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The Alumni Magazine of Parsons School of Design 2018 Global Resilience

Regarding Design (re:D)




News and notable alumni work



Executive Dean Joel Towers shares his thoughts on resilience and Parsons projects designed to confront an evolving future

24 IN PRODUCTION: How Parsons Is Reframing the Supply Chain  re:D surveys our community’s role in developing new making models aimed at promoting sustainability and social good



Calling alumni to support the Parsons campaign




Our Supporters

Now more than ever, we are a global community, thanks to digital technology and transnational phenomena ranging from ecological crisis to entrepreneurial opportunities. Helping us grapple with matters on an international scale are the adaptable problem-solving strategies that design

RE:WIND Iconic work from Parsons’ archives: Jogbra, a design innovation by Hinda Miller, BFA Environmental Design ’71

offers. In this issue, Regarding Design explores the ways creative capacities are making our communities, industries, environment, manufacturing, and even imaginations more flexible and robust in the global context. Parsons Executive Dean Joel Towers explains the concept of resilience, how it unifies work being undertaken across The New School, and the role he has played in introducing resilience-fostering activity to the university. Towers’ insights shed light on the new generation of changemakers who are bringing together social awareness, political engagement, and environmental advocacy at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 13th Street.

Find your alumni community on social media: @NewSchoolAlumni #ParsonsAlumni Parsons Reunion and Alumni Exhibition Opening 2018 is Saturday, October 20. Learn more at newschool.edu/parsons-reunion.

Bottom left: A detail of the green roof of the New School University Center, whose plants release oxygen and absorb rainwater that otherwise might overburden the NYC sewer system. See page 16. Bottom right: BFA Product Design students Lorraine Chen and Po Yuan Wang, shown on their Plus One extendable bench, a winner in the Parsons– Roche Bobois studio competition. See page 24.








portfolio: news & alumni work



Presented as part of Parsons Reunion 2017, the alumni exhibition (under)REPRESENT(ed) opened at the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center and ran for two weeks. Titled in recognition of the underrepresentation of artists and designers of color within creative industries, the initiative drew the community together to engage in critical conversations on racial equity and empowerment. The array of works on view illustrated the resiliency of artists of color, who often face misrepresentation or exclusion. The exhibition organizers, all alumnae of color (8), curated the works


and organized events to give alumni tools for challenging oppressive systems. Today (under)REPRESENT(ed) community members maintain the exhibition website, which serves as a repository of information fostering accurate representations of people of color in creative fields and awareness of institutional racism within the art and design industries. Shown above are works by Jeana Lindo, BFA Photography ’17 (1, 5); Noelle Flores Théard, MFA Photography ’14 (2); Joiri Minaya, BFA Fine Arts ’13 (3); Alston Green, CGRD Illustration ’72 (4); Salome Asega, MFA Design and Technology ’14 (6); and Inegumena Nosegbe, BFA Communication Design ’16 (7). newschool.edu/red/represent



Parsons re:D





Mark Randall, associate director of the BBA

Since the 2016 election, Americans have

Parsons recently launched an ongoing

Strategic Design and Management

been debating the powerful ways in which

collaboration with Cornell Tech’s Product Studio,

program and assistant professor at Parsons

technology can influence politics. As an

enabling BFA and MFA Design and Technology

(right), recently mounted AMPL!FY: Leveraging

advocate for digital transparency and user

and BFA Communication Design students

the Power of Art and Design to Advance the

privacy rights, David Carroll, MFA Design and

students to work in multidisciplinary teams

Front Lines of Social Justice, a poster-led public

Technology ’00, associate professor in the MFA

with Cornell electrical engineering, computer

design initiative, in collaboration with Janeil

Design and Technology program, has been

science, and MBA students. Each fall, companies

Engelstad. On view downtown in the Financial

at the front lines of this national discussion.

such as Google and IBM challenge the teams

District and in the Project Space at the

Shortly before the election, Carroll learned that

to respond to open-ended briefs with digital

Museum of Arts and Design in New York, the

Cambridge Analytica, a data analysis company

products created under the guidance of key

AMPL!FY posters were created by top artists

based in the UK, had collected up to 5,000 data

company leaders, mentors from NYC’s tech

and designers—including Dread Scott, Edel

points on more than 200 million American

community, and members of Cornell Tech’s

Rodriguez, Seymour Chwast, Bobby Martin,

voters. It was unclear what commercial entities,

faculty. Each spring, students form their own

and Jennifer Kinon—who were paired with

research partners, and political campaigns had

teams to propose start-ups. In fall 2016, a

nonprofits involved in social justice work. With

access to this information. According to Carroll,

group including Jia Zheng, MFA Design and

Randall and Engelstad’s guidance, the artists

the collected data could influence “everything

Technology ’17, improved machine learning

created compelling posters on issues such as

from the ads you see to your credit reporting

interfaces for Google’s customer service centers,

disability rights, girls’ empowerment, criminal

profile.” While Cambridge Analytica is reluctant

fundamentally rethinking how data is collected

justice system reform, Islamophobia, and

to reveal where it got its data and whom it has

and displayed. The following year, a team

gender expression. The exhibition was also the

shared the data with, Carroll has managed

that included Eliza Bruce, MFA Design and

setting of Lift, a social justice–themed dance

to pull together a legal claim against the

Technology ’17, spun off a company, Speech

performance by Kyle Marshall Choreography.

company in the High Court using the UK Data

Up, whose tool allows users to supplement

The initiative was organized by Make Art with

Protection Act, now underway. Since Carroll

live-speech therapy sessions with at-home

Purpose (MAP) and Worldstudio, Randall’s

first began researching and writing about the

practice. And in response to a challenge from

company, and produced in partnership

company, significant ties between Cambridge

Hale Health, a firm seeking designs to address

with the New York City Department of

Analytica and Donald Trump’s campaign have

chronic disease, a team including MFA Design

Transportation’s Art Program, the Museum

come to light. Moreover, it has been revealed

and Technology student Danielle Beecham

of Arts and Design, and Harlem Stage. The

that the company mined some of its data

(above) developed a voice-controlled chatbot

exhibition will be on view at 125th Street and

from Facebook, prompting Mark Zuckerberg

enabling patients and their physicians to track

Lenox Avenue this summer.

to apologize for compromising the privacy of

treatment progress in real time.


more than 50 million users.




Legend Low mountainous very humid forest Low mountainous humid forest

Watershed Base Color Luis Quin National Park


La Barbacoa Scientific Reserve El Cucurrucho Natural Monument

Subtropical Humid Forest

Soil productivity class VII

Basin Topography

Subtropical Humid Forest in transition to bmh-S

Soil productivity class VI


Dry Subtropical Forest Basin topography

Soil productivity class III

Streams and Tributaries Urban Municipalities Rural Community to be Analyzed



Streams and tributaries

Streams and tributaries

Urban municipalities

Urban print within the Bani River basin

Urban Parks

Main Streets and Provincial Roads

Rural community to be analyzed

Irrigation areas

Marcos A. Cabral Channel

Marcos A. Cabral Channel

Local Streets

Irrigation areas

Area of focus

Municipal Limits Fig. 01: Bani River Basin: Current State Source: Graphic created by Nelson De Jesus Ubri using information obtained through local and national government offices

Life zone limit Fig. 05: Bani River Basin: Life Zones Source: Graphic created by Nelson De Jesus Ubri using information obtained through local and national government offices

Fig. 06: Bani River Basin: Soil productive capacity Source: Graphic created by Nelson De Jesus Ubri using information obtained through local and national government offices

Legend Watershed Base Color


Basin Topography River

Maniel River Bani River

Wet-dry zone

Zone vulnerable to floods

Semi-arid zone

Vulnerable areas during flooding of the river and streams

Arid zone

Public school buildings used as shelters


Basin topography

Streams and tributaries

Urban Municipalities

Paya Creek

Fluvial pollution

Rural Community to be Analyzed

Güera River Basin topography

Irrigated areas

Main Streets and Provincial Roads


Urban municipalities

Local Streets Area of analysis for river course change River channeling with gabions

Streams and tributaries Satellite image to show actual conditions Urban municipalities

Rural community to be analyzed Erosion zone limit Irrigation channels Low erosion vulnerability

River channeling with sand walls

Rural community to be analyzed Marcos A. Cabral Channel

Mid erosion vulnerability

Debilitated gabions by river floods Fig. 04: Bani River Basin: Hydrology Source: Graphic created by Nelson De Jesus Ubri using information obtained through local and national government offices

High erosion vulnerability

Fig. 02: Bani River Basin: Floods Source: Graphic created by Nelson De Jesus Ubri using information obtained through local and national government offices

Fig. 03: Bani River Basin: Erosion Source: Graphic created by Nelson De Jesus Ubri using information obtained through local and national government offices

From top to bottom (left to right): Current Conditions; Land Use—Urban Footprint; Life Zones; Hydrology; Flood; Erosion.


”Maps help me better understand the Baní River Basin and its qualities, beauty, and needs.”


Nelson De Jesus Ubri Nelson De Jesus Ubri, BFA Architectural Design ’15,

the area. He says, “These maps serve as the heart of my

recently spent ten months as a Fulbright scholar in

research and help me better understand the Baní River

the Dominican Republic’s Peravia province expanding

Basin and its qualities, beauty, and needs.”

Upstream/Downstream, a boundary-pushing collaborative research project. Originally from the Dominican Republic, De Jesus Ubri knew the devastating effects of extreme weather firsthand; he focused his project on the impact of hurricanes on architecture and infrastructure along the Baní River Basin. He worked with local political scientists, agronomists, social workers, teachers, engineers, and journalists to develop resiliencefostering measures for the country.

Using bold colors and textured natural hues, De Jesus Ubri depicts a number of landscapes including urban centers and municipalities, regional and local parks, places vulnerable to floods, zones with fertile plains and agriculture, and eroded rocks. These coastline renderings— aesthetically sophisticated hand-drawn manifestations of text-based data—bring his research to life. “Using the tools and skills I developed at Parsons,” says De Jesus Ubri, who was a Parsons Scholar before enrolling in his BFA program,

De Jesus Ubri has distilled ten months of research into

“I’ve been able to study the landscape of my origins and

a book that is comprehensible for both English- and

apply practical architectural design to influence the future

Spanish-speaking readers, employing visual mapping

of my country’s coastal environment.”

to illustrate environmental and cultural conditions in

portfolio: news & alumni work


Streams and Tributaries

Parsons re:D


Harlem Toile de Jouy Sheila Bridges

”I wanted to create something accessible to everyone, not just the elite.”

