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PORTFOLIO Street Art in the Caribbean Exquisite Corpse

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CONNECTED Dan Redding ’03 and Ryan Germick ’03




DEVELOPMENT The Parsons Scholars Program


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FEATURES IS DESIGN THE NEW LIBERAL ARTS? As a changing world demands new perspectives and solutions, design education makes more sense for more students than ever before TEACHING AGAINST TYPE: LUCILLE TENAZAS Parsons’ first Henry Wolf Professor of Communication Design & Technology is adding new layers of complexity and craft to the thriving department

A performance of Shakespeare’s The Tempest performed by Lang students and outfitted by Parsons students, was part of the Catastrophe Slam (see p.9).



THE WAY Parsons Dean Tim Marshall has assumed the newly expanded role of provost of The New School for the period from March 2009 to June 2010. Marshall’s appointment follows a season of debate and discussion on campus regarding a more collaborative balance between the university’s academic and administrative voices. The appointment has been welcomed by students, faculty, the deans and officers, and the board of trustees as well as President Bob Kerrey. Joel Towers, Dean of the School of Design Strategies, has been named interim Dean of Parsons to serve until Marshall reassumes that post in 2010.


FROM THE HEART On Valentine’s Day, the names, faces, stories, and dreams of hundreds of homeless teenagers flooded the website of Do1Thing. Co-founded by Design and Technology student Najlah Feanny Hicks, the organization raises awareness of the 1.3 million homeless young people in the United States and involves the public in doing “one thing” to lower that number. In response to the 24-hour Web launch, Hicks’ thesis project, more than 100 photographers and filmmakers, including 24 Pulitzer Prize winners, uploaded images of children who have aged out of foster care or left troubled families. Visit to learn more.

ORIGAMI RESIDENT Design and Technology student Jonah Model’s Origami project is one of 19 winners of the Digital Media and Learning Competition, funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Origami is a file-sharing system that promotes ad hoc learning spaces using a visual tag for linking physical spaces with existing collaborative software.


OF INNOVATION This fall, Parsons will welcome the first class of students into its long-anticipated MFA Program in Interior Design (pending state approval). The innovative program will integrate tradition with new challenges and dimensions in interior design practice, such as sustainable design and enhanced building performance, new developments in technology and materials, and new types of clients and users that arise from social change and shifts in demographics. “With Parsons’ strong emphasis on the social impact of design, this program is uniquely qualified to confront these modern challenges,” said Lois Weinthal, director of Interior Design at Parsons. The faculty are also developing dynamic graduate programs in Transdisciplinary Design, Fashion Studies, Design Management, and Fashion Design and Society. Collectively, they signal a shift to understanding design as a connective practice that addresses environmental and economic challenges in global contexts and in emerging industries.

ARTIST MFA Fine Arts student Kyoung Eun Kang was chosen to attend the prestigious Skowhegan Institute, an intensive residency for emerging visual artists. Her work pushes self-awareness in explorations of her body, materials, and surroundings.


OPPORTUNITY Interaction and Space, the first photography exhibit by U.S. students in the history of the State Hermitage Museum will be on view in Saint Petersburg, Russia, in June. Co-curated by faculty member Thomas Werner, the show features work by 13 Parsons undergrads.


CARPET MOMENT On Earth Day, April 22, KIEHL’S stores nationwide unveiled a Limited Edition Label Art series for their Superbly Restorative Argan Body Lotion, including a design created by a team of students from Parsons’ Sustainable Design Review. Marie Clare Brush, Alex Bulloch, and Jennifer Mutrux joined socially conscious celebrity designers, including surfer Kelly Slater, musician Erykah Badu, and actor Adrian Grenier. All of the net proceeds will go to the grassroots waterways protection organization, Waterkeeper Alliance. Parsons was brought into the project by alumna Maria Gustafson ‘91, the head of design at KIEHL’S.


