Parsons Celebrates Parsons Pa rsons Celebrates The School’s Centennial Centennial The T he New School’s and 50 Years Years of and 50 Yea rs of OUR SHARED HISTORY OUR OUR SHARED SHA RED HISTORY HI STORY
Regarding Design (re:D)
1 NEWS A recap of the Parsons community’s recent activities
7, 28 PROFILES eaturing Parsons alumni representing a range of F years and disciplines: graphic designer Paul Rand; integrated designers Nina Schwarz and Su Beyazit; interactive and brand designers Alex Levin and Ryan Riegner; fashion designer Willi Smith; product designer Hlynur Atlason; design researcher and textile, advertising, and product designer Sara Little Turnbull; author-illustrators Leo and Diane Dillon; design writer and archivist Levi Higgs; artist Luma Jasim; and photographer Steven Meisel
CREATIVE CONFLUENCE: Tracing the Shared History of Parsons and The New School A graphic feature tracing the individual and shared histories of The New School and Parsons School of Design from their origins to today
A LEGACY OF DESIGN EXCELLENCE A selection of celebrated Parsons alumni drawn from throughout the school’s history
DESIGNING DATA In the wake of Netflix’s recent release of The Great Hack, re:D presents a conversation between professors David Carroll ’00 and Aaron Hill and alumna Ellie Frymire ’19, who discuss the ways the Parsons community is contending with our data-driven future
BETTER TOGETHER Featuring the 1970 press release announcing the Parsons-New School merger
RE:WIND J oseph Marcella, Environmental Design ’70
EXTENDING THE REACH OF REGARDING DESIGN Parsons fosters a worldwide community united by the desire to make the world better through design-led problem solving. Our curricula, external partnerships, and competitions and exhibitions are all tailored to help young artists and designers go out into the world and contribute through environmentally sustainable and socially conscious practice. To share these achievements more broadly and invite new partners into our fold, we’re reenvisioning re:D’s contents and distributing it to a selection of creative leaders. If you’re seeing re:D for the first time, we invite you to learn more about our network and reach out to explore ways to collaborate with our changemakers to advance your creative vision. Below are contact emails for our Corporate Partnerships, Alumni, and Student Success offices. newschool.edu/red/corporate-partners newschool.edu/red/alumni newschool.edu/red/employers
OUR SHARED HISTORIES: THE NEW SCHOOL CENTENNIAL ISSUE This issue, a celebration of The New School’s centennial, is an opportunity to explore the shared histories of Parsons and The New School and the groundbreaking curricula and creativity that have emerged. Alumni featured throughout the magazine exemplify our legacy of creative problem solving that carries our shared mission forward into an evolving world and future.
100 YEARS NEW
The New School is celebrating a century of promoting academic freedom, tolerance, and progressive intellectual exchange by opening its doors to the public for an anniversary celebration. The Festival of New will include performances, talks, and exhibitions showcasing The New School’s celebrated community of alumni, faculty, staff, and students. All festival programming—ranging from live thinkers and leaders—is free and open to the public. Speakers and artists include Cotton Series choreographer and dancer Havanna Fisher, BA The Arts/BFA Fashion
music in Union Square Park to discussions with diverse
and director of MFA Fashion Design and Society; Andrea Geyer, associate professor of new genres; Camilo Godoy, BA Education Studies/BFA Photography ’16; Paul Goldberger, Joseph Urban Professor of Design; associate professor of media design Colleen Macklin, MA International Affairs ’13; Morgan Saint, BFA Illustration ’16; John Sharp, associate professor of games and learning; fashion designer Anna Sui, BFA Fashion Design; and Otto von Busch, associate professor of integrated design; and Fern Mallis, Derek Lam, BFA Fashion Design ’90 and Emily Adams Bode, BA Philosophy/BFA Fashion Design ’13, will discuss approaches to fashion across generations and how designers turn their inspirations into apparel. To register for the festival and create a custom schedule, visit the website below. newschool.edu/festival-of-new
Design ’14; Shelley Fox, Donna Karan Professor of Fashion
2 PARSONS’ NEW EXECUTIVE DEAN
In 2019, Parsons alumni figured prominently
Dr. Rachel Schreiber recently joined Parsons
on Forbes’ prestigious 30 Under 30 list: Emily
as executive dean, a role in which she is
Adams Bode, BA Philosophy/BFA Fashion
advancing Parsons’ strategic vision, reputation,
Design ’13, founder of menswear brand Bode;
and efforts to integrate design education into
Alfonso Javier Cobo Albusac, MS Strategic
curricula throughout The New School. Joel
Design and Management ’18, a founder of
Towers served for a decade in the role and is
Unfold, an app that allows its nine million users
now advancing The New School’s research
to create polished design-driven Instagram
on and teaching about climate change and
stories with minimal templates; Alex Levin,
healthy environments as a University Professor.
BBA Strategic Design and Management ’11,
Says Schreiber, “It is my great privilege to
a founder (with Ryan Riegner, BFA
join the Parsons community as executive
Communication Design ’11) and the director
dean. With every passing day, I am more
of strategy of L+R, an international design
inspired by the meaningful impact Parsons
and technology agency whose clients include
has already made on the world, and together,
Amazon and Louis Vuitton (see page 9); Cecile
I look forward to building on its already stellar
McLorin Salvant, a former student who has
record and reputation to reach new heights
made her mark as a singer, composer, and
of academic excellence.” Schreiber comes to
visual artist; Fabian Raphael Rastorfer, BFA
Parsons following a distinguished tenure at
Design and Technology ’14, the founder of
the San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI), where
Fabraz, a game studio that released a platform
she served as provost and senior vice president
called Slime-san in 2017; Kim Shui, AAS Fashion
and, in 2016, as interim president. She holds
Design ’13, a womenswear designer whose
a PhD from Johns Hopkins University, an
clients include Kylie Jenner, Solange Knowles,
MFA in Photography and Critical Writing from
and Cardi B; and Sarah Staudinger, a former
California Institute of the Arts, and a BFA in
Eugene Lang College student and fashion
Graphic Design from Rhode Island School of
designer who launched the womenswear brand
Design. “Rachel’s extensive background as an
STAUD and whose dresses and bags have
artist, designer, and educator and research
proved popular with celebrities like Claire Danes
expertise in gender and labor history ideally
and Zoe Saldana.
position her to guide Parsons,” says New School Provost Tim Marshall. “We are delighted to welcome her to the university community.” newschool.edu/red/schreiber
THIRTY UNDER THIRTY
the emotional intelligence that fosters success;
Undocumented: A Worker’s Fight, by Duncan
Every year, alumni, faculty, and guests reunite
on a range of subjects. In Baseball Parks and
Tonatiuh, BA Liberal Arts/BFA Integrated
on campus to celebrate Parsons and its
the American City, Joseph Urban Professor of
Design ’08, the story of an immigrant who
creative legacy with receptions, tours, and talks.
Design Paul Goldberger examines American
stands up for himself and his community;
During the 2018 reunion, which took place in
ballparks and their place in the city landscape,
and Twentieth-Century Boy: Notebooks of the
late October last year, attendees toured the
exploring the changing architecture of baseball
Seventies, by Duncan Hannah, BFA Fine Arts ’75,
University Center and the Making Center and
stadiums as a reflection of urban development
an artist’s coming-of-age story set in NYC.
took part in a virtual reality workshop led by
and cultural shifts. Associate professor of illustration Nora Krug’s graphic novel Belonging:
Maya Georgieva, director of Digital Learning at The New School’s XReality Center, and
A German Reckons with History and Home
The 71st Parsons Benefit honored a host of
Parsons faculty member Niberca Polo, MA
delves into her family’s past and depicts her
visionary figures in fashion, technology, and
Media Studies ’11, MA Design Studies ’14. In the
struggle to come to terms with her native
the arts, all of whom embody the university’s
afternoon, alumni attended a panel discussion
country’s tragic history. Belonging won the
commitment to creativity, innovation, and
with then Executive Dean Joel Towers and Reed
National Book Critics Circle Award and was
sustainability. This year’s honorees were
Krakoff, AAS Fashion Design ’89, chief artistic
named a New York Times Best Book of the
Katrina Lake, founder and CEO of Stitch Fix,
officer at Tiffany & Co. After an introduction
Year. John Sharp, associate professor of games
who received the Parsons Table Award; Michael
by Parsons Board of Governors Chair Kay
and learning, and Colleen Macklin, associate
Preysman, founder and CEO of Everlane, who
Unger, Fashion Design ’68, Krakoff discussed
professor of media design, published Iterate:
received the Frank Alvah Parsons Award; the
his work with one of the most iconic American
Ten Lessons on Design and Failure, a book
acclaimed singer, songwriter, artist, and designer
brands, touching on everything from marketing
discussing the notion that rather than being
Pharrell Williams; and Julia Wainwright,
and design to the luxury industry and the
a source of embarrassment, failure is a crucial
founder and CEO of The RealReal. “My greatest
significance of robin’s-egg blue. Alumni then
part of the creative process. In Thinking Design
wish is to see students and everyone in this
enjoyed a reception at the closing of Primal
Through Literature, associate professor of
room keep dreaming and creating… to open
Machines, a Parsons alumni exhibition. Curated
design studies Susan Yelavich presents fiction,
your mind to every idea, to open your work
by Colette Robbins, MFA Fine Arts ’07, the
nonfiction, and poetry that attest to the social
to everyone” said Williams. The star-studded
exhibition featured alumni work exploring the
function of objects ranging from skyscrapers
evening included a jazzy performance of
psychology and effects of our experiences as
to ceramics to robots and places including
Williams’ hit “Happy” by Latin Grammy
digital natives and consumers. Many thanks
domestic spaces, parks, and urban centers.
winner Linda Briceño, MFA Jazz ’18, MA Arts
go out to the forward-thinking creatives of the
Books recently published by alumni include
Management and Entrepreneurship ’19, and an
reunion organizing committee, who work year-
No Hard Feelings: Emotions at Work, by Mollie
auction led by Lydia Fenet, managing director
round to produce this event.