Changemaker and design industry leader Sheila Bridges,

dancing, and fashioning hairstyles. Subverting dominant

AAS Interior Design ’93, confronts her field’s racial

white cultural references with stereotypical Black

barriers while providing clients with the cutting-edge,

ones, Bridges slyly challenges the design canon while

tailored interiors for which her celebrated practice is

underscoring the power of representation. The critically

known. Bridges cites persistence as a key to success and

acclaimed design—which debuted in 2006 as wallpaper

hopes her story will inspire young designers of color to

and has since been applied to upholstery fabric,

courageously follow their dreams as well. For Bridges,

bedding, dishware, umbrellas, and clothing—inserts

it’s partly a matter of visibility: “It’s no different from

a Black perspective into decorative arts history with

children seeing that our former President and First Lady

a product that speaks to an often ignored audience.

were African-American. Suddenly, the possibility became

Today the affordable hand-screen-printed paper is

real, and young African-Americans could aspire to great

part of the collection of Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian

heights in any industry.”

Design Museum. Reflecting on the pattern, Bridges

With her provocative pattern Harlem Toile de Jouy (above right), Bridges replaces the traditional pastoral motifs of French toile with scenes depicting AfricanAmerican subjects at leisure, playing basketball,

says, “As a designer, it’s necessary for me to be aware of what’s happening in the real world. I wanted to create something accessible to everyone, not just the elite.” sheilabridges.com

Facing a Foggy Mirror Christopher Udemezue The immersive photographic series Facing a Foggy

While at Parsons, Udemezue began investigating the

Mirror, created in 2017 by Christopher Udemezue, BFA

past under the guidance of longtime faculty member

Integrated Design ’08, illuminates the lesser-known

Susan Weller. She urged him to claim his title as artist

histories of people of color and the Caribbean LGBTQ+

and commit himself to a career in art. Since graduating,

community. In his photographs, the artist suspends

Udemezue has developed his creative voice and continued

tropical landscapes and allegorical scenes in saturated

the conversation on racial identity through projects like

hues against a dramatic black abyss. Intentionally

RAGGA NYC, a platform that combines community events

placed symbols—such as the floating white hand of a

and online interviews. Just last year, RAGGA NYC was

colonizer, shown below—hint at Udemezue’s objective:

exhibited in the New Museum. “People of color in general,

to reclaim and defend his people’s suppressed legacy.

and Caribbean people living here in the United States, are

By representing historically unseen individuals in contemporary media, Udemezue establishes his present-day perspective, asking, in his words, “Where is

too often disconnected from their story,” says Udemezue. “I’m here to help people find themselves.” christopherudemezue.net

my queer self? What are the stories of my trans sisters during the fight for freedom in Trinidad and Tobago? What are the stories of my femme brothers in Puerto

always been here.”

”I’m here to help people find themselves.” portfolio: news & alumni work

continues, giving answers, “We were there, too. We have


Rico’s rebellions against the Spaniards?” Udemezue

Blooming Yuni Kim Lang In Blooming, a portrait series by artist Yuni Kim Lang, BFA Communication Design ’09, nature and coiffure merge into an expansive landscape representing their creator’s exploration of identity. Lang’s fields of “hair” (made of mixed fiber materials) invite the viewer to luxuriate in the densely textured details that spread across her large-scale photographs. Lang’s work often unites live performance and dramatic hairpieces that recall the Korean gache—an elaborate and aesthetically pleasing if unwieldy wig. In one piece, a performer lies in a public space wearing one of Lang’s sculptures, Comfort Hair, which she then sheds like a reptile ridding herself of a skin, suggesting the nature of identity as something that constantly grows and evolves. When asked how she came to her signature visual motif, Lang says, “I fantasize about my hair; it stands in for my cultural identity, which is an evolving organism that continues to grow and prosper. Hair is always personal, and my work is definitely very personal.” Lang goes on to explain that her work is framed by both cultural identity and selfidentity. A “third culture kid,” she was born in South Korea and grew up in China, attending an American international school there, before moving to the United States. Since then, she’s been on a mission to create her own identity through a meditative artistic process. Her creative journey has resonated with audiences the world over: Lang’s artwork has been featured in solo and group exhibitions in spaces including the Frost Art Museum (Miami, Florida), John Michael Kohler Art Center (Sheboygan, Wisconsin), BLINDSIDE (Melbourne, Australia), and Galerie Marzee (Nijmegen, the Netherlands). yunikimlang.com

Water Collective Sophia Sunwoo Inspired to bolster faltering clean water efforts in the developing world, Sophia Sunwoo, BBA Strategic Design and Management ’10, and Josh Braunstein established Water Collective, a nonprofit focused


Parsons re:D

on water system maintenance. According to Sunwoo, 40 percent of the water systems installed in rural communities break down two to five years after being put into operation. The statistic drives Water Collective’s mission of involving local communities throughout the process, from installing the equipment to learning to maintain it. “The only way to sustain any solution is to give a community full autonomy in caring for it,” says Sunwoo. This approach is one that she developed at Parsons and now applies daily. “At Parsons, there’s a practice of arriving at thoughtful, functional solutions by addressing problems from the bottom up.” Sunwoo’s impressive entrepreneurial efforts began at age 19 in her dorm room with the launch of an apparel company, which she sold four years after securing 250 retailers worldwide. Her hands-on approach and Braunstein’s background in nonprofit water management are enmeshed in the organization’s grassroots foundation. Sunwoo says, “In the beginning, we had one objective: We wanted our organization to be a true reflection of what rural communities needed. We wanted to learn about the complicated and unsavory aspects of the water crisis, which we knew other organizations didn’t want to touch. From there, we created a working solution that lasts.” sophiasunwoo.com

This year, Parsons welcomed guests including groundbreaking British artist Yinka Shonibare MBE and Brazilian artist Maria Thereza Alves in the Vera List Center for Art and Politics’ Public Art Fund Talks at The New School; David Rockwell, founder of the interdisciplinary architecture firm the Rockwell Group, who was interviewed by Paul Goldberger for the series At The Parsons Table (bottom left); contemporary artist Leonardo Drew, Brooklyn-based painter and sculptor Nicole

on fashion, justice, and culture hosted

gave students the opportunity to focus on

by the School of Fashion, and Chad Phillips,

special-use apparel and engage with socially

creative director and director of retail, Brooklyn

aware design. Coming together from several BFA

Museum (top right, at left, with BFA Product

programs, students reimagined the hospital gown

Design director Daniel Michalik), both in events

in consultation with patients, doctors, laundering

that were part of the Nth Degree Series; and

experts, and hospital administrators. The resulting

Bridget Foley, executive editor of WWD, who

hard-wearing gown (above) enables medical staff

joined legendary fashion designer and Fashion

to discreetly examine patients and can be washed

Design alumnus Jeffrey Banks ’75 at a launch

and recycled in an ecologically responsible

event for his new book, Norell: Master of

way. The design is being tested in a community

American Fashion.

hospital run by the nonprofit MedStar. With more than 589 million people admitted into hospitals

Eisenman (top left), and visual artist Torkwase


Dyson, who discussed their work in AMT’s

Systems and Society, a new pathway of the

Visiting Artist Lecture Series; Paola Mendoza,

BFA Fashion Design program, encourages

artistic director of the Women’s March on

students to engage in socially aware resilient

Washington, who participated in a discussion

design. This year, the track gave students

in the CreativeMornings at Parsons School of

the opportunity to collaborate with major

Design series; photographer Tabitha Soren,

external partners on solving real-world

who gave an artist’s talk in the Aperture series;

design problems. To help designers integrate

illustrator and graphic designer Bob Gill, who

sustainability throughout the design process,

participated in the New York Comics & Picture-

Kering, a leading fashion holding company, has

Story Symposium; designer and architect Yu

created an open-source methodology called

Nong Khew, presented in the SCE Lecture

Environmental Profit and Loss (EP&L). Parsons

Series; Paola Antonelli, senior curator of the

BFA Fashion Design students were invited to

Department of Architecture & Design at MoMA

test the methodology with the easy-to-use

and director of R&D for the “Unruly Design”

My EP&L application, which allows users to

symposium, organized by Parsons’ School

measure the environmental impact of design

of Art and Design History and Theory; Elaine

decisions on a large scale. Having identified

Welteroth (bottom right), editor in chief of Teen

preferred materials, students worked with

Vogue, who participated with Kim Jenkins,

Kering to source their final projects. Another

MA Fashion Studies ’13, in a panel discussion

collaboration, with the start-up Care+Wear,

annually, the potential impact of the students’ gown is enormous. The gown is also available for purchase on the Care+Wear website; a percentage of the proceeds will be used to fund a scholarship at Parsons. Yet another collaboration took place with UNFPA, the United Nations’ reproductive health and rights agency, and Hela Clothing, a global textile and garment manufacturer. Whether they are on the move or settled in a temporary camp, displaced women often lack access to basic hygiene products and clean water. To address this problem, Parsons students developed a reusable sanitary undergarment with a high-absorbency gusset made with Hela’s Dry-3 technology. Once the new design has been fully developed, the undergarments will be included in safe birth kits distributed in the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. newschool.edu/red/epl newschool.edu/red/gown



portfolio: news & alumni work



Parsons re:D





Parsons’ annual benefit funds New School

This year, Design Indaba and Dutch Design

Parsons faculty who have recently published

scholarships while honoring design community

Week (DDW) came together to create

books include Mariana Amatullo, associate

members who advance the field and the

Antenna, an interactive platform on which

professor of strategic design and management,

university’s mission. The 70th Parsons Benefit

design graduates can showcase their ideas

and Andrew Shea, assistant professor of

featured three honorees: Marco Bizzarri, who

for shaping the future. Antenna’s inaugural

integrated design (LEAP Dialogues: Career

since 2015 has served as Gucci’s president

event, which took place at DDW in Eindhoven,

Pathways in Design for Social Innovation);

and CEO, leading the company through a

featured 20 young designers from around the

Anastasia Aukeman, part-time assistant

transformative period and nearly doubling its

world. Among those chosen to present were

professor (Welcome to Painterland); Juliette

sales; José Neves, founder and CEO of Farfetch,

Parsons’ Renata Souza, BFA Product Design

Cezzar, assistant professor of communication

whose luxury industry platform connects people

’17, and BFA Photography student Myles Loftin.

