffenbacher: My relationships with people at Parsons were key as well. When I was running my own ready-to-wear company, I stayed in touch with my professors and was invited back as a junior critic in the Fashion Design program before joining the faculty. At Parsons, you shift roles on projects. At one point, you’re advising students on a technical aspect of producing a garment or making a fashion video; the next moment, you’re focusing on the design brief, process, and client relationship. Each role is critical, and by directing external projects at Fashion, I get to develop each of those skills along with my students. An advantage of project-based education is that you shift roles, change agendas, and learn to be flexible—all useful skills, now more than ever. MP: That was especially evident in the LVMH project. Students formed teams of five or six members from at least two schools within Parsons—the AMT students built a website to connect students wanting to participate in the competition—and created proposals for Vuitton and us to review. Each team had to collaborate on concepts for a short film documenting the work of a New York artisan and a garment responding to that work. And they had to do it while handling the workload for their classes! FD: I think students would agree that the project has been a great experience. Fashion students were excited to collaborate with students in AMT to create short films—a medium that is becoming a bigger part of the fashion industry. Working alongside their peers— from Communication Design, Product Design, and Design and Technology, for example—creates rich connections of their own kind. One team realized they could create their own company drawing on the diverse skills of the members. MP: A lot of the video work the AMT students create is not, frankly, as glamorous as this project, so that made the collaboration even more interesting. Those students were also excited to be asked for input on fashion that was being designed as part of the competition—that’s not a typical part of their work in Design and Technology. FD: The value of that kind of cross-disciplinary work is noticed by external partners, too.
A brand like LVMH understands that Parsons brings not just creativity to a project but a whole network of people who can make the project happen, no matter how complex it is. LVMH chose Parsons as an ongoing collaborator in part because of our history of working in and across many art and design disciplines. Also, they saw at Parsons a commitment to balancing individual creativity and team effort, which is a big part of the LVMH culture. It’s a part of the Parsons culture that alumni take with them into the world.
We’d like to hear about your collaborations with other alumni or with current Parsons faculty or students. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Center) Fiona Dieffenbacher and Michie Pagulayan, directors of the Parsons-LVMH collaborative project, review student work in the studio. (Top) The “Oneders” team was paired with David Munro, a master clockmaker. The team created a look using handmade detailing, including a knit vest over a sheer dress with embroidered text in the hemline that created a romantic, timeless ensemble. Student teams presented excerpts of the films and garments they made in response to the artisans’ work at Milk Studios in February. LVMH will create a work incorporating the teams’ films and the process videos they shot throughout the project, to be previewed this June.
re:D (regarding Design) Spring 2010 Executive Editor Nancy Donner
Preserving a Legacy and Charting New Territory The Parsons Annual Fund “When I think of the unique talent and energy that Parsons brings to design education, I think of what the school could provide with just a little more support. Every bit counts!” —Dominick Leuci ’92
At Parsons, we are advancing design education by promoting collaborative and interdisciplinary study. Thanks to donors’ contributions to the Parsons Annual Fund, we are able to maintain our position as leaders in design education and as a force for social change. Your support is critical to our continued pursuit of excellence. Dominick Leuci, BFA Fashion ’92, puts it this way: “When I think of the unique talent and energy that Parsons brings to design education, I think of what the school could provide with just a little more support. Every bit counts!” Annual Fund gifts underwrite essential resources for members of the Parsons community. One such resource is PM Magazine, a publication created and run by students in which they share their ideas with the rest of the New School community. With the help of Susan Yelavich, a professor of art and design studies, and the Annual Fund, students turned a creative spark into a new platform for communication. Parsons Annual Fund donations are also used to recruit and retain top-ranking faculty by sponsoring faculty research. In addition, the fund supports curricular initiatives, public programs, and scholarships. Nadine Bourgeois, Parsons’ dean of Academic Planning, points to the range of projects made possible by the fund: “The fund supports an international student and faculty exchange with Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok. It also assisted the Student Senate in establishing a fund for student-developed initiatives. Parsons Annual Fund contributions have a direct and significant impact on students and faculty at Parsons.” Last year, about 70 percent of Annual Fund gifts came from alumni, and nearly 30 percent of the money donated came from parents. To contribute to the Parsons Annual Fund, contact Melissa Cowley Wolf or donate online. email@example.com www.newschool.edu/giving
Editorial Board Jessica Arnold, Latoya Crump, Sean Moriarty, Jen Rhee, Laetitia Wolff Parsons Advisory Board Joel Towers, Hazel Clark, Simon Collins, Miodrag Mitrasinovic, William Morrish, Sven Travis, Mark Hannah Managing Editor Julie Novacek Godsoe Editor John Haffner Layden Contributing Writers Rose Cryan, Johanna Lenander, Shonquis Moreno, Megan Santosusso, David Sokol, Angela Veliky Alumni Relations Jessica Arnold, Mara Caruso, Latoya Crump, Rachel Denny Art Director Isa Gouverneur Senior Designers Paula Giraldo, Alexandra Ståhlberg 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. CONTACT US re:D, Parsons The New School for Design 79 Fifth Avenue, 17th floor, New York, NY 10003 firstname.lastname@example.org www.newschool.edu/alumni/newsletters.html PARSONS (760-830) Volume 27, No. 6, May 2010. PARSONS is published six times a year, in July, October, November, December, April, and May, by The New School, 66 W. 12th Street, NY, NY 10011. Periodicals rate paid at New York, NY, and additional mailing offices. Postmaster: Send address changes to PARSONS, 66 West 12th Street, NY, NY 10011. credits Monica Bhatia (Portfolio); Anna Billingskog (Pathways); Don Brodie (News & Events); Brett Burton (Connected); Debby Lee Cohen (News & Events); Rachel Denny (Alumni Message); EyeWriter Development Team (Aims People Play); Ingo Fast (Aims People Play); Danielle Goldsmith (News & Events); Joung Min Han (Connected); Bob Handelman (Aims People Play); Marty Heitner (News & Events, Portfolio); Charlotte Ólöf Jónsdóttir (Aims People Play); Robert Kirkbride (Portfolio); Conway Liao (News & Events, Alumni Profiles); Colleen Macklin (Aims People Play); Robert McGuire (News & Events); Pablo A. Medina (Portfolio); James Mendolia (News & Events); Michael Moran (Working in the Round); Alex Parkin ’10 (News & Events); Phillip Retuta (Connected); Jennifer Schubert (Connected); Martin Seck (News & Events, Portfolio); Clint Spaulding/PatrickMcMullan.com (News & Events); Matthew Sussman (Working in the Round, Alumni Message, Connected); LeAnne Wagner (Aims People Play); Charles Yust (Aims People Play); Omer Ben Ziv (Aims People Play) 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, veteran or marital status.
red-handed Motomichi Nakamura â€™96 Building on doodles he makes with markers, Motomichi Nakamura has been developing the Dream Texture seriesâ€”drawings based on images that come to him in the moments between sleeping and wakingâ€”for the past three years. Much of his work is animated and accompanied by pulsating electronic music. As in this dynamic piece, suggesting creatures wheeling around one another, Nakamura uses principally black, white, and red in his work. Nakamura graduated from Parsons with a BFA in Illustration in 1996 and then moved to Ecuador, where he began working as an artist. He returned to the United States in 2000 and currently lives and works in Brooklyn. His work has been presented at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York, the Beaubourg Contemporary Art Center in Paris, Sundance, and the Holland Animation Film Festival; his clients include Sony, MTV, VH1, and the Swedish band The Knife. www.motomichi.com
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The Alumni Magazine of Parsons The New School for Design, Spring 2010.