West Duffy, MFA Transdisciplinary Design ’15,
of Christie’s. The 2019 Parsons Benefit raised
which provides practical tools for developing
$3.6 million for scholarships. parsonsbenefit.newschool.edu
PARSONS IN PRINT
This year, Parsons faculty published books
In the past year, the Parsons community took
from the global company Sappi: assistant
home a number of honors. Caroline Hu, MFA
professors Andrew Shea and John Roach were
Fashion Design and Society ’17, won an inaugural
awarded for their educational toolkit, Sound
Business of Fashion China Prize of $100,000.
the Mound; Abby Chen and Flora Chan, BFA
Mijia Zhang, Fashion Design ’14, was a BoF
Communication Design ’14, received an award
China finalist. Christopher Kitterman, professor
for It’s Not Just Personal, a poster distribution
of interior design, received a 2019 AIANY
campaign for survivors of sexual violence; and
Design Merit Award in the Interiors category.
faculty member Marcos Chavez and Sage
The film adaption of Crazy Rich Asians, a
Smith, BFA Communication Design ’18, were
bestselling novel by BFA photography student
awarded for Read to Me!, a book and learning
Kevin Kwan, was nominated for two Golden
tablet that builds school readiness skills. Emily
Globe Awards. Lisa Marks, BFA Industrial and
Adams Bode, BA Philosophy/BFA Fashion
Product Design ’03, MFA Industrial and Product
Design ’13, and Spencer Phipps, BFA Fashion
Design ’17, won the 2019 Lexus Design
Design ’08, were finalists for the 2019 LVMH
Award Grand Prix for Algorithmic Lace, a design
Prize for Young Fashion Designers.
method used to create bras for people who have undergone mastectomies. Fast Company named Irem Yildiz, MA Design Studies ’18, a finalist in its World Changing Ideas competition’s Student category. In February, the first Parsons team to participate in the 2019 Rotman Design Challenge at the University of Toronto received $10,000 for their project, STRUCT. The team consisted of second-year Strategic Design Management students including Silky Kadakia, Vinay Kumar Mysore, Shishir Raut, Maria Di Paolo, Sundar Subramanian, and Victor Michud. In 2018, several Parsons faculty members and alumni received grants
PARSONS STREET TAKEOVER
A leader of innovative design education, Parsons
In May, the Parsons community came together
Art’s extensive digital art collection, assistant
continually develops new offerings for its
to support graduating students’ creative
professor of data visualization Richard The
students, who will go on to shape their fields.
achievements during the Parsons Festival, part
organized a research collaboration between
This fall marked the launch of two new
of NYCxDESIGN, New York City’s annual design
the world-renowned art institution and his MS
programs. Students in BFA Design History and
celebration. Attendees of the festival engaged
Data Visualization students. Using modern
Practice, directed by Margot Bouman, engage
with student work through events, exhibitions,
Web technologies and machine learning, the
with art and design through text-based and
interactive installations, performances, and
students investigated topics ranging from
material analysis in interdisciplinary studio and
more. One of the week’s highlights was a
gender equality in contemporary art to artists’
seminar study pathways. Drawing on curricula
runway show that took place along West 13th
lives and the classification of objects. Part of
from both Eugene Lang College and other
Street and Fifth Avenue and featured more
the students’ assignment was to present their
programs at Parsons, the new BFA integrates
than 250 unique looks by BFA Fashion Design
findings in aesthetically compelling ways that
design practice with the study of history and
graduates. The festival also saw the relaunch of
would enable viewers to access and explore
theory in innovative ways. A senior capstone
the Street Seats collaboration, in which students
information easily. Among the projects was
project and a third-year optional professional
in the School of Constructed Environments
a study by Emily Chu ’19 of images from the
development practicum enable students to
take over part of the curb along West 13th Street
Costume Institute. Using machine learning
focus their studies and prepare for careers in
and create a public seating area where the local
clustering methods, Chu sorted more than 7,000
emerging fields. The MPS Fashion Management
community can gather, socialize, and enjoy their
costume images and created a website that
degree is designed to help students transform
neighborhood. Members of the design press
allows users to follow the evolution of fashion
and advance their careers in an evolving fashion
covered thesis shows, including the pioneering
objects throughout history. Another student,
business landscape. To celebrate the launch
work of the year-old MFA Textiles program.
Ryan Best, tracked changes in the composition
of the new program—headed by Keanan
The exhibition provided an opportunity for
of The Met’s collection over time, focusing on
Duffty—Parsons held an inaugural panel
the Parsons community to view and discuss
ten countries of origin. According to Loic Tallon,
discussion series during New York Fashion
student work and learn more about this growing
chief digital officer at The Met, this Parsons
Week in February, 2019. Among the esteemed
collaboration will encourage museum visitors
guest panelists were leaders in the fashion and
and students to engage with the digital archives
retail industries including: MPS faculty member
and make new discoveries.
Christopher Lacy; Dylan Jones, Editor in Chief,
British GQ; Danielle Azoulay, Head of CSR & Sustainability, L’Oreal USA; Simone Cipriani, Head & Founder, Ethical Fashion Initiative; and Rebecca van Bergen, Founder, NEST. newschool.edu/red/bfa-design-history-practice newschool.edu/red/mps-fashion-management
Inspired by The Metropolitan Museum of
CAMPAIGN OF THE CENTURY
On view at the Sheila C. Johnson Design
For the first time in Parsons’ history, students
In honor of The New School’s Centennial, the
Center (SJDC) is In the Historical Present, an
created a float for the NYC Pride March.
university has launched the largest campus-
exhibition that is inspired by The New School’s
Designed by students in the class Queering
wide fundraising effort in its history. The New
Centennial and draws on the university’s
Space, the float was intended to “disrupt”
Century Campaign is designed to celebrate the
extensive art collection and archives. Through
an event that has become “complicit in
university’s legacy of defying convention and
commissioned artworks and artist-led
reinforcing typical normative structures,”
invest in the creative minds who will shape the
engagements and performances, the show
according to class instructors William Fryer,
future. The campaign began earlier this year
examines and interprets The New School’s
MFA Interior Design ’17, and Lena Kouvela,
with the goal of raising $250 million and has
relationship with its history and legacy. “In
MFA Interior Design ’17. During the parade,
since raised over $163 million through gifts
the manner of a paradox, In the Historical
students and New School volunteers took
from alumni, parents, friends, foundations, and
Present stages a call-and-response with the
part in a theatrical performance, using music,
corporations. The New Century Campaign will
school’s many pasts,” say exhibition curators
dance, movement, and design to tell stories
fund student scholarships and fellowships,
Macushla Robinson, MA Liberal Studies ’17,
about experiences that shaped their lives.
faculty support, research centers, and campus
and Anna Harsanyi, BA Liberal Arts ’08.
“A queer space is genuine, emotional, and
renovations and expansion. “We find ourselves
Another SJDC show this year was Speculative
ephemeral,” says Liam Pitts, BFA Product
reflecting on the entirety of our history,” says
Cultures: A Virtual Reality Exhibition, curated
Design ’19. “Our float is a performance of the
David E. Van Zandt, president of The New
by Tina Sauerlaender, Peggy Schoenegge,
queer spaces in our past that have shaped
School. “Securing our goal of $250 million will
and Erandy Vergara, which invited artists to
our individual identities. All of our stories
enable us to continue bringing valuable ideas
reflect on new forms of cultural expression in
transcend time and space to help us navigate
and solutions to a changing world.” To learn
the digital realm. In May, Doorknobs: Beyond
the new worlds we as queer people create and
more about the New Century Campaign—and
the Everyday, part of NYCxDESIGN 2019,
subvert those that seek to disregard us and
invest in a new kind of future—visit the website
opened at WantedDesign. Curated by MFA
diminish our voices.”
Industrial Design alumni Sarah Templin ’18 and
Gregory Beson ’18, the exhibition reimagined the doorknob from speculative and practical perspectives and featured the work of celebrated designers including Jasper Morrison, Bertille Laguet, and Karim Rashid and Parsons faculty members Tucker Viemeister, Allan Wexler, and Rama Chorpash, director of the MFA Industrial Design program. newschool.edu/sjdc
Paul Rand Idealist, Realist, Poet, Visionary
In his 50-year career, graphic designer Paul Rand ’39 helped reinvent the grammar of American design, bringing to advertising, layout, and logos a precise yet heartfelt kind of modernism that would influence generations of designers to come. “Simplicity is not the goal,” Rand said. “It is the by-product of a good idea and modest expectations.”
Born Peretz Rosenbaum in Brooklyn in 1914, Rand began his
design career painting signs for his family’s grocery store. Against his father’s wishes, he studied advertising design at Parsons, absorbing the modernist influences of Bauhaus visionary László Moholy-Nagy and German Sachplakat ads—which he soon transformed into a distinctly American look.
By his mid-20s, Rand had changed his name to avoid anti-
Semitism and had won renown for his inventive layouts and daring covers for the anti-fascist magazine Direction. He even earned the praise of his hero Moholy-Nagy, who hailed him as “an idealist and a realist, using the language of the poet and businessman.”
Rand is credited with bringing the aesthetic of and grid system
used in Swiss design to the United States in the postwar period. He taught at institutions including Yale while applying his avantgarde principles for a growing roster of major American companies, including IBM, ABC, and UPS. Rand was also known for his sense of whimsy, evident in his humorous, now iconic IBM rebus.
Although he died in 1996, Rand is still remembered as an artist,
theorist, and teacher—and one of the founding fathers of modernist American graphic design. newschool.edu/red/rand Left: Rand photographed in front of his poster design for the 1950 film No Way Out.
Below: Rand’s iconic rebus logotype for IBM (1981).
“Simplicity is not the goal.”