design (The AIGA Guide to Careers in Graphic

to boutiques and fashion brands in more than

Souza took the opportunity to showcase

Communication Design); Steven Faerm, BFA

40 countries; and multidisciplinary performer

Thomy, an insulin kit for children with type 1

Fashion Design ’94, associate professor of

and style icon Solange Knowles (shown wearing

diabetes that uses temporary tattoos to help

fashion (Fashion Design Course: Principles,

a look by Cushnie et Ochs, the label created by

them remember where insulin was previously

Practice, and Technique, 2nd ed.); part-time

BFA Fashion Design graduates Carly Cushnie

injected. Thomy began as Souza’s senior project

instructor Greg Foley (Cool: Style, Sound, and

’07 and Michelle Ochs ’09). Eventgoers enjoyed

at Parsons and was later named a national

Subversion); Jamer Hunt, associate professor of

dance performances, and BFA Jazz vocalist Arta

finalist for the James Dyson Foundation Award.

transdisciplinary design (Visual Communication

Jēkabsone, accompanied by a quintet of peers

Souza also went on to present her project at

Design, co-authored by Meredith Davis); Robert

from The New School’s College of Performing

Design Indaba in Cape Town. Loftin presented

Kirkbride, dean of the School of Constructed

Arts, took the stage. Auctioneer Lydia Wickliffe

his project Hooded, a multimedia series

Environments (Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital Book); Lara Penin, associate professor

Fenet took bids on high-ticket donated items.

that counters mainstream media portrayals

Awards in a range of design categories were

of “black boys and black men dressed in

of transdisciplinary design (An Introduction to

conferred, closing out the night. Enhancing the

hoodies” with positive and humanizing

Service Design: Designing the Invisible); and Timo

event was PROXIMITIES, an installation inviting

imagery. “I plan to continue using my role as a

Rissanen, assistant professor of fashion design

attendees to explore light’s role in creating social

photographer and my voice in order to diversify

and sustainability (Zero Waste Fashion Design,

spaces, developed by alumni Yuliya Savelyeva,

the representations of the misrepresented,”

co-authored by Holly McQuillan, and Shaping

MArch/MFA Lighting Design ’16, and Lindsey

explains Loftin, who was recently honored as

Sustainable Fashion, co-authored by Alison Gwilt).

Dieter, MFA Lighting Design and Interior Design

one of The Root’s 2018 Young Futurists.

double major ’16, and staged by students guided


by program director Glenn Shrum. parsonsbenefit.newschool.edu

Warp + Weft Sarah Ahmed Sarah Ahmed, BBA Design and Management ’11, has a mission of fostering inclusivity in the fashion industry. And her efforts, begun just after graduation, are focused on the very backbone of the American wardrobe: denim. Standard sizing for the quintessential sportswear staple, jeans, ranges from 0 to 14, even though “67 percent of women in the United States are above a size 14,” says Ahmed. Using the reach of her family’s apparel business and her own entrepreneurial savvy, Ahmed launched Warp + Weft, an inexpensive jeans line tailored to all body types. “We wanted to create a brand that has mass appeal yet provides excellent quality and value. Everyone wears jeans, so democratizing that space was long overdue!” Beyond the gains Ahmed has already secured in socially inclusive fashion, she pushes for sustainable work practices and implements a well-considered supply chain. “We are an end-to-end vertical, which means we control the entire process, from spinning fiber to the final product, allowing us to be very efficient. For example, our denim uses 95 percent less water than regular denim.” Ahmed’s involvement in the process allows her and her team to continually find opportunities to reduce the environmental impact of their work. Ahmed is also creative director of her family’s business, DL1961. In that role, she produced an arresting media campaign featuring four creative pioneers—including Emily Ratajkowski and Maye

AUS-Plus skirt and PSP-Crop

Musk—who are spreading the message of female empowerment

bootcut jean from Warp + Weft.

through fashion.

Aya Jaffar Shown at left are materials that Aya Jaffar, MFA Transdisciplinary Design ’16, created for the Empathy Workshop, a design-led exercise held at a recent Fast Company Innovation Festival. The workshop introduced festival attendees to the human-centered design processes Jaffar employs in her work for a branch of the design consultancy IDEO.org that takes on humanitarian issues, including the current refugee crisis. The workshop’s goal was to develop participants’ empathy for others and help them find commonalities with displaced persons and thereby connect on an individual basis. Says Jaffar, “How can we gain empathy for refugees if we don’t interact with them?” The engaging collateral devised by Jaffar and her colleagues included fictitious refugee “letters” that discuss relatable struggles like finding jobs or keeping in touch with far-off family. The suite was anchored by a poster that folds into a brochure, with prompts to guide participants through the workshop. Questions on the brochure’s cover challenged workshop attendees to apply their newfound empathy to problems like those facing refugee organizations daily. “The questions suggest there might be a variety of answers. They aren’t closed cases, and people respond to that,” says Jaffar. Having grown up in Iraq and moved a number of times, Jaffar has long investigated the meaning of identity and place. “It felt natural to combine my passion and Parsons’ approach to solution finding. People can ideate answers to significant world problems only through collaboration and openness.” ayajaffar.com


Empathy Workshop (Designing for Refugees)

portfolio: news & alumni work




Parsons re:D




A team of Master of Architecture students

Alumni from all disciplines and years

in Parsons’ Design Workshop—the School

reunite on campus yearly to renew bonds,

of Constructed Environments’ design-build

celebrate creativity, and learn about exciting

studio carrying out pro bono projects for local

developments at their school. This year, alumni

nonprofits and communities—reimagined

were briefed on Parsons’ ELab entrepreneurship

the 1,200-square-foot entrance hall of the

incubator, toured the Making Center, and took

Children’s Museum of the Arts (CMA) in TriBeCa

in the panel “Consciously Created: Parsons

(above). Designed in the spring 2017 semester

Alumni Design for Social Impact,” in which

and constructed over the following summer,

recent graduates discussed design-led socially

the new space accommodates the particular

engaged initiatives with Parsons Executive

needs of the museum, including stroller storage,

Dean Joel Towers. Panelists included Grace

acoustics, branding, and the use of nontoxic

Jun, MFA Design and Technology ’16, assistant

building materials. According to the museum’s

professor at Parsons’ School of Fashion and

executive director, Barbara Hunt McLanahan,

executive director of Open Style Lab; David

the result was an inviting space that enabled

Carroll, MFA Design and Technology ’00, data

the museum “to welcome all children and their

and design expert, digital policy activist, and

families to make art at CMA.” For summer 2018,

associate professor of media design at Parsons’

the Design Workshop will focus on creating the

School of Art, Media, and Technology; Raquel

Loop Learning Center, an all-weather structure

de Anda, MS Design and Urban Ecologies

that will be built on Governors Island and

’15, curator, producer, and co-organizer of the

serve as a facility for educational programs

2014 People’s Climate March (see page 14);

related to sustainability, including recycling

and BFA Product Design ’15 alumni Amanat

and composting. Faculty leads on the project

Anand and Shubham Issar, co-founders of

are assistant professor of modeling technology

SoaPen and winners of a UNICEF Wearables for

Joel Stoehr, assistant professor and MArch

Good Challenge. Saturday night featured the

program director Mark Gardner, visiting

opening of (under)REPRESENT(ed), this year’s

professor of architecture Sharon Sutton, and

alumni exhibition, which showcased works

part-time assistant professor Nick Brinen.

by artists and designers of color selected by


a curatorial collective led by Nadia Williams, BFA Fashion Design ’01 (see page 1). A Sunday

highlight was the first screening in 30 years of EXPEDITION, a film created to present the fall 1985 collection of legendary designer and BFA Fashion Design alumnus Willi Smith. Kim Jenkins, MA Fashion Studies ’13, moderated discussion of the film and Smith’s unique place in fashion with a panel that included Kim Hastreiter, editor of PAPER Magazine; Mark Bozek, the film’s producer; and Bethann Hardison, model and activist (shown above). In attendance were Max Vadukal, the pioneering photographer and filmmaker, who directed the film for Smith; Fern Mallis, creator of New York Fashion Week; and scores of Smith’s friends and colleagues. Thanks go out to the creative industry leaders of the reunion organizing committee, who work year-round to produce the event’s many activities. newschool.edu/parsons-reunion

CATEGORY OF WON Since its founding, Parsons School of Design has steadily grown into one of the most highly regarded design schools in the world—a fact exemplified by our alumni, who are innovators in design industries ranging from fashion and digital design to architecture and design management. This year, Parsons was named the Best College for Art and Design in the United States and was ranked second globally by Quacquarelli Symonds World University



menswear. Akasaka was awarded a €150,000

one comes up with ideas addressing social issues

and career information provider that shares

grant and a year-long mentorship by the LVMH

such as disaster preparedness, one must keep

annual university rankings.

group. Katiuscia Gregoire, BFA Fashion Design

in mind the process of discovery and innovation.


’17, was named a finalist for the H&M Design

Watching Parsons students over the past few

Award 2018. Through her work (top), Gregoire

days, I truly felt that they have a strong grasp of


challenges objectification and stereotypical

these two concepts.”

representations of gender, sexuality, and race.