Nina Schwarz and Su Beyazit Transdisciplinary Creatives
“From the very beginning, we had a unified idea of aesthetic and of what kind of place it would be.” On a hot summer day, Nina Schwarz and Su Beyazit, BFA Integrated
After graduation, the pair pursued very different careers: Schwarz
Design ’10, are sipping ice coffees in the backyard of their Clinton Hill
went into the art world, working at two galleries, Gavin Brown’s
café and design store, Relationships. After one year in business, they
enterprise and Salon 94; Beyazit worked as a stylist before opening
take a moment to reflect on how they first met at Parsons and how,
a vintage store and salon called Su’juk. Eventually, the two decided
15 years later, their friendship turned into a creative partnership.
to open their own shop—a “multipurpose” store, says Beyazit; “a
“From the very beginning, we had a unified idea of aesthetic and of
holistic retail experience,” Schwarz adds.
what kind of place it would be,” says Schwarz. The space is bright
and airy, with a DIY faux-terrazzo bar and offbeat seating in primary
varied interests and experiences together in a single space. “We had
colors. Shelves and pedestals display vintage furniture and new
been buying things for four months and storing them in the basement,
home goods by local designers, many of whom are also Parsons
just hoping they would come together when we staged the space for
opening week,” says Beyazit. Luckily, the concept has been working:
This open-ended definition meant finding a way to bring their
After a year, both the shop and the friendship are thriving. relationshipsnyc.com Schwarz and Beyazit at Relationships, the café and art space
Alex Levin and Ryan Riegner Digital Pioneers
When Alex Levin, BBA Strategic Design and Management ’10, and Ryan Riegner, BFA Communication Design ’10, met at Parsons, they almost immediately began collaborating on a business venture, creating the Web design company Albino Rhino in their dorm room. The two got their first gig creating logos and a website for a tool company. “It was like 400 bucks,” Riegner jokes. “And our website was in Flash,” Levin adds.
Since then, Levin and Riegner’s business has matured into a full-
service digital consultancy with offices in Milan, Barcelona, Brooklyn, and Los Angeles. After graduation, they established a fashion brand, moonlighting to support the business by helping technology companies with their visual communication needs. Realizing that this work was more profitable, the pair decided to give up the fashion brand and focus full-time on digital consulting.
Today L+R’s array of services includes brand strategy, app
development, research and usability testing, and graphic design. The firm has built apps for Unilever, designed branding for Amazon, and created VR experiences for Louis Vuitton. Clients are drawn to L+R by its A-to-Z approach and extreme attention to detail. Levin believes that the firm’s success stems from combining these two qualities.
“When a designer wants to help a coder do their job better and the
developer is excited about that—that’s what we strive for on our team,” Levin says. “I found that same spirit of collaboration at Parsons.” levinriegner.com Below: The immersive in-store activation L+R created for Louis Vuitton combines virtual reality and mixed reality
Hlynur Atlason Design Investigator
“The Lína Swivel Chair embodies Hlynur’s ability to harmonize aesthetics, sustainability, and comfort in pieces you want to keep for years.” —J ohn McPhee, President, Design Wit hin Reach and Herman Miller Retail For industrial designer Hlynur Atlason ’01, finding a creative solution to a client’s needs is first and foremost about research. Conducting research allows a designer “to build a really solid picture, to then be able to design with confidence,” he explains. This approach extends far beyond customer demographics or intel on competitors; it involves observing and speaking with anyone who might touch the product his firm, ATLASON/studio, is designing.
Atlason didn’t set out to be a designer; he certainly
didn’t take such a methodical approach to life. Born in Reykjavik, Iceland, Atlason had a vague notion of designing cars or motorcycles but moved to Paris “to chase a girl.” He found his way to Parsons Paris and finished a BFA in industrial design at Parsons in New York, where he learned the hard way to always question first assumptions.
After spending a few years in branding, Atlason
returned to his true passion and opened a design studio in Soho in 2003. His output includes furniture for Design Within Reach and Ercol, home goods for the MoMA Design Store, packaging for Xbox and The Sill, and Billie, an ergonomic body razor for women. Diverse as they may seem, his projects all reflect Atlason’s deep
commitment to research.
Atlason developed the chair shown at left in
response to a call for compact contemporary seating put out by John McPhee, President of Design Within Reach and Herman Miller Retail. Of the result, McPhee says, “The Lína Swivel Chair embodies Hlynur’s ability to harmonize aesthetics, sustainability, and comfort in pieces you want to keep for years. His research-driven methodology offers promise for companies who want to stay at the front edge of sustainable practice.”
Atlason jokes that his native Iceland has a saying
for times when things aren’t coming together: “Þetta reddast,” “It will work out.” Judging from Atlason’s success, it certainly has. atlason.com Atlason poses in his versatile Lína Swivel Chair, created for Design Within Reach.
Willi Smith People’s Designer
“I don’t design clothes for the Queen, but for the people who wave at her as she goes by,” said fashion designer Willi Smith ’69. This credo animated Smith’s approach to his brand, WilliWear, which brought casual yet refined looks to millions of people around the world. At the time of his death, the New York Times described Smith as “one of the fashion industry’s most successful young designers, known for spirited and trendy clothes.”
Born in 1948 in Philadelphia, Smith came to Parsons on
scholarship but left before he could finish his degree. In 1976, he launched a new brand with a business partner, Laurie Mallet, focusing on informal ready-to-wear, slouchy but stylish staple garments that were an immediate hit with buyers. The brand was also regarded highly by fashion insiders, earning Smith an American Fashion Critics’ Coty Award and the Cutty Sark Men’s Fashion Award.
Haring and Jean-Claud. Smith’s career was cut short by his untimely death from an AIDS-related illness in 1987.
For those who wore his clothes, Smith’s brand represented
an exuberant yet accessible approach to fashion that welcomed customers of every race, gender, and sexual orientation.
“Willi was a great friend,” said classmate and Parsons Board of
Governors chair Kay Unger. “He had the most effusive personality and an energy that carried throughout his work. It was his desire to make clothing that people could afford and be comfortable in.” newschool.edu/red/smith Below: A model in ready-to-wear at a 1973 New York runway show; The wide availability of WilliWear sewing patterns
allowed Smith to exercise broad influence on American fashion.
“I don’t design clothes for the Queen, but for the people who wave at her as she goes by.”
On top of running his business, Smith frequently collaborated
with artists outside of the fashion world, designing T-shirts with Keith
Sara Little Turnbull Product Polymath
Born in New York City in 1917, Sara Little Turnbull ’39 was an influential graphic designer, photographer, editor, and industrial designer. Described by MoMA senior curator Paola Antonelli as “a daring trailblazer,” Turnbull designed interiors, furniture, housewares, design layouts, and textiles; worked in food product and materials development; and helped create medical devices, toys, and space suits. A pioneering woman in a field dominated by men, Turnbull touched the lives of Americans in countless ways, bringing a uniquely research-driven, optimistic approach to the design of everyday life. Turnbull attended Parsons on scholarship, studying advertising design and having Paul Rand as a classmate. She took her first job at Marshall Fields as a designer and assistant art director. In 1941, she joined House Beautiful magazine, eventually becoming the decorating editor. In 1958, she created Sara Little Design Consultant, an industrial design and market research firm whose clients included Corning, 3M, General Mills, Revlon, Campbell’s Soup, Neiman Marcus, Ford, Macy’s, and Coca-Cola. Turnbull came to be known as “corporate America’s secret weapon.” An accomplished practitioner, Turnbull was also a dedicated teacher and sat on Parsons’ Board of Trustees. In 1988, she opened the Process of Change: Laboratory for Innovation and Design, a studio and archive housed in the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Turnbull died in 2015, leaving behind the Sara Little Turnbull Foundation, which supports the Parsons Scholars program and is dedicated to helping underrepresented youth and women advance in design, and the Sara Little Turnbull Center for Design Institute, whose mission to educate the public about design draws on Turnbull’s rich collection of research artifacts. saralittlefoundation.org centerfordesign.net Turnbull shown with objects suited to casual contemporary lifestyle: a table she designed for McGuire and tableware for
© 2019 Center for Design Institute
Corning Pyrex’s Terra line.
Creative Confluence Tracing the shared history of Parsons and The New School by Jenny Swadosh and John Haffner Layden Today, as the university celebrates its centennial, re:D looks back at the histories of Parsons School of Design and The New School and finds common themes and complementary but distinct identities. In the half century since Parsons joined The New School, global shifts have strengthened the bond between the two celebrated institutions, transforming their educational
The union between Parsons and The New School may seem like an
skills taught at Parsons useful tools for elevating messages, sharing
unlikely one, given the schools’ distinct origins, offerings, and their
insights, and stirring people to action. Similarly, as design has
original locations—Parsons ensconced uptown and The New School
assumed a more prominent role in business, industry, and daily
in what is now Chelsea. But both were founded by individuals fiercely
life, the resources offered by sociologists, anthropologists, and
committed to freedom of thought and expression, engaged with
economists have made design more effective in those sectors. By
the world beyond our national borders, and fearless in embracing
strengthening each other in these ways, Parsons and The New
School have been preparing young changemakers for the challenges
Connecting the schools’ histories are principles that guided both schools’ founders. William Merritt Chase broke away from
of the 21st century and beyond. On the following pages, you will find a timeline tracing the
the Art Students League to create a school where artists could
course of the two schools’ development and reflecting their shared
experiment free from pressure to adopt the styles, themes, and
mission to educate inclusively, solve problems creatively, and
techniques of European academic art. Similarly, progressive
champion justice broadly and boldly. All of the spreads include
scholars including James Harvey Robinson, Charles Beard, and
a note providing historical context to frame the campus events
Thorstein Veblen set out to found a school that would foster the
presented in the images and captions. Together they document the
free exchange of ideas, experimentation, and the informed citizenry
ways Parsons and the rest of The New School have integrated over
needed for a robust democracy. Over time, each school won renown
time, becoming better together and amplifying the impact of our
for its curriculum, its critical contributions to its home city, and the
influence of the students who passed through its doors and went on to change the world. After Parsons joined The New School in 1970, the two institutions began to influence each other in unexpected ways. In a world that is increasingly digital, image driven, and beset by complex problems, social scientists and people working in the humanities have found the visual storytelling and design thinking
Jenny Swadosh joined the New School Archives and Special Collections in 2009. She collaborates with Parsons faculty to develop experiential learning opportunities in the archives. John Haffner Layden writes about art and design for platforms including MOMA.org, Dezeen, Rizzoli, and Random House. He is The New School’s director of marketing content.
offerings and making their graduates uniquely relevant.
LAUNCH OF PROGRAMS & SCHOOLS 1896–1901
• Fine Art (drawing, painting, composition) (1896)
• Fashion Design (then called Costume Design)
By 1913, Parsons has begun offering
• Design (decorative and applied) (1896)
• Graphic Design (then called Advertising)
classes in textile design. The school
• Illustration (1898)
• Interior Design (then called Interior Decoration)
then introduces courses for teachers,
• Architecture (1901)
These curricula are the first formal study
young people, and World War I
programs of their kind in the world.
servicemen (1918) as well as summer sessions (1919).
The Chase School moves
The Chase School
to 57 West 57th Street.
becomes the New York 1909
School of Art.
The New York School of Art becomes the New
York School of
A New Leader: Educator Frank Alvah Parsons,
Fine and Applied
hired by Chase in 1904, is named director
of the NYSFAA. Parsons champions the
York School of Art has moved to 2239 Broadway.
ORIGINS OF PARSONS
New York School of Fine and Applied Arts, c. 1933
1896 William Merritt Chase establishes the Chase School, intended to foster self-expression and experimentation. Open enrollment courses, offered year ’round, include drawing, painting, Costume design for student production of The Diplomat, 1920
composition, illustration, architecture, and design.
1896–1950 Challenging the Status Quo: Parsons and The New School are founded in response to the tradition-bound educational institutions of the early 20th century. Parsons is established during New York’s Gilded Age by William Merritt Chase, an artist dissatisfied with traditional art training. By 1950, educator Frank Alvah Parsons and his successors will have remade the school, encouraging designers to engage with an industrializing world and apply design in new ways to meet its demands. The New School for Social Research is founded in the aftermath of World War I with the goal of nurturing a more democratic and equitable society through adult education. “This is the hour for the experiment,” declares a New School pamphlet from 1918, citing New York City as an ideal campus “because it is the greatest social science laboratory in the world.”
THE FOUNDING OF THE NEW SCHOOL
Tuition for nine months: $55.
—Frank Alvah Parsons (c. 1920)
By 1906, the New
“Art is not for the few, for the talented, for the genius, for the rich, nor the church... Industry is the nation’s life, art is the quality of beauty in expression, and industrial art is the cornerstone of our national art.”
democratization of design education. 1906
The New School for Social Research is founded by James Harvey Robinson, Charles Beard, and others, several of whom resigned from Columbia University to protest the university’s censure of criticism of U.S. involvement in World War I. Influenced by the ideas of John Dewey, they envision an educational system with an open curriculum, minimal hierarchy, and free discussion of controversial ideas. Housed in rented brownstones at 465–469 West 23rd Street, the school opens with 200 students taking in lectures and seminars in the social sciences.
• Parsons partners with NYU to offer Bachelor of Science degrees. • The Paris Ateliers reopen after the war.
Empire chair rendering by Interior Design student Ina Dell Marvin, in Paris, c. 1930
Prominent womenswear designer
The NYSFAA moves
Norman Norell serves as a visiting critic
to 136 East 57th Street.
until his death in 1972. 1941–1942
Industry Leaders on Board: Interior designer and alumna Eleanor McMillen Brown joins the NYSFAA’s board, which includes photographer Cecil Beaton. McMillen serves on the
The NYSFAA is renamed Parsons
School of Design in honor of
The First Parsons
the school’s influential longtime
Fashion Benefit is held,
director (1941). The following
coinciding with the
year, Van Day Truex becomes
emergence of New York
president of the school.
City as a fashion capital.
board for 40 years. Fashion illustration class, Parsons Paris, c. 1920s 1930s 1921
History in the Making: Jean-Michel Frank
The Paris Ateliers is established by NYSFAA alumnus
and his students design the iconic Parsons
William M. Odom and Frank Alvah Parsons as a satellite
Table at the Paris Ateliers. Legendary
school offering courses in architecture, decorative arts, and
designers Jeanne Lanvin, Elsa Schiaparelli,
costume design. In creating the Paris Ateliers, the NYSFAA
and Jean Patou serve as guest critics (1934).
becomes the first American art and design school to found
The Paris Ateliers closes in fall 1939, ahead
a permanent campus abroad.
of the Nazi occupation of the city.
Van Day Truex receives a scholarship to the Paris Ateliers after two years of study at the NYSFAA. He then becomes a faculty member and later the head of the Paris Ateliers. In 1955, he is made president of Tiffany and Co. in New York. 1930
Color spectrum chart by Parsons Paris student Ina Dell Marvin, 1930s
William M. Odom becomes president of the NYSFAA.
The New School founds the University in Exile as a safe haven for scholars fleeing
persecution in Europe. 1930–1931
A Home for Creative Ideas: Alvin Johnson (now The New School’s president) hires Austrian-born architect Joseph Urban to design an International Style building at
Alvin Johnson, an economist and the editor of the New Republic, is selected as director of The New
66 West 12th Street, which is completed in
1931. He commissions painters Thomas
Birthplace of the New: Robert Frost, Erwin and
Hart Benton and Camilo Egas and Mexican
Maria Ley Piscator, Aaron Copland, Martha
muralist José Clemente Orozco to create art
Graham, W.E.B. DuBois, Frank Lloyd Wright,
for the interior. The building’s auditorium is
Alexey Brodovitch, and W.H. Auden all share their
one of the country’s first Art Deco interiors.
revolutionary ideas with students including Harry Belafonte, Richard Avedon, and Marlon Brando.
School. Over the next quarter
century, he expands the school’s
In its first decades, The New School
offerings from social science and
offers pioneering courses and
policy courses to include the
workshops in jazz, film, theater, creative
humanities and arts.
writing, psychoanalysis, photography, and African-American history.
José Clemente Orozco and Camilo Egas, in front of Orozco’s New School Mural, 1931
• Parsons begins offering
(Originally Design in Industry)
Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees • Design Correlations Program (an experimental research program applying Students at an advertising design critique with faculty member James Frangides.
Parsons moves to 410 East 54th Street.
integrated problem solving skills in fields ranging from prosthetics to aerospace)
Christian Dior offers critique at the Paris Ateliers. 1950s
Cold War Climate: Parsons publishes a booklet, A School and the American Way of Life, with text by school president Pierre Bedard, promoting the connection between design education, democracy, and postwar prosperity
the critiques of celebrated visiting designers, including Oscar de la Renta, Calvin Klein, and Perry Ellis.
Photo from a review of the student show, published in Interiors magazine.
(February 22, 1970; see page 32)
Christian Dior with students George Yazbek and Alda Balestretti in Paris.
—New School President John R. Everett in press release announcing union of two schools,
“Designers are becoming key people in our social structure, and professional design education now more than ever requires that design students be exposed to the liberal arts and broad social perspectives.”
Parsons fashion students benefit from
Interior Design graduates mount A Place to Live, an exhibition proposing alternatives to substandard urban housing.
Interior Design students propose
Parsons joins the
designs for a women’s detention
New School for
center in New York.
Social Research through the
Ethical Awakening: The 20th century’s second half sees rapid social and political change. The GI Bill makes education accessible for countless veterans, some of whom attend Parsons and return to Europe as students. But postwar prosperity eventually gives way to nationwide unrest. As the city’s infrastructure deteriorates and destruction of the environment continues, young people fight for civil rights and protest the Vietnam War on college campuses, often clashing violently with police. In the midst of this turmoil, Parsons affiliates with The New School for Social Research, allowing for the expansion of degree programs, research centers, and international partnerships. The following decades are characterized by a profound philosophical shift at Parsons. Design comes to be seen as a means of addressing pressing matters such as social inequality and building a more just and environmentally sustainable world.
efforts of future Parsons dean
The Center for New York City
A Progressive Curriculum: New
Affairs is established on campus.
School students begin to engage with social topics in courses including Homosexuality in Literature from the Gay Nineties to the Present, The Hippie: Psychoanalytic Observations on American Culture, and Black Power and White Politics, which was taught by Shirley Chisholm.
The university hosts a public concert series, Jazz IS Music.
David C. Levy.
The University Art Collection is established.
Changemakers on Campus: Margaret Mead,
Hannah Arendt, John Cage, and Martin Luther
Undergraduate Gerda Lerner
King, Jr., engage with students and share new
teaches the first course in
thinking on social issues. Alumni Ed Fancher and
the United States on women’s
Dan Wolf found the Village Voice.
• BFA Fine Arts
• BFA Photography
• MFA in Fine Arts (then called Painting, Sculpture,
Design (a program
• BFA Art Education
• BFA in Crafts (clay, fiber,
The New School.
• MS Supervision and Administration (visual arts
and metal) • New Associate in Applied
• Mannes School of Music joins
focus) offered with Bank Street School
program (operates until 1993)
product design, and
Science degrees offer
opportunities for career
Policy (later renamed the Milano School) is
• John Culkin launches the
• Undergraduate Theatre
• The Graduate School of Management and Urban
• The School of Jazz is established by Parsons Dean David C. Levy along
• The Seminar College is established; it is renamed
with musician Arnie Lawrence and
first master’s program in
Eugene Lang College in 1985 in honor of its
media studies in the United
principal benefactor, a trustee who donated
$5 million to the undergraduate liberal arts division.
New School Dean Allen Austill. • MA Liberal Studies: Architecture
Pre-college courses are offered for the first time.
and Design Criticism (offered with New School for Social Research)
• MFA Lighting Design
MA History of Decorative
• BBA Design Marketing (now
Arts (offered with Cooper
Strategic Design and Management)
• BA/BFA Dual Degree
• MArch (Architecture) • BFA Computer Art and Design
An affiliate art and design school is established at Altos de Chavón in the Dominican Republic, offering creative education, including associate’s degrees
for transfer to Parsons.