Each year, our students and alumni win accolades that carry the Parsons name and our innovative approach to education out into the world. This year, influential fashion designer Narciso Rodriguez, BFA Fashion Design ’82 (bottom left), was honored with the CFDA’s Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award. Fellow School of Fashion alumnus Matthew Adams Dolan, MFA Fashion Design and Society ’14, was named a finalist for the prestigious 2018 LVMH Young Fashion Designers Prize, which will be awarded in June. For his recent collection, Dolan reworked classic A-line skirts and blazers, incorporating details of the oversized silhouette that made his denim collections popular with celebrities like Rihanna. MFA program alumni Katherine Mavridis ’15, Xue Snow Gao ’16, and Neil Grotzinger ’17 were semifinalists for the same award. They follow on the heels of Kozaburo Akasaka, MFA Fashion Design and Society ’16 (bottom right), who received the special prize in the 2017 LVMH Young Fashion Designers competition. His line KOZABURO, now available at New York’s Dover Street Market, was recognized for its delicately deconstructed

newschool.edu/red/lvmh newschool.edu/red/hm

DISASTER RESISTANT 20 Students from throughout Parsons’ School of Constructed Environments commemorated September 11 by participating in a design intensive led by Hirokazu Nagata (left), a leading expert and consultant on disaster preparedness. After investigating case studies such as the 1977 and 2003 New York blackouts and Hurricane Sandy, the students developed solutions in architecture and industrial, lighting, interior, and product design to aid people facing natural or man-made disasters. As the week drew to a close, an exhibition showcasing the students’ work was held in the University Center. This design intensive was the jumping-off point for the Earth Manual Project, a collaborative exhibition that will be on display for the first time in North America at Parsons’ Sheila C. Johnson Design Center in fall 2018. “I can’t say enough about the quality of these ideas and projects,” Nagata said of the intensive. “When

FORMATION OF A SCHOLAR 21 AAS Graphic Design student Avery Youngblood was the recipient of Beyoncé’s Formation Scholarship, a one-time $25,000 grant inspired by the musician’s groundbreaking album Lemonade. Youngblood began her academic career at Stanford, where she helped coordinate Black Women’s History Month on campus and served as the head of the political action committee for the Black Student Union. During her time at Parsons, Youngblood has learned to use her craft as a medium for activism. Her work invites viewers to contemplate the language of prejudice and discrimination in America. “Parsons has taught me that every aspect of design, however subtle or nuanced, plays a crucial role in communicating messages,” says Youngblood. “I hope to pursue my goals as the woman Beyoncé looked for in a scholar, which is to be bold, unique, creative, and think outside the box.” Parsons also awarded $5,000 to each of the finalists: Leah Takele, Bailey Hardaway, Olufunmilayo Bright, and Caroline Macfarlane. newschool.edu/red/formation


Rankings, a London-based higher education

portfolio: news & alumni work





ON VIEW AT SJDC 22 Recently on view at the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center was the Climate Museum’s


Parsons re:D

inaugural show, In Human Time: An Exhibition

Wendy Ewald; Lyle Ashton Harris; Rashid

also appeared on the S/S ’17 Safety Pin line by

Johnson; Glenn Ligon; Lorna Simpson; Carrie

Midnight Studios, designed by LA streetwear

Mae Weems; alumna Sable Elyse Smith, MFA

designer Shane Gonzales and recently worn on

Design and Technology ’13; and others.

tour by Kendrick Lamar. And they were used for

in Two Parts, which explored intersections of


polar ice, human experience, and time through


video and photography installations by artists Zaria Forman and Peggy Weil (bottom right). An accompanying conversation included Weil, new director and chief curator of SJDC Christiane Paul, and the land artist Oliver Kellhammer, who discussed how art could enhance our understanding of the environment. Also on view was Maria Thereza Alves, Seeds of Change: New York—A Botany of Colonization (top), the first presentation of Alves’ work in the Americas, showcasing her studies on colonialism, slavery, and global commerce through a living installation of plants used as ballast on ships. Earlier in the year, A Working Model of the World—an exhibition developed and presented with Dr. Lizzie Muller at UNSW Galleries, Sydney, and Holly Williams from The Curators’ Department—featured models as a form of creative and intellectual exploration and showcased artists from Australia, New Zealand, and the United States (bottom left). A show drawn largely from the New School Art Collection, memory is a tough place., underscored the importance of photography for effecting social change and attaining racial equality, highlighting artworks by

PRE T T Y IN INK 23 Julia Gorton, BFA Communication Design

an HP custom print for bandannas sold at last summer’s Coachella Festival. newschool.edu/red/julia newschool.edu/red/julia-instagram

’80, a participant documentarian of NYC’s


downtown scene in the 1970s and early

Led by assistant professor Kyle Li, MFA Design

1980s, has recently been sharing her creative

and Technology ’08, students and faculty from

work in venues around the world. Gorton, who

Parsons’ School of Art, Media, and Technology

directs Parsons’ AAS Graphic Design program,

(AMT) have installed an industrial-level still

created a limited-edition book, Pretty in Punk,

photography and motion tracking studio on the

showcasing her intimate photo portraits of

lower level of the Making Center. The studio’s

musicians and poets like Lydia Lunch, Debbie

powerful tools will provide students with new

Harry, and Tom Verlaine. After receiving

opportunities to unleash their creativity. The

attention for her photography, posted on

studio is equipped with an OptiTrack mocap

Instagram, Gorton was featured in publications

system and retractable 20-inch seamless

such as i-D, AnotherMan, Obey, McQ Fanzine,

background holder, which will enable students

and Vice’s Garage. London venues Untitled

to create new media in the realms of digital

Bar and Doomed Gallery invited her to lecture

animation, video game design, data visualization,

on her work; Chris Stamey, organizer of the

live performance, and virtual, augmented,

SXSW 2018 panel “From CBGB to the World: A

and mixed reality. “We’re keeping up with

Downtown Diaspora,” asked her to take part

technological changes across a range of fields,”

in his event and show her work there; and her

says Anne Gaines, MFA Fine Arts ’00, dean of

portraits were displayed in Pretty in Punk at

AMT, “thus giving our students opportunities to

the International Center of Photography and

reimagine the type of work that can be created.”

were projected in the museum’s windows after


hours (see above). Gorton’s photographs have

Wisada Floor Cushions Ayah Al Bitar Saudi-born Ayah Al Bitar, BFA Product Design ’14, is opening

and bottom right). The motifs illustrate stories Saudi women

up dialogue about her country’s ban on female drivers

shared with Al Bitar about their transportation experiences.

through her Wisada orthopedic floor cushions. In 2013, women in Riyadh took to the streets demanding the right to drive but were granted permission only to ride bicycles in the presence of a man. A champion of women’s rights, Al Bitar was moved to action by the protest. “I imagined a piece of

Wisada is designed to create a safe space where people can speak freely about feminism at home and in public spaces. “These seats may be a tool for social impact,” says Al Bitar, “but it’s the conversations they spark that create change.”

furniture shaped like a bike seat,” she says. “Wisada became


an embodiment of the way design triggers social change. It


inspires people to stop, sit, and speak.” A literal conversation piece, Wisada derives from traditional

aesthetics and Al Bitar’s cultural heritage. Made from highquality, carefully sourced materials, the cushion has several variants, one of which incorporates illustrations that call to mind illuminated manuscripts and graphic novels (see left

”Wisada became an embodiment of the way design triggers social change.”

portfolio: news & alumni work

audience. The design draws on both contemporary


Middle Eastern floor seating but is targeted to a universal


Parsons re:D

”Viewers stop, wondering if what they’re seeing is real or fictional, while an activist impulse forms in their minds.”

Argus Project Raquel de Anda Ron Morrison Ayodamola Tanimowo Okunseinde Raquel de Anda, MS Design and Urban Ecologies ’15;

and institutional racism play across multiple screens. The

Ron Morrison, MS Design and Urban Ecologies ’15; and

intervention—training for citizen activists—is a platform

Ayodamola Tanimowo Okunseinde, MFA Design and

for commenting on state surveillance and police brutality.

Technology ’15, recently applied their creative and intellectual

Okunseinde says, “Viewers tend to stop for a moment,

skills to a critical issue. Inspired by the tale of Argus Panoptes,

wondering if what they’re seeing is real or fictional, while

the mythological many-eyed guardian, the three worked with

an activist impulse forms in their minds.” All three creators

artist Gan Golan and filmmaker Ligaiya Romero to stage a

focus on social justice, but their combined skills gave rise to

design intervention aimed at sparking conversation about

a uniquely compelling outcome. De Anda, a cultural producer

police accountability. The Argus Project, their transmedia

and curator who has long engaged with equity, served as

provocation, combines wearable sculpture, video, and

overall producer. Morrison, a designer with a social practice,

interactive performance in what they call “Activist Tech-

lent his experience in urban and sociotechnical systems.

nology for the Citizen Body.” Resembling superhero armor,

And Okunseinde, known for his progressive approach to art

the futuristic suit (worn by Argus associate producer Julien

and technology and his embrace of Afrofuturism, acted as

Terrell, above) is embedded with cameras, enabling wearers

technical lead.

to document abuses of police power. Interviews with officers,


activists, and family members affected by police brutality


In 2018, Parsons’ MFA Design and Technology (MFA DT) program celebrates its 20th year, maintaining its place at the leading edge of digital media education. Since its inception, the program has aimed to provide a rich, diverse environment in which students and faculty can engage their interests and skills in future-facing efforts to improve the world. Program co-founder and associate professor of media and design Sven Travis reports that MFA DT “has grown tremendously” in the past two decades. “Today it is one of the largest, most varied graduate communities you’ll find anywhere.” Throughout its history, the flexible curriculum has evolved, guiding designers in confronting three fundamental challenges: design’s expanding influence on society, the growing presence of programmable systems, and the diffusion of increasingly complex technology and its implications. Students work in a range of areas, including interaction design, data visualization, virtual and augmented reality, creative coding and software development, game design, educational technology, arts practice, wearable tech, networked media, and the Internet of things. Program co-founder and part-time associate professor Anthony Deen, MArch ’95, elaborates, saying, “The program encompasses an ever-widening range of fields—even

architecture, product design, and exhibition

development” in the region. Groshart’s class,

design—in which our students produce

which began work in Haiti in 2016, will be

cutting-edge work offering audiences new and

followed by another on-site project at the end

engaging experiences.” Alumni from all years

of May.

convened on campus in May to reconnect with


the program’s faculty—many of whom have taught for the program’s entire lifetime—and share the groundbreaking, high-social-impact


work they’re doing with the world.