Environment of Change: Students throughout the school respond to current events, mounting an antiwar art show, My God! We’re Losing a Great
Country, and organizing activities for the first Earth
The Parsons Paper reports on student trips
Day, including a teach-in led by Whole Earth Catalog
to the Soviet Union (1983) and communist
editor Stewart Brand (shown below). Photo by
Poland and Ronald Reagan’s victory
student Joseph Marcella (see re:Wind, page 33).
An affiliation begins between Parsons and Otis School of Art and Design in Los Angeles; it lasts until 1991.
Parsons’ fashion programs move to a building
Faculty member, author, and illustrator
at Seventh Avenue and 40th Street (later named
Maurice Sendak teaches on campus.
the David Schwartz Fashion Education Center).
Parsons moves to Greenwich Village.
The New Museum makes The New School its first home. Jeff Koons’ first-ever solo show is later mounted there (1980).
The New School for Social Research brings together dissident intellectuals for covert collaborations with colleagues in the Eastern Bloc, called Democracy Seminars.
BFA Architecture and
MFA Design and Technology
• The School of Drama is established. • The New School launches an interactive distance
learning program, enabling students to take
Built for Good: The Design Workshop,
courses and pursue a bachelor’s degree online.
Parson’s signature design-build program, is launched with a student project to
renovate New School interiors. The
The New School opens the Environmental
program, still in operation, partners with
Simulation Center, which employs advanced
organizations on a pro bono basis to
imaging techniques in research on urban
develop innovative community facilities.
climate change. Milano establishes urban
In honor of its centennial, Parsons establishes the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Archives Center (later renamed the New School Archives). Below: Anna-Maria Kellen visits the archives
Curator of Contemporary Design at Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian
Entering the Digital Age: As New York City recovers from an economic downturn in the 1990s, Parsons and The New School evolve together, embracing global perspectives, digitalization, and the growth of design as an economic force. As Cold War attitudes recede, immigration policy is loosened, resulting in a more geographically diverse student body at the university. Meanwhile, increasing access to the Internet and digital tools further collapses distances and radically alters communication, design practice, and labor. Parsons and The New School respond by offering new programs and experimenting with online education. Interdisciplinary, collaborative, and project-based learning methods underpin curricula in both institutions—laying the groundwork for closer integration of Parsons and the rest of The New School.
—Andrea Lipps, MA History of Design and Curatorial Studies ’08,
“At Parsons, I learned to see design everywhere and to understand it as an interface with the world.”
studies as a discipline (1996).
Parsons promotes diversity in design education by establishing
1991–1993 Above: Vera List Courtyard (1997), Martin Puryear and Michael Van Valkenburgh
Parsons Scholars, a three-year
Fighting Censorship: In the early 1990s, The
program that provides NYC high
New School engages with complex cultural
schoolers with college prep and
and national issues. The university, under
the leadership of President Jonathan Fanton, becomes the first institution to challenge the NEA’s anti-obscenity clause (1991). Two years later, the Vera List Center opens, providing a space for public discourse on the intersection of art and politics (1993).
Fine artist Kiki Smith joins Parsons as an artist-in-residence.
Alumnus Robert Tonner donates dolls dressed by celebrated designers from the Parsons community and auctions them at the Parsons Fashion Critics Awards Benefit, a scholarship fundraiser.
Integrated Design BFA
MFA Interior Design
BFA Digital Design (now Design and Technology)
2006 The Tishman Environment and Design Center is established at The New School under the leadership of
Below: bronXscape (2008), the Design Workshop
Towers. The center addresses
Higher Profile: Parsons continues to establish itself as a fashion pioneer, attracting celebrated
environmental issues by
Parsons organizes its
research, design, and policy
foster community between
and promotes social justice– focused goals and curricula.
supporters like Diane von Furstenberg and Marvin Traub to its board. Two years later, it gains nationwide recognition when Project Runway begins a 10-year run on campus, with host Tim Gunn, chair of Parsons’ Fashion Design
programs into five schools to and integration of related creative practices.
PETLab, a public interest interactive media lab, is founded in partnership with Games for Change.
Right: Early Warning, Early Action Game, a climate-change collaboration between PETLab and Red Cross/ Red Crescent, played in Senegal in 2009 2005 Above: The Event Corridor (1998), the Design Workshop
Global Focus: Students engage on an international scale, traveling for fieldwork, undertaking projects with a global scope, and serving as researcher-designers for
Parsons School of Design becomes
organizations dedicated to
Parsons The New School for Design,
promoting the public good,
in recognition of its full union with
including UNICEF and CARE.
The New School.
2009 Left: AMPLIFY: Creative and Sustainable Lifestyles in the Lower East Side project exhibition, 2010
Above: Tag Heuer prototype by Yong Yi Lee, Yoav Menachem, and Amit Ran Right: Prism Magnifier by Daniel Martinez for Areaware
Parsons faculty member Joel
DESIS Lab, the
U.S. branch of the international
Design + Business: Parsons develops
Network, is established at Parsons.
organizations and companies including
Sheila C. Johnson Design
Chanel, Godiva, Tag
The New School unveils
Center (SJDC) established:
Kara Walker’s first public
Philanthropist and Parsons
donor Sheila C. Johnson
underwrites a new campus hub, with student curatorial
Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF).
opportunities in the newly renovated Arnold and Sheila Aronson Galleries, programming for which
Right: Event Horizon (2005), Kara Walker
highlights community engagement and design.
• MFA Transdisciplinary
Milano launches the MA in
• MS Strategic Design and
• The New School introduces
• MS Data
Environmental Policy and
• MA Fashion Studies
• MS Design and Urban Ecologies
• MFA Fashion Design and
The Urban Policy Lab is
• MA Theories of Urban Practice
first major upgrade to its
established at The New School
• MA Design Studies
• BA Journalism +
• Parsons launches the
established in 1977.
2011 Scaling Sustainable Parsons and New School students collaborate on research to develop Empowerhouse, a passive solar house that wins awards at the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon. Habitat for Humanity adopts their innovative design scheme for affordable energy-efficient First-year students visit Brooklyn’s FlavorPaper as part of the updated undergraduate curriculum.
The New School for Social
Era of Resilience: Parsons expands its academic offerings to prepare designers for complex environments and emerging fields including service design, new media, data visualization, and scenario building. As curricula increasingly dissolve the boundaries between disciplines, members of the university community work together on initiatives with heightened impact. One hundred years ago, The New School’s founders set out to repair a society ravaged by World War I through progressive education. Today designers, artists, performers, public policy experts, and social scientists at the university are motivated by a similar commitment as they work to address climate change and foster a more sustainable, just, and inclusive society.
Research launches the Graduate Institute for Design, Ethnography, and Social Thought (GIDEST), a university-wide initiative to link design and social science capacities
Parsons Paris is launched as a reinvigorated university hub, offering bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
A major Parsons-College of Performing Arts collaboration, Mannes Opera’s Il Postino featured costumes, props, and stage projections created by Parsons students and performances by Mannes students.
Embracing Craft: Parsons begins a multiyear
partnership with Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton in which students engage broadly with craft, reworking fashions by alumnus Marc Jacobs and documenting traditional making practices.
DESIS Lab receives significant grants for collaborative community building initiatives, including financial self-sufficiency projects. 2013
Design and Performance: In a multiyear collaboration with Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, students from Mannes and Parsons’ Fashion Design and Design and Technology programs design innovative orchestral garments and interactive elements for recitals. 2014
University Center Opens: Project Qupre, by Bobae Moon, Product Design ’11, is jewelry that put pressure on wearers’ acupressure points.
The LEED Gold–certified building, ranked one of the most The gown worn by Mannes pianist Shulin Guo, designed by BFA Fashion Design students, is constructed to make performing comfortable. A digital projection by Design and Technology students is cast on her, enlivening the recital. At left, percussionist Jessica Tsang displays her motion-capture sensor gloves.
sustainable university buildings in the United States, enables The New School to gather all of its U.S.-based programs in Greenwich Village.
Cork, linoleum, an samples from HM library.
• MFA Industrial Design
MPS Communication Design
• MPS Fashion Management
• The School of Jazz and Contemporary
• BFA Design
Music, the School of Drama, and Mannes College come together to form the
College of Performing Arts.
as the university establishes a new visual identity 2015
Parsons Proud: Parsons is ranked among the world’s top art and design schools by Quacquarelli Symonds World Rankings; the school has maintained its position consistently since.
Brussels-born Ari Zolberg, who began teaching at The New School in 1983, founded his namesake institute in 1993.
The Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility
Inclusive Design: Grace Jun,
brings together artists and activists responding
MFA Design and Technology ’16,
to global migration. Former U.N. Deputy High
launches inclusive fashion and
Commissioner for Refugees Alexander Aleinikoff
tech initiative, Open Style Lab,
later reshapes the institute (2017), which receives
at Parsons; projects focus on
funding from New School trustee Henry Arnhold.
solutions for people with disabilities.
Urban Intervention: Parsons’ School of Constructed Environments (SCE) begins an ongoing partnership with the NYC Department of Transportation, resulting in Street Seats—sustainably
Rethinking Prisons: Interdisciplinary initiatives are launched at Eugene Lang College (Lang Prison Initiative, Humanities Action Lab), Schools of Public Engagement (Center for Transformative Mentoring) and Parsons (Reimagining Justice: NYC Without Rikers and the MFA Fashion Design and Society program’s Homeless But Not Hopeless studio project), to address various dimension of the prison system. 2017–2019
Equality in Action: Social justice curricula include Mindy Fullilove’s 400 Years of Inequality, Abigail Perez Aguilera’s Ecofeminism and Global Justice, and
—Prabal Gurung, AAS Fashion Design ’00
Parsons reassumes the name Parsons School of Design
“You feel the creativity up and down every hallway… Parsons allowed me to find my way not only in fashion and design, but also in a city where I knew no one. I was exposed to all different realms of design, and it became a crucial time for me in my career.”
Deva Woodly’s Black Lives Matter and the Democratic Necessity of Social Movements. 2019
New School Board of Trustees Chair Joseph Gromek gives $8.5 million to establish The Joseph and Gail Gromek Institute for Fashion Business, which supports Parsons students aiming to become industry leaders.
produced public seating on campus.
The Healthy Materials Lab
(HML) is created to promote the use of nontoxic, sustainable materials in the built environment.
nd rubber flooring ML’s materials
Capitol Idea: Parsons students and faculty participate in First Lady Michelle Obama’s first-ever fashion education workshop, repurposing materials for an interior installation in the White House. 2015
Global Outreach: In partnership with Donna Karan, Parsons founds the Design, Organization, Training (DOT) Center, a vocational hub for Haiti’s artisan community.
Data Driven: MS Data Visualization students partner with the UN Development Programme on Africa to provide policymakers with data-driven tools for advancing gender-related justice. 2016
Future Facing: Designers Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby establish the Designed Realities Lab at
Parsons opens the Making Center, 35,000 square feet of creative tools and resources, thanks to a major gift from designer and New School and Parsons board member, Kay Unger ’68. 2017
Performer-composer John Zorn brings his iconic NYC music venue,
Fashioned for All: Parsons students reimagine the design of the hospital gown for Care+Wear, a healthwear company, with support from AARP. They develop a sustainable menstruation garment for displaced persons, in collaboration with the UN Population Fund, clothing manufacturer HELA, and refugees in Kenya.
The Stone, to the university,
offering College of Performing Arts
The New School for Social Research’s
students performance and arts
Arien Mack leads The New University
in Exile Consortium, a group of
Parsons, leading students in
universities and colleges committed to
protecting persecuted scholars.
DISCOVER SOME OF THE CHANGEMAKERS WHO HAVE KEPT PARSONS AT THE CUTTING EDGE OF CREATIVITY
A LEGACY OF DESIGN
EDWARD HOPPER, FINE ARTIST NORMAN ROCKWELL, PAINTER AND ILLUSTRATOR JOSEPH PLATT, INTERIOR DESIGNER AND SET DESIGNER FOR GONE WITH THE WIND ROSE CONNOR, ARCHITECT GILBERT ADRIAN, FASHION DESIGNER AND COSTUME DESIGNER FOR THE WIZARD OF OZ VAN DAY TRUEX, ADVERTISING DESIGNER AND HEAD OF TIFFANY & CO. CLAIRE MCCARDELL, FASHION DESIGNER MELVIN DWORK, INTERIOR DESIGNER ALBERT HADLEY, INTERIOR DESIGNER BILL BLASS, FASHION DESIGNER DONALD BROOKS, FASHION DESIGNER BETTY STEVENS SHERRILL, INTERIOR DESIGNER AND CHAIR OF MCMILLEN INC ADRI, FASHION DESIGNER ANGELO DONGHIA, INTERIOR DESIGNER BEA FEITLER, GRAPHIC DESIGNER AND ART DIRECTOR OF MS. MARIO BUATTA, INTERIOR DESIGNER JOEL SCHUMACHER, FILMMAKER AND COSTUME DESIGNER DONNA KARAN, FASHION DESIGNER KAY UNGER, FASHION DESIGNER MICHAELE VOLLBRACHT, FASHION DESIGNER AND ILLUSTRATOR MICHAEL DONOVAN AND NANCYE GREEN, DESIGNERS AND FOUNDERS OF DONOVAN/GREEN RICH SILVERSTEIN, CREATIVE DIRECTOR AND CREATOR OF GOT MILK? AD CAMPAIGN JEFFREY BANKS, FASHION DESIGNER AND AUTHOR ANNA SUI, FASHION DESIGNER JUAN MONTOYA, INTERIOR DESIGNER DEE MACDONALD-MILLER, MANAGING DIRECTOR, JONES LANG LASALLE PATRICK KELLY, FASHION DESIGNER JAMIE DRAKE, INTERIOR DESIGNER NARCISO RODRIGUEZ, FASHION DESIGNER
1. Costume designs for The Wizard of Oz (1939) by Gilbert Adrian. 2. Dress by Claire McCardell. 3. Bizarre Blazaar (2019) by Nina Chanel Abney. Courtesy of Nina Chanel Abney and Kravets Wehby Gallery. 4. Google Glass (2013), a project led by Robert Wong. 5. Set of Tom Ford’s A Single Man (2009, with wardrobe design by Ford). 6. Ugly Doll by Sun-Min Kim and David Horvath. 7. Set design by Joseph Platt for Gone with the Wind (1939). 8. Interior by Mario Buatta. 9. Falling (Cornfield), 2007, by Ryan McGinley. Courtesy of Ryan McGinley and Artists Commissions. 10. Cover design mockup by Bea Feitler (1982). 11. Donna Karan's Seven Easy Pieces collection, (1985).
ISAAC MIZRAHI, FASHION DESIGNER AND TV PRESENTER MARC JACOBS, FASHION DESIGNER VICTORIA HAGAN, INTERIOR DESIGNER BARBARA KRUGER, ARTIST AND GRAPHIC DESIGNER TRACY REESE, FASHION DESIGNER ALINA ROYTBERG, FOUNDER OF BEAUTY BRAND FRESH TOM FORD, FASHION DESIGNER AND FILM DIRECTOR BOB WILLIAMS, CO-FOUNDER OF MITCHELL GOLD + BOB WILLIAMS ALEX LEE, PRODUCT DESIGNER SUSAN WEBER SOROS, FOUNDER AND DIRECTOR OF BARD GRADUATE CENTER REED KRAKOFF, DESIGNER AND ARTISTIC DIRECTOR OF TIFFANY & CO. RYAN MCGINLEY, PHOTOGRAPHER AI WEIWEI, FINE ARTIST ROBERT WONG, CHIEF CREATIVE OFFICER AT GOOGLE CREATIVE LAB ROBIN PREISS GLASSER ILLUSTRATOR OF THE FANCY NANCY SERIES SHEILA BRIDGES, INTERIOR DESIGNER CHRISTIANE LEMIEUX, FOUNDER OF DWELLSTUDIO SUN-MIN KIM AND DAVID HORVATH, ILLUSTRATORS AND CO-CREATORS OF UGLY DOLLS PRABAL GURUNG, FASHION DESIGNER LAZARO HERNANDEZ AND JACK MCCOLLOUGH (PROENZA SCHOULER), FASHION DESIGNERS ZACH LIEBERMAN, NEW MEDIA ARTIST AND CO-CREATOR OF OPENFRAMEWORKS CHRISTIAN MARC SCHMIDT, DESIGNER AND FOUNDER OF SCHEMA ALEXANDER WANG, FASHION DESIGNER MARC THORPE, ARCHITECT AND DESIGNER EVAN ROTH, INTERACTION DESIGNER AND FOUNDER OF GRAFFITI RESEARCH LAB MANUEL LIMA, UX DESIGNER AND AUTHOR NINA CHANEL ABNEY, FINE ARTIST CARLY CUSHNIE, FASHION DESIGNER ARIEL KENNAN, INTEGRATED DESIGNER DUNCAN TONATIUH, AUTHOR AND ILLUSTRATOR SOPHIA SUNWOO, CO-FOUNDER OF THE
DESIGNING DA GNING DATA PARSONS DESIGNERS ENGAGE WITH THE PROMISE AND CHALLENGE OF A FUTURE SHAPED BY DATA
In an 11th-floor classroom at Parsons School of Design, students discuss the week’s tech headlines. Work tables speckled with paint have been pulled together in a large square, and the New York skyline—a reminder that we are situated in a global hub of commerce and creativity—rises through broad windows in the background. Informed by the digital activism of professor David Carroll ’00, the subject of Netflix’s recent documentary The Great Hack, the conversation covers a spectrum of topics. Are algorithms firing Amazon warehouse workers? What happens if Instagram removes the “like” function? Will YouTube’s crackdown on toxic content affect shareholder profits? “The future is private,” one student says, quoting Mark Zuckerberg, and his peers chuckle at the irony. The debate is energetic. Beyond their connections to coursework, these questions frame students’ lived experience as digital natives and
budding designers. Co-taught by Carroll and Melanie Crean—associate professors at Parsons’ School of Art, Media, and Technology—Dark Data is a seminar that invites students to study digital tracking infrastructures created around the world, along with the broader possibilities of mass data collection. Questions posed in the classroom each week reflect a larger undertaking at Parsons. From data ethics and machine learning workshops to research conducted by professors, students, and alumni, the design school is pioneering a new approach to data. In keeping with its tradition of blurring disciplinary lines, Parsons is teaching young creators to think critically about the designer’s role in shaping the data-driven future. Back in 2014, Carroll was simultaneously launching the Dark Data course (then called Surveillance Design) and trying to get his content start-up off the ground. While integrating Facebook into his app, he discovered that the platform was offering developers unfiltered access to huge amounts of user data. “I started to feel the pressure of invading people’s privacy to make money,” says Carroll. “The default setting in the industry was maximum data collection.”
by Lilit Markosian
Earlier this year, David Carroll, MFA Design and Technology ’00, was prominently featured in the critically acclaimed Netflix documentary The Great Hack, which
explores Cambridge Analytica’s data hacking scandal.
The realization that anonymity on the Internet is a myth took Carroll’s
“Our students are working in the industry, building the infrastructure of
career and the Dark Data curriculum in a new direction. Within five years,
commercial surveillance, whether they realize it or not,” Carroll explains.
the professor has emerged as a prominent digital privacy activist, and
“Even as user interface or experience designers, they will have to confront
the seminar has evolved to encompass Silicon Valley’s most pressing
ethical and social justice dilemmas in their work.” He hopes students’
ethical controversies. Last year, its focus was Cambridge Analytica, a
Parsons education will prepare them to ask difficult questions and create
British consulting firm that mined data from millions of Facebook users
technologies that serve rather than exploit users.
and allegedly used that information to target U.S. voters with political
One doesn’t have to look far to see that Carroll’s hopes are not in
ads. Carroll became personally involved when he sued Cambridge
vain. His students are actively engaged in developing a new ethic of data
Analytica for access to his voter file from the 2016 election. He says that
collection and management. For example, Ellie Frymire ’19—an MS Data
this nationwide scandal was another “oil-spill moment”—an event that
Visualization and Dark Data alumna—used her thesis project as an
changed attitudes toward social media and digital privacy both in and
opportunity to illuminate prevalent attitudes toward the “me too”
outside of the classroom.
movement. Frymire harvested more than one million tweets posted with
Last spring, Carroll’s students explored data-driven platforms
the #MeToo hashtag and employed machine learning methods to identify
created in the United States
trends in the data set. She then created an interactive visualization that
makes it easy to browse through the tweets for common themes and words.