Once again, Parsons and New School alumni



figured prominently on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list for 2017. In the Art and Style category were contemporary artist Elizabeth “Bunny” Rogers, BFA Fine Art ’13 (middle right); Museum of Ice

Most of us take electricity for granted, but

Cream founder Maryellis Bunn, BBA Strategic

there are communities all over the world that

Design and Management ’14 (bottom); fashion

must operate in relative darkness after sunset.

designer Sandy Liang, BFA Fashion Design

Parsons faculty member and alumnus Chad

’13 (middle left); founder of inclusive fashion

Groshart, MFA Lighting Design ’02, led six

label Warp + Weft Sarah Ahmed, BBA Strategic

students from the Lighting for Developing

Design and Management ’11 (see page 9);

Countries class on a trip to Haiti, with the goal

entrepreneurial creative technologist Conor

of showing them how lighting design can make

Russomanno, MFA Design and Technology ’13

a difference in people’s lives. On the island of

(top right); and Maria Kazakova, MFA Fashion

La Gonâve, the students worked with locals

Design and Society ’16, founder and designer

and the community investment group Roots

of cult favorite fashion collection JAHNKOY.

of Development to design, source, and install

Named as All-Star Alumni were Carly Cushnie,

solar-powered lighting fixtures. Mounted on

BFA Fashion Design ’07; Michelle Ochs, BFA

25-foot poles, these fixtures illuminate public

Fashion Design ’09; Sophia Sunwoo, BBA

areas, enabling the local community to travel

Strategic Design and Management ’10 (in the

more freely and to gather, socialize, and sell

Social Entrepreneurs category); and Eugene

goods after dark. According to Groshart, the

Lang College alumna Leandra Medine.

lighting will be “seen as a marker of progress”


that will help attract more partners to “advance



portfolio news & alumni work portfolio:


Designed technology-driven change, to name a few—test our systems and urgently call for flexible new responses. In a conversation with re:D, Executive Dean Joel Towers discusses five recent Parsons projects that reflect the university’s imaginative, adaptive approaches to helping communities, economies, and the environment flourish during this challenging time. And as Towers prepares to assume a prestigious university-wide professorship, he shares his ideas about sustainability, resilience, and design-led change in the age of the Anthropocene.


Parsons re:D

By John Haffner Layden


Powerful global forces—migration, climate change, and

Regarding Design: A great deal of interdisciplinary work at the university focuses on sustainability and resilience. What is the difference between these terms, and how do they relate to the case studies in this article? Joel Towers: The term sustainability gained traction in the 1960s and 1970s, when people were exploring earth shelters and other energy-efficiency measures, and it came into popular use in international development and architecture circles in the late 1980s with the Brundtland Commission report.1 Sustainability refers to practices that enable people to meet their needs without constraining future generations from doing the same. It’s often used in relation to the use and waste of natural resources. Resilience is the ability to adapt to changing conditions in ways that don’t cause systems to collapse. Both of these terms have roots in environmental science, regard resources as finite and to be conserved for long-term ecological and human health, and consider phenomena from a systems thinking perspective. And they both are used in connection with reducing the impact of humans on the planet. But sustainability is associated with a “steady-state” approach, in which the status quo can be carried forward over time. In contrast, resilience assumes a flow of changing conditions, which better characterizes our dynamic environment and the elasticity needed to effectively support systems of all kinds. As an architect, designer, and environmentalist, I often focus on natural ecosystems, but resilience applies equally to cultural, economic, and political systems. The case studies shown here map resilience-fostering responses across a range of

disciplines and outcomes. These are just a few examples; virtually all of the work coming from students today embodies a design-led way to make critical systems—such as those related to food production, housing, education, and clothing—more resilient for future generations. re:D: What drives Parsons students to make work that addresses resilience and sustainability? JT: A number of things. Life today is filled with disruption— sudden, intense, often climate change–driven events—that underscore dramatically changing conditions and the strain on systems supporting the planet. Many students arrive at Parsons understanding this situation and wanting to make a difference. From the first semester on, they’re immersed in the ways systems—the biosphere, identity, communication, making, governing—function and don’t function, coordinate and collide. Parsons and The New School as a whole have a long tradition of interdisciplinary research and action aimed at making communities stronger. Resilience as a focus here brings together social justice and engagement, environmentalism, design, and other areas in ways that young designers find relevant. As the university integrates further, students from all disciplines are taking courses and making work together, enriching their creative responses to the question of resilience. Our pedagogy is designed to develop critical capacities for greater impact. For example, the student work coming out of Tony Dunne and Fiona Raby’s Designed Realities Lab, which reimagines humans’ relationships to other life forms, demonstrates how imaginative systems research can be (Case Study 1).

CASE STUDY 1: DESIGNED REALITIES LAB In challenging students to creatively engage with futures beyond the expected scenarios, speculative designers Tony Dunne and Fiona Raby aim to develop the capacity a designer needs most to build system resilience: a flexible, open imagination

beyond normative conceptions of the world and explore unknown


students in creating a book titled The First Biennale of Experimental

Industrial Design, and Transdisciplinary Design programs and the Anthropology and Sociology programs at The New School for Social Research (NSSR), led by Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby, professors of design and emerging technology at The New School PROJECT OVERVIEW In academic settings, design research is often expected to yield practical results. According to Anthony Dunne, this approach to intellectual inquiry thwarts the development of the resilience that humanity needs in order to contend with the 21st century’s increasingly complex and thorny challenges. Dunne and his design partner, Fiona Raby, have launched the Designed Realities Lab at Parsons as an alternative research model. Their aim: to cultivate the imagination. They invite students to go

involving writing, film, and other media. The goal is to allow students “to move away from framing things as problems to be solved and instead consider them more like spaces to be investigated,” says Dunne. In this year’s Designed Realities Lab course, Dunne and Raby led Micronations.1 Student contributions engage with the micronation—a “platform for exploring new perspectives on citizenship, nationality, the sovereign state, and territory.” Projects consider human relationships with the planet and ask whether alternative systems might bring other life forms onto an equal standing with people. “This project provides a space where students could shake off what we think of as sensible, realistic, and plausible and let their imaginations flow,” says Dunne. Dunne and Raby hope to foster in students’ thinking a resilience and flexibility that enables them to create alternative conceptions of the world. “Designers are operating in an intellectual space that’s troubled and turbulent as well as pragmatic,” says Dunne. “This class is about finding ways they can be resilient as imaginative beings.” Designed by Lucille Tenazas and Talia Cotton, BFA Communication Design ’17, as part of the Collab: University Design Studio course. Spreads from the book are shown below.



Students from Parsons’ Design and Technology, Design Studies,

terrain through speculative design propositions and experiments

re:D: Explain how the Designed Realities Lab is connected to resilience. JT: Tony and Fiona’s open-ended learning experiments challenge students in the lab to explore alternative futures. Freed from the need to conceive and solve “real-world” problems, students ask provocative questions that stretch their speculative capacities. The goal is to develop a resilient imagination that can flex and contend with the spectrum of contemporary intellectual, philosophical, and pragmatic questions. Their line of inquiry critiques the problem-solution construct that leads to solving immediate problems but failing to think broadly about the systems affected. re:D: Does the fact that many students are engaged in making, which has specific implications for sustainability and resilience, account for student work on the topic? JT: In part, and we have a number of resources at Parsons, like the Healthy Materials Lab,2 with its extensive programming and samples library, to help students consider material choices and post-use scenarios that align human and environmental health. But today designers have to engage with resilience even before the materials selection stage. The question “Do we even need this object?” is something you hear in studio courses here. Overconsumption is a behavior that designers can help change through a variety of means, from creating thoughtfully made objects that are passed down from generation to generation instead of being continually replaced to service design initiatives that change people’s minds about what they need in the first place. This shift

naturally changes the criteria by which we evaluate the success of designs. We should be asking, Is a design solution environmentally restorative? Does it help close the loop in a circular economy, reducing waste and getting maximum use out of things? We’re always going to need new products, services, and systems, but we have to find ways that don’t place our rights to, or claims on, resources above those of future populations. re:D: It sounds as if you’re proposing new criteria for design and designers. JT: We need a fundamental reframing of the word design to expand its role. People tend to look to design to solve problems by creating artifacts rather than advocating for new perspectives and ways of living in the world, which are urgently needed today. If we broaden design’s focus to include changing behaviors, then our task becomes designing the tools to increase system resilience through design. Central to a new framing is considering our work within longer time frames— generations instead of seasons, for example. If you think of the layers inside ice cores (we had an incredible exhibition in the Aronson Gallery on the subject this year)3 as markers of environmental change over hundreds of thousands of years, you see the increasing effects of our industrial societies. Those cores, together with Charles Keeling’s Mauna Loa data,4 powerfully communicate that continuing with business as usual is bringing our ecosystem toward collapse. Cultures that have traditionally thought in more expansive, multigenerational time frames rather than the span of a single individual’s life may offer better paths to resilience.


Parsons re:D

CASE STUDY 2: MAKING HOME IN WOUNDED PLACES: MEMORY, DESIGN, AND THE SPATIAL A recent New School international conference brought together material and cultural studies scholars to explore design-driven resilience among communities facing conflict and change PARSONS/NSSR TEAM Susan Yelavich, associate professor in Parsons’ School of Art and Design History and Theory (ADHT), and Małgorzata Bakalarz Duverger, a PhD Sociology candidate at The New School for Social Research (NSSR), convened faculty from throughout the entire university, including Jilly Traganou, associate professor of spatial studies at ADHT PROJECT OVERVIEW This past March, anthropologists, linguists, sociologists, activists, and design practitioners from around the world gathered at The New School to share research on material responses to communal traumas. Topics ranged from migration spurred by climate change and political unrest to abandoned prisons and sites of colonization. Connecting the research was the role built environments play in healing, sheltering, commemorating, and resisting oppression and turmoil. The program demonstrated the power of place making to foster human resilience. Jilly Traganou presented “Practices of Prefigurative Habitus: Creating Radical Home/Lands at the Standing Rock Protest Camps,”

a material culture analysis of objects in the settlement established in 2016 by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to block the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ progress on the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) initiative. Traganou focused on the ways Standing Rock’s collective housing reinforced the cultural values that united indigenous peoples inhabiting a stretch of land along the planned pipeline route. She inventoried objects that were needed for daily life and sustained cultural practice in the camp.1 The images support Traganou’s thesis involving “prefigurative” politics—alternative social units and public commons that embody critique of existing political paradigms and offer lived examples of what could be. “I see these camps as the product of a designer’s intelligence, even if designers—as we usually think of them—are absent,” says Traganou. She describes the settlement as a reclaimed space and a camp designed to protest varied oppressions, situating it in a historical chain of communities from the Black Panthers’ free breakfast gatherings to the Occupy movement. Accordingly, she considers such sites as transcending singular agendas to encompass a “non-statist” position of critique, in which activists—and the design theorists promoting their ideas— have a hand in developing resilient communities through literal and symbolic action. Images of the Standing Rock encampment disseminated in popular media are shown at right.


JT: Jilly Traganou’s investigation into the Standing Rock settlements (Case Study 2), presented at the “Making Home in Wounded Places” symposium at the university, speaks directly to the extension of rights. Her research sheds light on a form of collective cultural resilience to forces attempting to extend human rights over what many regard as an unownable resource in the first place— land—and privileging the rights of a majority culture over those of non-majority, indigenous peoples. This resistance movement emerges partly from a view of the natural ecosystem in which humans are one element among many. The environmental threat posed by burying fuel lines on another’s homeland and water supply may be better understood by those who have maintained a more expansive sense of time and dissenting views of “rights.” re:D: You mentioned designers’ potential role in addressing the negative consequences of a short-sighted perspective. Can you say more about that? JT: When I referred to overconsumption, I was framing a challenge to makers in general: Can we cultivate resilience by creating things that people want to keep, repair, and adapt for different uses over time? Yes, designing long-lasting objects that take into account the ways production, use, and disassembly affect people or animals or ecosystems beyond the user is complex. And opportunities to design with extended timelines are limited—you have to complete a project for class; the client wants their house finished; the thing needs to be produced. But the act of completing something forecloses other possibilities; something is

always lost when you make a decision. So if we can think of designs and artifacts as temporary solutions to a set of conditions, knowing full well that solutions will have to be reevaluated later according to changing conditions, then we’ve arrived at a different way of approaching design, one that is more resilient through an awareness of the far-reaching impact of our choices. Resilience involves a degree of ambiguity; it is part of living in the flow of change, adapting to change and understanding its cycles. But it’s not something people are often comfortable with. re:D: You’re inviting designers to reimagine some of the long-held assumptions of their field and consider a range of systems at the same time. It’s an ambitious challenge. JT: But these projects demonstrate that we are up to the task: Our community has not become paralyzed by the enormity of the questions being asked—or convinced of the singularity of their solutions. Steps to Citizenship, part of the DESIS Lab’s Designing for Financial Empowerment collaboration (Case Study 3, p. 20), reflects this understanding deeply. The very fact that a project focusing on citizenship dovetails with an initiative dealing with financial resilience shows that students are turning from designing freestanding objects only to using design to find entry points into systems in need of change. By helping people become citizens, the project offers a pathway to equitable employment and financial stability as well as a voice in the political process. Current political conditions underscore how essential that access is to personal and even cultural resilience. But the students on the Steps to Citizenship team know that their efforts are aimed at much larger systems needing reform and are part of more comprehensive solutions. Here the concept of degrees of resilience is a useful way to think about working with complex systems.


re:D: The notion of extending rights to the resources of future generations is a succinct expression of the challenge facing us today.

re:D: A challenge of systems-based thinking is reckoning with the vast scale of the change that is sometimes needed. JT: Yes, but that fact shouldn’t stop the design from being put out into the world to be evaluated and tested and learned from. David Harvey5 uses a beautiful description in his books, quoting Roberto Unger, of the nature of revolutionary change and whether it should be understood as a radical break from the past or a shift like that of a rotating wheel. I prefer change as a subtle moving of history forward to different conditions in which the past is not forgotten but does not constrain others, or other solutions, in the future. A theory of change based in flow rather than a tabula rasa radical break feels very important to me. So a project like Designing for Financial Empowerment, by demonstrating the ability of designled process to integrate economic, governance, and community resilience systems, is a stride forward. re:D: You brought up imagination as a capacity that can be applied to the challenge of resilience. Angela Luna’s work embodies that dynamic and the process of evaluating solutions according to new conditions. JT: Angela’s work is as much about reimagining the fashion system as it is about creating innovative clothing

for the globally displaced. She recently retooled her firm, ADIFF (Case Study 4), to include outerwear appealing to young urbanites who have the resources, connections, and ethical orientation to support both her business model and her vision for change. But Angela doesn’t think her pieces are stopping the flow of refugees or resolving all of the dangers that they face. She’s making their lives a little bit better and safer while raising awareness of their situation in economic circles that can amplify her efforts. Angela’s actions reflect a flow of change resulting from her objective of accommodating both business and human resilience. She’s addressing two systems undergoing great change—fashion and migration—with imagination and resourcefulness. re:D: Your comment about taking into consideration two rapidly evolving systems, fashion and migration, raises the issue of balance within systems thinking. JT: It also introduces the central question of the Anthropocene, the age we’re in now: whether we have the capacity to make it a positive time. Mostly people tend to think of the Anthropocene (if they think of it at all) as the moment in which humanity destroys the planet. If you said, “What is the Anthropocene?” you’d expect one to answer, “Oh, it’s the last age.” The approaches I’m describing here challenge us to confront


Parsons re:D

CASE STUDY 3: DESIGNING FOR FINANCIAL EMPOWERMENT A watershed project pairing NYC government and corporate partners (the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs’ Office of Financial Empowerment, Citi Community Development, the Center for Economic Opportunity) with alumni operating in Parsons’ DESIS Lab, Designing for Financial Empowerment sparked initiatives aimed at bolstering communities’ political, economic, and cultural resilience including Steps to Citizenship PARSONS TEAM MFA Transdisciplinary Design students including Valentina Branada, Alix Gerber, and Chengcheng Teng, led by DESIS Lab principals and associate professors Eduardo Staszowski and Lara Penin and assistant professor Andrew Shea of Parsons’ School of Design Strategies (SDS) PROJECT OVERVIEW Immigration is central to American history and identity, yet today it is the subject of intense controversy in the United States. The path to citizenship has become newly difficult to comprehend and traverse, placing immigrant families particularly at risk. To protect and empower vulnerable immigrant communities, MFA Transdisciplinary Design students developed Steps to Citizenship, an informative card system designed to guide New York applicants through the citizenship process while introducing them to financial planning skills.1 Whereas materials on citizenship often present information in a convoluted, confusing

way, the Steps to Citizenship card kit divides the application process into three simple parts. By gamifying the process, the team made it easier for users—particularly non-native English speakers—to follow. The instructions are designed to encourage play through inspiring messages about the benefits of citizenship.2 Over the course of the game, applicants come across information about resources and services to address their needs.3 Steps to Citizenship—which helps make social services more accessible to underserved communities—was created in an MFA Transdisciplinary Design studio course taught by Lara Penin and developed further with DESIS team member Andrew Shea. It was one of several student collaborations in the Citizenship Project, part of the Designing for Financial Empowerment (DFE) program, a mayoral-private venture. Eduardo Staszowski, director of the lab and liaison to the external partners, cites the impressive student projects as a major reason the partnership between Parsons and the city government and corporate teams is continuing. “Students’ meticulously researched and executed work gave Citi Community Development the confidence to green-light more collaboration, proof of the value of design-led community engagement.” Cards that describe the steps an individual needs to take on the way to becoming a citizen are bundled together in an easy-touse deck (top). 2 Steps to Citizenship presents information in an engaging way, sequencing required steps in a game-like format (middle). 3 Nonprofit and government resources are detailed on cards in language that is easy for non–native English speakers to understand (bottom). 1

“Virtually all of the work coming from students today embodies a design-led way to make critical systems—such as those related to food production, housing, education, and clothing— resilient for future generations.” —Joel Towers

CASE STUDY 4: ADIFF ADIFF is a fashion collection with multipurpose pieces that appeal to outdoor enthusiasts but are also of use to refugees and homeless and displaced persons. Conceived by alumna Angela Luna, BFA Fashon Design ’16, ADIFF embodies resilience of several kinds, including business viability, while protecting human health, safety, and dignity PARSONS TEAM ADIFF founder Angela Luna, BFA Fashion Design ’16 PROJECT OVERVIEW Angela Luna has intervened in the fashion industry by establishing an apparel business that is raising awareness of a pressing crisis: populations displaced by phenomena ranging from war and climate change to homelessness. Luna’s attractive, multifunctional clothing line began as her thesis collection1 and has since expanded into an outerwear business for urbanites. Featuring coats that turn into tents,2 jackets, flotation devices, or sleeping bags, the ADIFF collection embodies an innovative mission to join humanitarianism with fashion. Luna began her fashion program intending to design couture evening wear and early on had an Abercrombie and Fitch post-graduation job lined up. But as she grew aware of the escalating refugee crisis in Syria, she felt she needed to address the issue by applying her skills in some way. Luna ended up prototyping a small line of convertible clothing that gradually became the ADIFF collection. Now the brand is growing steadily and seeking new opportunities to bring innovative designs to populations in need. Her company name stems from the phrase “to make a difference,” and for Luna, transformation should extend beyond her clothes to their wearers and also to the systems that underlie the fashion industry. As she expands her brand, Luna hopes to involve displaced persons in the design development3 and production process, providing jobs while recently moved ADIFF operations to Los Angeles, where she is developing pieces that appeal to younger consumers who can support her fledgling business. Luna is creating fashion that fosters resilience in business, for individuals, and within an industry. Her mission has resonated broadly, putting ADIFF on the radar of press covering fashion, industry disruption, and entrepreneurship. Luna has presented her collection to the United Nations Global Compact Leaders Summit and the UN Nexus Youth Summit and was recently featured in a Microsoft Windows 10 television ad. She was also included in last year’s Forbes 30 Under 30 list of innovators. Luna’s collection features clothing that converts into a range of goods— a tent, backpack, sleeping bag, and flotation device (top). 2 The coat shown above converts into the tent shown here (bottom). 3 Luna engaged displaced individuals in prototyping her line, interviewing them about their needs and refining design details on the basis of their input (middle). 1


improving ADIFF products through direct feedback. She

that scenario. In many ways, they’re meant to “decenter” humans as the only consideration in the framing and addressing of design problems—that is, to better balance the needs of all organisms in an ecosystem. Again, that process demands human behavior change and invites us as designers to learn from the environment. When we acknowledge how much there is to learn from natural systems, we’re more likely to respect them. For years, ecologists like Arne Naess6 have explored anthropocentric frameworks that essentially make this argument. re:D: The Dune Topology course (Case Study 5) discussed below was part of a disaster preparedness workshop (see page 11), and it brings us back to the human-environment relationship at the foundation of this article. How does this learning experience contribute to our understanding of resilience? JT: Working on-site near the ocean, it’s hard not to feel the smallness of your body in relation to the scale and scope of natural systems; that experience has special significance for architects and designers. The exercise drives home the complexity of finding the logic within natural systems while revealing that those systems sometimes function in unexpected ways. And then to try to design a relationship for that liminal zone between the water and coastal inhabitants or to contend with humanmade disturbances like terrorist attacks or power grid failures—which the class is also asked to design for—that feels like an apt metaphor for the design challenges put forth in the projects we’ve been discussing.