“OUR STUDENTS ARE WORKING IN THE INDUSTRY, BUILDING THE INFRASTRUCTURE OF COMMERCIAL SURVEILLANCE WHETHER THEY REALIZE IT OR NOT” DAVID CARROLL
ranged from Silicon Valley’s
According to Frymire, her #MeToo project presents information in an
infringement on user rights
agnostic way, allowing viewers to draw their own conclusions. “I think how
we direct the communication of data is pivotal for designers,” she says. In
emphasize regulation to India’s
her view, it’s important to consider what the most ethical method of telling
biometric citizen registry and
a story and sharing information is. Frymire’s thesis does more than reveal
subnarratives in a global movement. It represents an ethical application
of user information that social media companies usually funnel into
graduates and undergraduates
invasive advertising channels. Her work shows that data-driven programs
are not necessarily synonymous with privacy invasion and surveillance—
they can also be tools for social research and empowerment.
their research into the classroom each week and developed an online
Frymire, who came to Parsons after several years working as a tech
publication that presents their investigative journalism and data
consultant in a business setting, describes herself as a “data optimist.”
visualizations. Also called Dark Data, the website thoughtfully explores
Recognizing that technologists can get caught in silos, she chose Parsons
every facet of the modern digital experience. The website’s masthead
for her graduate studies in order to challenge her thinking. “I was thrilled
that there were these classes that would advance my career but also
cookies or use tracking codes.
broaden my perspective,” she says. After her experience in Carroll’s Dark
Beyond encouraging young designers to educate themselves about
Data course and with other learning opportunities—such as working
the Internet platforms they use daily, Carroll says the ultimate purpose
with the United Nations to analyze data on global gender inequalities—
of Dark Data is to prepare students for the creative economy they will
Frymire began to consider the complications related to data collection
soon step into. Alumni of the course have been recruited by influential
and analysis. “Parsons taught me that data is powerful. Understanding that
global players such as Google, Facebook, Amazon, Palantir, and the CIA.
power and how it’s used in a designer role was what changed my worldview.”
“PARSONS TAUGHT ME THAT DATA IS POWERFUL. UNDERSTANDING THAT POWER AND HOW IT’S USED IN A DESIGNER ROLE WAS WHAT CHANGED MY WORLDVIEW.” ELLIE FRYMIRE
Frymire’s #MeToo project,
which she presented at the Design Indaba conference in South
embodies the kind of methodology she has gone on to master and transform into a career with Two-N, a leading data visualization firm in New York City. Today her clients include prominent news and advertising
despite requests to mold information in a certain way, Frymire is steadfast in her commitment to presenting data intentionally and ethically. She feels empowered to push for transparency. Because everything in a data visualization—including color, font, and type size—can be interpreted as information, Frymire says, design can be a powerful “mediator between message and audience.” Clients often fail to see the gaps in the data and concepts they want to present. The designer’s job is to identify and eliminate discrepancies. For example, there is a difference between stating that “80 percent of people like strawberries” and “Of those people that eat fruit, 80 percent like
Ellie Frymire presents her thesis work at the Design Indaba conference in
strawberries.” By monitoring such details, she explains, designers can
Cape Town, South Africa.
do their part to make data representations unambiguous and more accurate. “If the message is clear and ethical, the design should reflect that.”
at Parsons. In his mind, data is an abstraction that is neither good nor
Making the transition from data optimist to data realist is a common
bad. “It’s one of many ways to understand the world, the basis for most
experience throughout the industry. Carroll has noticed a growing
scientific inquiry, but it can be misleading.”
awareness and culture shift at Parsons as well. “Five years ago, many
Hill encourages his students to explore the potential of machine
of us were unquestioning and in the exuberant throes of thinking, ‘What
learning and the 21st century’s unprecedented computing power. Much
can go wrong?’ The deflation of that euphoria has translated into a
can be achieved as long as aspiration is coupled with critical thought.
deeper criticality.” But a more critical approach does not preclude hope
Awareness is key. Whether they are designers or coders or both, students
for better industry standards or the possibility of employing data science
must be aware that every data-driven program is susceptible to critical
in beneficial ways.
errors. A facial recognition algorithm that is fed a data set biased in favor
“I don’t ever see data as the problem as much as I see interpretation as
of white people, for example, may fail to recognize the faces of people of
the problem,” says Aaron Hill, assistant professor of data visualization,
color. “It’s very important to stay connected to the ways in which it can
who leads several machine learning and data visualization classes
go wrong,” says Hill, “and then work with optimism but also with the knowledge of those vulnerabilities.” Nuanced and humane data models will undoubtedly be developed as the industry advances. According to Hill, ethical data cultivation and analysis call for diverse professional backgrounds. Most data visualizations are built from scratch and require in-depth knowledge of computing and database systems. Designers must be able to grapple with rigorous quantitative challenges while searching for the most effective visual communication methods. “It takes interfacing with very complex data that have to be aggregated, augmented, cleaned, and interpreted,” explains the professor. “These are very different skill sets, and someone in this discipline has to be able to traverse all of them.” Parsons’ ongoing engagement with interdisciplinary practice makes their academic careers, students combine design and technical expertise with the critical outlook developed in seminars like Dark Data, finding new ways to make data mining and amalgamation more transparent. “I look at the way that fashion has been introspective and tried to deal with the moral issues of the industry,” says Carroll. “It’s inspiring to think about what we can do in our own fields to support that impulse to be questioning and critical.” Engaging with data ethics is merely a first step. Significant change in the data-driven economy requires more than an adjustment in attitude— it calls for a new kind of designer. The creative and tech industries are converging as they evolve, and designers trained in data analytics and machine learning can occupy an influential space in that world. Lilit Markosian is New-York based and writes about the effects of new technologies on culture and community. She is currently pursuing a degree in creative writing.
Students in the Dark Data course edit their digital publication. See their work here: newschool.edu/red/dark-data.
the school an ideal place to foster new perspectives on data. Throughout
Leo and Diane Dillon Illustrators of Change
Many creative associations develop at Parsons, and the school has produced a number of marriages as well. More rare, however, are partnerships like the one between book illustrators Leo and Diane Dillon ’56. From Brooklyn and Los Angeles respectively, the two met as art students at Parsons, where they “competed bitterly,” Leo recalled in an interview with the American Institute of Graphic Arts. But years of artistic rivalry produced an unexpected chemistry, and a year after graduation, the two married and began a decadeslong collaboration illustrating science fiction, fantasy, and children’s books. The Dillons spoke of a creative force they called It, an artist who emerged as they worked and whose powers were greater than the sum of their individual abilities. The Dillons’ collaborative creative process was unusual; so was their early support for diversity, especially in an era when most children’s books featured white characters. An interracial couple with a mixed-race son, they sought to advance the representation of children of all backgrounds while employing a multicultural design language inspired by sources ranging from 1960s psychedelia to Native American design and Japanese woodcuts to illuminated medieval manuscripts. The Dillons’ work appears on the cover and in the pages of more than 100 books and earned them Caldecott Medals in 1976 and 1977, for Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears, by Verna Aardema, and Ashanti to Zulu: African Traditions, by Margaret Musgrove. newschool.edu/red/dillon Below: Cover art created by Leo and Diane Dillon for James Baldwin’s Nobody Knows My Name: More Notes of a Native Son; illustrations for the popular children’s book W hy
Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears by Verna A ardema.
Levi Higgs Milennial Archivist
When he’s not examining old drawings or catalogs, Levi Higgs ’14 is sharing his passion for jewelry and the history of decorative arts through his Instagram account, which has attracted more than 60,000 followers. His posts aren’t about status so much as access. “I want to be able to offer people entry into a world they wouldn’t be able to see otherwise—to see these things close-up,” Higgs explains.
Higgs grew up in small-town Wyoming, where he was more
likely to see a rattlesnake than a Bulgari Serpenti bangle. He came to Parsons’ History of Design and Curatorial Studies master’s program after completing an art history degree. Higgs was fascinated by the ways jewelry can encapsulate a particular period and its culture. But he wanted to do more than just study the past; he wanted to revive it. Higgs got that opportunity when he was hired by David Webb. “I always wanted to use history in a contemporary way,” he says. “As an archivist at a heritage brand, that’s exactly what I get to do.”
Most of an archivist’s work is about preservation and
organization, but occasionally Higgs has discovered something totally new. “Once David Webb owned this triangular-shaped brooch that we really liked, and we started to do the research on it and looked at the drawings,” Higgs recalls. “We discovered it was owned by [the businesswoman, heiress, and socialite] Marjorie Merriweather Post.” The research connected the brooch to thousands of other objects in Post’s collection, once one of the most significant in the United States. “Sometimes we reveal history about pieces nobody knew before.” @levi_higgs Below: A ntique jewels featured on Higgs’ Instagram
“I want to be able to offer people entry into a world they wouldn’t be able to see otherwise—to see these things close-up.”
Luma Jasim Artist as Witness
“My purpose as an artist is to bear witness to these horrors.” Iraqi-born multimedia artist Luma Jasim ’17 uses her work to
fellow. Jasim’s work has been shown in group and solo shows in New
express her nostalgia and comment on the fate of the country
York, Boise, and venues around the world.
she was forced to leave behind. Through painting, animation,
performance, and other art forms, she “explores the relationship
and tar, which she uses to symbolize her home. She combines
between violence, politics, gender, and emotional memory.” Three
them with photographs and prints to capture her experience. “The
years after the invasion of Iraq, she emigrated to Istanbul, Turkey.
living tragedy of Iraq, my home country, generates many of my
Later she moved to the United States and settled in Boise, Idaho.
artistic ideas. Car bombings killed and maimed large numbers of
simple, ordinary people in the markets, near schools, where workers
Already a practicing artist, Jasim came to Parsons for a
Jasim is drawn to nontraditional materials such as motor oil
master’s in fine art. There she pursued her explorations of trauma
gathered, on buses, and by police stations,” says Jasim. “My purpose
and narrative through a variety of media. After graduation, she
as an artist is to bear witness to these horrors.”
completed a residency at MASS MoCA and received the 2017 AAF/
Seebacher Prize for Fine Arts, presented by the American Austrian
Foundation. In 2019, she was selected as a Storyteller’s Institute
Jasim presenting her 2016 performance piece I Hate You Oil.
Steven Meisel Fashioner of Icons
If you’ve glanced at a fashion magazine in the past 30 years, you’ve likely seen a cover photograph by Steven Meisel. Known for his evocative concepts, impeccable taste, and exacting standards, Meisel has arguably shaped fashion imagery more than any other contemporary visual storyteller. His creativity extends across a range of platforms, from advertising campaigns for celebrated fashion brands to magazines including Vogue and Vogue Italia (for whom he shot every cover during editor Franca Sozzani’s tenure) to Madonna’s 1992 book, Sex. Peers and cultural arbiters including Harold Koda of The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute have described him as one of the most influential, prolific, and provocative photographers in the industry.
Meisel came to Parsons in the 1970s to study fashion illustration.
After graduation, he drew for Halston and Women’s Wear Daily while teaching at Parsons. Meisel’s career as a photographer took off when he started shooting model friends for their portfolios, which led to a gig with Elite Management. Impressed by the quality of his work, magazine editors signed up the young photographer, and he hasn’t put down a camera since.
Meisel strikes a difficult-to-achieve balance between client needs
and a desire to interweave messages and even wit throughout his editorials. “My favorite editorials are the ones that allow me to say something,” Meisel told fashion magazine 032c. “It’s not because they are controversial that I like them, but because they say a little more than just a beautiful woman in a beautiful dress. I love that too, but to try to say something is also my goal.” newschool.edu/red/meisel Top: Portrait by Parsons Fashion Design alumna Susan Shacter, styled by A nna Sui Below left: Marc Jacobs S/S ‘19 campaign
Below right: Versace F/W ‘98–’99 campaign
“My favorite editorials are the ones that allow me to say something.”
re:D (regarding Design) 2019 EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Anne Adriance EDITORIAL BOARD: Dustin Bryant; A. Mark Gibbel; Jen Rhee, MA Media Studies ’13 PARSONS ADVISORY BOARD: Burak Cakmak; Anne Gaines, MFA Fine Arts ’00; Rhonda Garelick; Robert Kirkbride; Jane Pirone; Molly Rottman, MA Fashion Studies ’13; Rachel Schreiber; Joel Towers MANAGING EDITOR: Kyle Hansen EDITOR and LEAD WRITER: John Haffner Layden CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Lilit Markosian, Daniel
Penny, Jenny Swadosh LEAD DESIGNER: Carmen McLeod, AAS Graphic
Design ’15 ADDITIONAL DESIGN: Mariah Tarvainen PRODUCTION COORDINATORS: Steven Arnerich;
Sung Baik COPY EDITOR: Leora Harris PRODUCED BY: Marketing and Communication, The New School LETTERS AND SUBMISSIONS: re:D welcomes letters
and submissions. Include your year of graduation, degree completed, and major or program. Unsolicited materials will not be returned. CONTACT US/ADDRESS CHANGES: re:D, Parsons School
of Design, 79 Fifth Avenue, 17th floor, New York, NY 10003, firstname.lastname@example.org Regarding Design, October 2019 Postmaster: Send address changes to Regarding Design (re:D), 79 Fifth Avenue, 17th floor, New York, NY 10003.
CREDITS: Nina Chanel Abney (Legacy.); Courtesy of
Better Together The archival press release marking Parsons’ union with The New School On February 22, 1970, The New School for Social Research distributed a press release announcing the affiliation of Parsons School of Design with the university now known as The New School. At the time, Parsons had a student body of 650—a small number compared to The New School’s 16,000—and was experiencing financial hardship. Yet administrators saw the union as an opportunity to strengthen both institutions. “Studio disciplines alone are not enough in the training of tomorrow’s designers,” said Parsons President Francis A. Ruzicka. “[ The designer] must have an understanding of the social, economic, political, and other factors which affect everyday life.” Similarly, Dr. John R. Everret, then president of The New School, felt that Parsons “complements and broadens the flourishing New School program in the arts.” In the nearly fifty years since the publication of this release, Parsons and The New School have jointly developed a robustly interdisciplinary approach to learning that has paved the way for emerging fields of practice. Together they are committed to creating a more just, more beautiful, and better designed world.
Architectural Digest (Legacy.); Courtesy of Areaware (Creative C.); Courtesy of Armco Steel Corporation (re:WIND); Serge Balkin (Legacy.); Craig Barritt /Getty Images (News); Slava Blazer Photography (News); Ryan Blum-Krystal (Creative C.); Emily Adams Bode (News); Flora Chan and Abby Chen (News); Yuti Chang (Creative C.); Daniel Chou (News); Emily Chu (News); Leo and Diane Dillon (Profiles); Courtesy of Donna Karan New York (Legacy.); James Ewing (Cover); Bea Feitler (Legacy.); Ben Ferrari (News); Miguel FloresVianna (News); Camila Godoy (News); Courtesy of Google (Legacy.); Jonathan Grassi (Creative C.); Maria J. Hackett (News); Bob Handelman (Creative C.); Peter Hapak/Trunk Archive (Profiles); Courtesy of Harry Ransom Center (Legacy.); Marie Havens (Creative C.); Levi Higgs (Profiles); Courtesy of IBM (Profiles); Charlotte Ólöf Jónsdóttir (Creative C.); Clemens Kalischer (Creative C.); Sameer Khan (News); Courtesy of Richard Klein and Paul Rand Charitable Trust (estate of Paul Rand) (Profiles); Kyle Knodell (Profiles); Spencer Kohn (Creative C.) Courtesy of L+R (Profiles); Courtesy of Lantern Entertainment (Legacy.); Christopher Lawrence (Creative C.); John Haffner Layden (News); Yong Yi Lee, Yoav Menachem, and Amit Ran (Creative C.); David Lubarsky/The New Museum (Creative C.); Nick Machalaba/WWD (Profiles); Joseph Marcella (re:WIND); Lisa Marks (News); Matthew Mathews (Creative C.); Steven Ryan McGinley (Legacy.); Meisel (Profiles); Bobae Moon (Creative C.); Michael Moran (Creative C.); Bruce Nicholson (News); Courtesy of PETLab (Creative C.); Jacob Pritchard (Creative C.); Fabian Raphael Rastorfer (News); Sarah J. Rocco (News, Profiles, Legacy.); Martin Seck (Cover, Creative C., Designing D.); Pierre Schermann/WWD (Profiles); Susan Shacter (Profiles); Kim Shui (News); Michael Kirby Smith (Creative C.); Jerry Speier (News); Erinn Springer (News); Sarah Staudinger (News); Peter Stackpole (Legacy.); Eduardo Staszowski (Creative C.); Robert Tonner (Creative C.); Dana Trippe (News); Courtesy of Sara Little Turnbull Center for Design Institute (Profiles); The New School Archives and Special Collections (Creative C.); Jeroen van der Wielen (Designing D.) The New School does not discriminate on the basis of age, race, color, gender, sexual orientation, religion, religious practices, mental or physical disability, national or ethnic origin, citizenship status, or veteran or marital status. The New School is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Institution.
Modular Environmental Structural System Joseph Marcella
re:WIND Iconic work from Parsons’ archives (1970)
Product Design, BFA ’70 Developed in an era of space exploration and
with new materials and seeking ways to
growing ecological awareness, the Modular
connect with the natural environment.
Environmental Structural System (M.E.S.S.),
Today, as climate change heightens the need
by Joseph Marcella, unites organic forms and
for affordable migrant shelters, Marecella’s
geometry in a futuristic building typology.
design seems especially prescient.
In his design, users can configure three kinds of fiber-reinforced polyester panels into an infinite number of structures. The panels’ reflective surfaces make the M.E.S.S. seem to dissolve into its surroundings, embodying a subtle critique of humans’ impact on the planet.
At Parsons, Marcella made an impact in more ways than one. The design school’s participation in the first Earth Day (1970) would not have been possible if he had not helped recruit speakers to campus and convinced administrators to cancel classes so that students could participate in
Marcella, who graduated with honors from
teach-ins. Marcella also gained acclaim as a
Parsons’ Correlations Department (now
student for his design of a one-piece, foam-
known as Product Design) in 1970, created
injected stackable plastic chair that arguably
M.E.S.S. for Armco Steel Corporation’s annual
represents the precursor to the ubiquitous
student design program, which challenged
version in market to this day.
young designers to reimagine “concepts for tomorrow’s leisure.” According to his project notes, Marcella’s aim was to create a system for weatherproof and portable semipermanent housing. The result was a flexible design with a honeycomb structural core that reflects the era’s DIY impulse and desire to break from traditional building styles.
Marcella’s creative career embodies the spirit of making in a pre-computer era. In the fifty years since he graduated from Parsons, the designer has gone on to explore photography and work in diverse industries including construction, historical restoration, and farming.
At the time, designers were experimenting
ABOVE: Marcella photographed sitting inside a M.E.S.S. structure for a 1970 Armco press release. LEFT: A contact sheet from 1969 shows Marcella and fellow students constructing a M.E.S.S. structure indoors.
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In keeping with this issue’s focus on interwoven histories, the cover layers photos of iconic Parsons and New School spaces— the 13th Street side of Parsons’ anchor building, the University Center, and a vintage image of The New School’s original auditorium— bringing them together into a rich, layered composition that echoes the university itself.