re:D: Before we end, can you share a little of your history with the field of sustainability and resilience, and particularly your role in developing related curricula at Parsons? JT: Around 1990, I was working with Bill McDonough7 and others on sustainability guidelines for the Hannover Expo 2000, which was promoted as the first green world’s fair. Out of that project came The Hannover Principles, a book outlining the broad impact of building and affirming the interdependence of people and the natural environment. Bill introduced it at the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992, the very first world gathering to address climate change, where the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was established. Later, in 2001, archaeologist and environmental scientist Sander van der Leeuw published “A Long-Term Perspective on Resilience in Socio-natural Systems,”8 a transformative essay on resilience that proposed a change model—a flow model for systems thinking and for ecosystem thinking— that felt much more like what we were trying to get at with the term sustainability. In his view, resilience provided a framework that accounted for time, change, and complexity in a way that sustainability struggled to accomplish. That was around the time I came to Parsons from Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture, collaborating with scientists at the Earth Institute and building research partnerships. My job talk was on resilience, and my charge was to introduce these concepts across Parsons’ curriculum, in collaboration with faculty throughout the university. That has included setting up the Tishman Environment



Parsons re:D

Master of Architecture students discover the challenges of designing for vulnerable coastal communities through on-site resilience modeling PARSONS TEAM Second-year Master of Architecture students from Parsons’ School of Constructed Environments (SCE), led by Jennifer Bolstad and Walter Meyer, founders of the urban design and ecosystems services consulting firm Local Office PROJECT OVERVIEW After researching resilient coastal topographies, second-year MArch students gathered on a windy beach to partake in what looked like a sand-castle-building contest.1 Jennifer Bolstad and Walter Meyer, a landscape architect and an urban designer who specialize in resilient and sustainable design,2 led the annual Dune Topology Workshop. Armed with a ten-by-ten-square-foot sand canvas, buckets, and shovels, students had one hour of low tide to construct model topologies that, they hoped, would resist the rising ocean.3 Once the hour elapsed, students congregated to watch the waves wreak havoc on their mini-cities. The last topology left standing was declared the winner. According to Bolstad, the exercise engages students with the natural environment, helping them grasp the powerful forces that are unleashed on built structures. While the workshop literally exposes students to the elements, Bolstad and Meyer also ask class participants to consider anthropogenic disturbances that

affect urban design. Part of the Earth Manual Project—a week-long intensive on disaster preparedness led by Hirokazu Nagata (see page 11)—this year’s Dune Topology Workshop was extended into a second design exercise that challenged students to design for topologies faced with disturbances such as economic crises, political instability, and terrorist attacks. Exposing young designers to the convergence of environmental and human disturbances on urban landscapes underscores the degree of complication involved in resilience. Through the Dune Topology Workshop and other exercises, Bolstad and Meyer hope to “shake loose the perspective of students who’ve been marching through the discipline of architecture,” opening them up to possibilities of reinvention and collaboration in their field. Bolstad and Meyer are well aware that design won’t solve every problem, but they believe that it can act as a forum in which different players can come together and foster resilience. “You can’t possibly solve such complex problems with one discipline,” Bolstad says. Resilience requires input from creatives, scientists, policymakers, and community builders alike, “but design and landscape architecture are uniquely equipped to lead that conversation.” Students in the Dune Topology Workshop construct coastal buildings of sand designed to withstand the rising tide (top). 2 Workshop students draw on Bolstad and Meyer’s extensive experience developing weather-resistant landscape design and architecture schemes such as the one shown here (bottom left). 3 A set of sand structures arrranged to divert water wait to be tested by high tide (bottom right). 1

“Our community has not become paralyzed by the enormity of the questions being asked—or convinced of the singularity of their solutions.” —Joel Towers

and Design Center and directing it, helping write the Environmental Studies degrees, and revamping how we educate students so that resilience becomes a way of approaching their work. In effect, we now evaluate the success or failure of their work in terms of whether they are increasing—or reducing—resilience, not whether they are solving a specific problem per se. To me, that is what design and culture and community are about: building places and systems that can persist in ways that make everyone’s lives happier and better.


including MoMA.org, Dezeen, Rizzoli, and Random House. He is the university’s director of marketing content.

 Published in 1987 by Oxford University Press. See also https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Brundtland_Report.

The Healthy Materials Lab was established at Parsons in 2015 by Alison Mears and others as a resource for co-developing affordable nontoxic building practices and fostering resilient communities across the socioeconomic spectrum.



 On view at Parsons as part of the exhibition In Human Time. See the cores at newschool.edu/red/ice; see newschool.edu/sjdc for exhibition details.  Data collected since 1958 by Charles Keeling, professor at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, has been used to document the increased concentration of atmospheric CO2.



 David Harvey is a radical geographer, anthropologist, and thought leader on urban development. See Spaces of Hope (Edinburgh University Press, 2000).


 Arne Naess, “The Shallow and the Deep, Long-Range Ecology Movement,” Inquiry 16 (1973): 95–100.

 William McDonough is an architect and pioneer of sustainable development. He served as the first chair of the World Economic Forum’s Meta-Council on the Circular Economy.



 Sander E. van der Leeuw and Christina Aschan-Leygonie, “A Long-Term Perspective on Resilience in Socio-natural Systems” (Working Papers of the Santa Fe Institute, No. 01-08-042, 2001).


John Haffner Layden has written about art and design for online and print platforms

Think of how many products pass through your hands within a single day. Toothbrush, wool sweater, smartphone, disposable coffee cup, MetroCard—you’ll notice how quickly the sum escalates into the hundreds or even thousands. Reflected in each of these objects are materials and processes that directly connect you to and affect the global environment, commerce, and culture. Throughout Parsons, designers are exploring this network of production and reimagining the supply chain to foster resilient businesses


Parsons re:D

and sustainable manufacturing. By Lilit Markosian

In Production:

says Chorpash. And that’s exactly what the university is

The last century saw profound changes in the way

doing, across its disciplines and with practitioners in fields

consumer goods were produced. On the one hand, local

ranging from product design to labor policy.

manufacturing scaled up into massive operations to feed extensive international markets. On the other hand, new

Embracing the Complexities of Making

technologies radically transformed labor and challenged

The border between the professional world and Parsons

traditional making models. Although some craftspeople

has always been permeable. As the making industries

were replaced by algorithms, technology made the

face complex challenges, the design school responds with

creation of goods more accessible, varied, and efficient.

a dynamic pedagogy designed to shape a generation

Meanwhile, a budding digital culture brought communities

of creatives who are aware of their accountability in the

around the world together, engendering shared tastes that

production process.

dictated new kinds of demand. Now, at the tail end of this transformation, compli-

“It’s not just about coming up with the perfect, most ethical design with the least environmental impact,”

cations have emerged in the supply chain—the series of

says Brendan McCarthy, MFA Fine Arts ’11, assistant

steps that turn an idea into a finished product. Besides

professor of fashion and director of the BFA Fashion Design

dealing with diminishing resources and climate change,

program’s Fashion Systems and Materiality pathway. “It’s

producers have to contend with automation, migrating

about understanding the complexity of the issues and the

labor pools, and myriad material and cultural dynamics.

questions one needs to ask to be a critical thinker as a

Even consumers are beginning to re-examine their buying

designer.” The call for this perspective could not be clearer.

habits. Within this changing context, it is clear that

“Producers are beginning to understand that responsibility

traditional supply chains are too inflexible to contend

is actually crucial to their business, which offers students

responsibly with the variables that affect production.

fantastic opportunities to stand up and push companies to

Rama Chorpash, director of the MFA Industrial Design

go even further,” adds Gyungju Chyon, assistant professor

(IDD) program at Parsons, says that “the term ‘supply chain’

of product and industrial design at Parsons’ School of

can be a misnomer, because it suggests a completely linear

Constructed Environments (SCE) and a designer with

process and limited context.” In order for businesses to thrive

extensive experience in global making.

in the unpredictability of the current moment, a more holistic

The MFA IDD program’s Global Production Studio offers

approach is needed. “Instead, we can look at it more like a

young designers a key opportunity to engage in thoughtful

network,” he continues, “in which every step—from concept

product development. Chyon, a faculty lead, explains that

to final product—involves a range of considerations, such as

the semester-long course challenges students to explore

sourcing, cradle-to-cradle manufacturing, and ethical labor.”

extended supply chains and propose designs to be imple-

The task of reframing the supply chain is not trivial.

mented across national boundaries and cultures. Regularly

While many businesses are beginning to engage with the

participating in external projects and even going abroad,

increasing complexity of production, bottom lines and the

students get to experience firsthand the changing demands

pressure to grow hamper their ability to lead change. A

of manufacturing and see how commercial brands tackle

university, however, has the intellectual and creative where-

complications in sourcing.

withal to explore alternatives. “At The New School, we have the opportunity to step back and look at the big picture,”

In fall 2017, the Global Production Studio class was invited to reimagine the “rituals of resting, gathering, and

ng the Supply Chain


Production Transformed

nourishing the body” through a chair design for Roche

technology in a business venture that empowered local

Bobois, a French luxury furniture company. The brief called

artisans. Using parametric techniques, Marks developed a

for full-scale prototypes that accommodate contemporary

catalog of bamboo-veneer shapes that could be combined

dining customs while embracing sustainability—in terms

to create different products. Individual pieces were cut by a

of both materials and product life cycle. To help students

machine but required craftspeople to “knit” them together

measure the environmental cost of their designs, Roche

by hand and devise new designs.

Bobois shared its in-house Eco8 accounting model.

making artisans co-creators in the manufacturing process,

Lab, which maintains a library of sustainable materials and

rather than assemblers in a large factory system. This kind

helps designers source projects responsibly (see re:D 2016,

of adaptive approach is just one example of how design can

page 15).

fuel ethical production. By exploring difficult intersections

After months of research and investigation of culturally

automation and craft, Parsons students develop making

that reflected the brand’s artisanal French manufacturing.

models that engage with the variables of the supply

The most successful projects also embodied a universalized

network and push for more considered business practices.

product typology that could appeal broadly to Roche

Most important, they then carry these unique experiences

Bobois’ international consumers. A versatile chair that

and methods with them into the professional world.

effective and sustainable. Rather than investing in numerous

Parsons re:D

The Designer’s Role, Evolved

molds and the tons of material needed to develop an

As the supply network undergoes radical change, designers

extensive product line, Roche Bobois can focus its resources

have the potential to play a major role in fostering sustain-

on one streamlined manufacturing process.

ability. After completing a program at Parsons, Jimmy K.W.

Producing both globally and sustainably is a difficult


like those of sustainability and large-scale manufacturing,

specific dining habits, the students presented prototypes

can easily be adapted to meet different tastes is both cost


Marks was able to bring craft and automation together,

Students also drew on The New School’s Healthy Materials

Chan, AAS Graphic Design ’00, established a fruitful career

balance to strike, calling for exactly the kind of nuanced

in fashion, forming retail partnerships with brands like

approach professors like Chorpash hope their students

Evisu and the Adidas-Yamamoto Y-3. “The success of these

will master. “The MFA IDD program sets up a lot of what

collaborations can be credited to the viability of small-scale,

appears to be polarities,” he says, “but candidates are

high-quality fashion,” Chan says. He argues that creative

challenged to take on at least one such dichotomy in their

freedom and ethical considerations are often sacrificed for

practice.” In order to develop a resilient supply network, the

large-scale production. Maintaining a low-yield, financially

making industries must learn to engage with a variety of

sustainable business in this context is not easy, yet Chan

considerations, however much they may conflict.

does so by closely managing production in his ventures and

While still a student in Global Production Studio, Parsons alumna Lisa Marks, MFA Industrial Design ’17, BFA

collaborating with innovative designers. Most recently, Chan took on the Shanghai-based luxury

Product Design ’03, tackled the dichotomy between craft

fashion brand MASHAMA. As the newly appointed acting

and automation. Her assignment was to travel to Thailand

CEO, he aims to emphasize the high quality of the product,

and reinterpret the value of bamboo, locally considered a

thus challenging the widespread view that goods produced

cheap and undesirable material. When Marks discovered

in China are cheap and high waste. When it comes to

that craft communities in the region were rapidly dying

creating enduring, sustainable fashion, Chan is pragmatic.

out, her solution was to harness automation and digital

He concedes that traditional supply chains are rigid and

“Producers are beginning to understand that responsibility is actually crucial to their business.”


—Gyungju Chyon

Professor Gyungju Chyon (top right) advises

Chi-Hao (left), students in the MFA Industrial

students in the Global Production Studio

Design program. The winning projects will

course. Lisa Marks’ Global Production

be prototyped for Roche Bobois’ spring 2018

Studio project—goods made in Thailand

internal sales meeting and potentially put

from “knitted” pieces of bamboo veneer

into retail production for the brand’s global

(top left)—will be launched soon, providing

collection. The collaboration was recently

employment to local artisans. The Cairn

featured in Architectural Digest magazine

Chair (far left), by Weiran (Winnie) Chen

(see newschool.edu/red/roche-bobois), and

and George Pilonis of the MFA Industrial

all the studio prototypes will be on display

Design program, shared first prize with the

at Roche Bobois’ midtown showroom during

Plus One extendable chair by Lorraine Chen

NYCxDESIGN month in May.

and Po Yuan Wang (pictured on inside front cover) of the BFA Product Design program in the Parsons-Roche Bobois joint studio competition. Taking second place was Asy, a design by Liujingzi Jiang and Lee

“We intend to build longevity into our product through a sense of timelessness that can resonate with the wearer for years to come.”


Parsons re:D

—Michael Freels

Michael Freels and Lauren Rodriguez (above) pose in the Manhattan studio where they create collections for LOROD. The pair met while pursuing BFA degrees at Parsons. “We were told on our first day of foundation year to look around the room, that these were the people we would collaborate with one day,” says Rodriguez. “Michael and I met that day, and whenever possible, we bring on friends and peers from Parsons to join us.” Also shown are prototypes from their forthcoming collection (left).

“If design is about creating the world in which we live, then we had better be discussing what kind of world we want to have.” —Rama Chorpash

argues that to combat unethical practices, designers have

to grow organically, “at a reasonable pace,” in order to

to be inventive and flexible. “For the time being, the best

maintain integrity in terms of product and approach.

thing any designer can do is to rethink the creative process,”

“Fashion is often a reflection of an ingrained attitude or a

he says. By introducing change in the ideation phase of the

cultural moment,” notes Freels. LOROD’s ethically conscious

supply chain and fighting for business models involving

and sustainable model may still be an anomaly in the

greater oversight of small production runs, designers can

industry, but there is a good chance that it represents a real

lead the way to resilient industry practices.

shift in the culture of production.

An excellent example of such a model is LOROD, the Michael Freels and Lauren Rodriguez, BFA Fine Arts ’15.

Reimagining Supply and Demand

Since its founding two years ago, LOROD has blossomed

As Parsons graduates go out into the world and break new

into a brand that is regularly featured in the pages of

ground, it becomes clear that the role of the designer has

Vogue and worn by supermodels like Gigi Hadid. The label’s

evolved. What was once a job centered on making skills and

success is even more remarkable considering the degree of

visual proficiency has expanded to require competency in

integrity the designers have maintained within an industry

and awareness of the complexities of production.

known for its complex relationship with ethical production. Headquartered in a sunlit townhouse in Manhattan’s

In this early phase of the reimagination of the supply chain, Parsons students, faculty, and alumni demonstrate

East Village, LOROD works only with factories in New

that there are many different ways to align produc-

York’s Garment District. This hikes price points but allows

tion with the complicated needs of an interconnected,

the young designers to monitor the manufacturing process.

technology-driven world. The MFA IDD program’s Global

“We are able to hop on a train and oversee the making

Production Studio course tackles the challenges of waste

of a sample or bulk production run,” explains Freels. “It’s

and sustainability by developing products that endure and

challenging to develop and produce in the United States,”

have universal appeal. Alumni like Lisa Marks are rethinking

adds Rodriguez, “but gratifying, because we can ensure

the role of technology in craft communities, finding ways

our makers earn fair wages.” That the artisans who sew

to reduce the impact of globalized automation. And in the

their clothes and run the textile mills from which LOROD

commercial realm, entrepreneurs like Jimmy K.W. Chan

sources materials are treated fairly is a point of pride for

and Rodriguez and Freels are introducing values-based

the designers. This is particularly significant because these

approaches into fashion, transforming what is one of the

makers represent the tradition of American workwear that

most heavily polluting industries in the world.

the label strongly conveys through its denim-heavy apparel. Unlike most fashion brands, which produce new collec-

As makers and buyers, we are uniquely empowered to examine our roles within the production landscape and, in

tions every few months, LOROD shows only twice a year,

doing so, to find ways to reinvent it. “Design in some ways is

in the pre-season. “Pre-collections are a quiet and unique

like movie making,” reflects Chorpash. “The impact of creating

time for young brands to carve out a space for themselves

something changes culture, and there is the possibility of

that isn’t oversaturated with shows and events,” says

shifting what people find desirable.” By influencing not only

Rodriguez. This slow-growth, limited-release model allows

what is made but how it is made, designers can alter the

the designers to dedicate ample time to each collection,

values that underlie manufacturing and consumption. At

ensuring the high-quality construction for which they are

Parsons, this critical inquiry is constantly evolving. “If design

becoming known. Instead of relying on the ephemeral

is about creating the world in which we live, then we had

appeal of trends—which spur consumption seasonally—

better be discussing what kind of world we want to have,”

LOROD creates collections that together form a coordinated

says Chorpash. “That’s a fundamental question, and the

and enduring wardrobe. “We intend to build longevity

presence of that discussion is a strength of The New School.”

into our product through a sense of timelessness that can resonate with the wearer for years to come,” says Freels. To combat wastefulness, Freels and Rodriguez are

Lilit Markosian writes about the effects of new technologies—such as VR,

careful about overproducing and never exceed their orders.

IoT, and AI—on culture and community. She is currently pursuing a degree in

Visitors to their studio—a surprisingly sparse, uncluttered

nonfiction creative writing.

atelier—find just a few racks with the latest collection on display. When asked if LOROD plans to scale up its operations, Freels and Rodriguez say that they want the business


fashion label started by BFA Fashion Design alumnus

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79 Fifth Avenue, 17th floor, New York, NY 10003 alumni@newschool.edu PARSONS (760-830) Volume 35, No. 1, May 2018 PARSONS is published four times a year, in May, July, December, and January, 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: Ayah Al Bitar (Portfolio); Courtesy of

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re:WIND Iconic work from Parsons’ archives (1977)


Hinda Miller, BFA ’71 Environmental Design Above is a 1979 advertisement from Runner’s World magazine; its tagline affirms the value of women designers.

Forty years ago, a new ready-to-wear design transformed an

and moved seams to the outside of the bra to avoid chafing

industry and empowered women in ways never before achieved.

sensitive areas. The company the three women founded to

Parsons alumna Hinda Miller (then Hinda Schreiber), Lisa Lindahl,

produce Jogbra became a model of female entrepreneurship

and Polly Palmer-Smith invented Jogbra, the first women’s sports

during the era of “by women, for women.” As a product, Jogbra

bra. Before 1977, active women made do with bras that lacked

embodied feminism and the upending of gender stereotypes. The

special support features yet were marketed as sports varieties.

original prototypes are now housed in the Smithsonian Institution

Designed by men, they caused skin abrasions and significant

and The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute.

strain on breast tissue. Miller’s daily runs reminded her that something had to change. “We were running and holding our

Miller remained the president of Jogbra Inc. until 1990, when

breasts or wrapping ourselves with elastic bandages,” she says.

the company was sold to Playtex Apparel. The sale freed

“A product was waiting to be born.”

Miller to parlay her passion for women’s rights into politics; she subsequently served as a Vermont state senator for ten

Miller and her partners based their design on a pair of men’s

years. Today she coaches, consults with, and invests in social

athletic supporters. They chose material that was soft and

entrepreneurs and is launching a new brand, Sultanas.biz.

absorbent yet elastic, to provide firm support; removed hardware;

A style commemorating Jogbra’s 40th anniversary is featured in a 2017 advertisement, whose tagline alludes to the product’s origins and role as a symbol of women’s empowerment.

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Arta Ajeti, BFA Illustration ’17, illustrator of this cover of Regarding Design, painted the image of the earth’s landmasses and oceans and then cut it apart to suggest the dramatic potential of interacting global phenomena to strain system resilience. She then added the hands and lines digitally to represent various systemic forces— such as migration, economics, and ecosystems— with their ripple effects, which we as a human population set in motion and must contend with. Designer Carmen McLeod, AAS Graphic Design ’15, then adjusted the palette to bring the composition into a unified whole.


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