RM RIV VU Visitors to PULSE New York, the city’s hottest contemporary art fair, found a peaceful haven in a public reading room designed by students in the MFA Fine Arts program. The room incorporated work by the program’s 40-plus students, chosen by independent curator Eva Diaz.


V I S ION The Par sons Institute For Information Mapping (PIIM) has received funding from the United Nations to create an online tool to help the world’s citizens understand and further the UN’s work.


CAMERA, TAKE ACTION In honor of International Women’s Day, 450 movie theaters across the United States screened A Powerful Noise, a compelling documentary produced by Sheila C. Johnson, chair of Parsons’ board of governors and global ambassador for CARE International. The film focuses on three women—living in Vietnam, Bosnia, and Mali—whose activism has opened up possibilities for themselves and their communities. Said Johnson, “I am convinced that the more women in developed nations hear the stories of these courageous women … the more they will step up to help them.” Learn more at AND … On March 21, the History of Decorative Arts and Design master’s program hosted a symposium, Design on Film, at the CooperHewitt. Faculty members Jamer Hunt, Cameron Tonkinwise, and Marilyn Cohen discussed the interplay between cinema and design studies, using films such as Safe and Koyaanisqatsi as examples. The School of Constructed Environments is a university partner for the second international Professional Lighting Design Conference, to be held in Berlin, October 28–31, 2009.


NEWS & EVENTS 1, 2, 3 Emily Thompson, Victoria Anne Rospond, Lisa Pincus and Kent Kleinman at the AfterTaste3 dinner 4 Tucker Viemeister and Mayer Rus discuss AfterTaste3 5, 6, 7 AAS Interior Design director Johanna Woodcook celebrates with students and faculty in their installation at Dining By Design NY 2009 8 A student fashions a dress from fibers at Palimpsest 9, 10 Students engaged in interactive projects at Palimpsest

International scholars discussed design as it relates to the human senses for AfterTaste3. 4





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Palimpsest (right), projects by first-year Foundation students. Students work on Dining by Design (left).



Parsons designers dressed the First Lady of the United States and the First Lady of Soul on Inauguration Day. Michelle Obama wore pieces by Isabel Toledo and Jason Wu; Aretha Franklin wore a hat by Luke Song.


INTO THE OPEN: POSITIONING PRACTICE The official U.S. pavilion at the 11th International Architecture Exhibition was on view at Parsons’ Sheila C. Johnson Design Center from March to May. The exhibition was deemed “a call to arms for architects … to seek out new forms of practice and recognize that traditional methods of architecture need to adapt to contemporary life.” It featured installations by architectural groups whose work involves communities and responds to social and environmental conditions. OYSTER GARDENS OF NYC (April 15–24), an exhibition of designs, models, photographs, and scientific data documenting a yearlong public project involving Parsons and Eugene Lang College. Students and teachers from both schools constructed a functional oyster garden in New York City waterways. THESIS EXHIBITIONS Integrated Design Curriculum (April 29–May 8) MFA Design & Technology (May 2–3) MFA Fine Arts at The Kitchen, in NY (May 7–16) Illustration (May 11, 5:00-11:00 p.m.) BFA Fashion (May 12–14) BFA Photography (May 12–22) School of Art, Media, & Technology (May 15–26) Design & Management (May 17) School of Constructed Environments (May 20–27) Coming Up Dormitorium: Film “Decors” by the Quay Bros. (July 15–October 4).


AFTERTASTE3: NEW AGENDAS FOR THE INTERIOR, the third in Parsons’ series of symposia dedicated to critical review of interior design, took place

April 3–4. Four panels featured designers, architects, and ar tists whose work addresses the role of the senses in the imagining of interiors. Participants included James Auger, Robert Israel, Charlie Morrow, Jorge Otero-Pailos, Mayer Rus, and Sissel Tolaas. EMERGING EXCHANGES: NEW ARCHITECTURES OF INDIA (April 30–May 1), a conference exploring the material and territorial shifts in urban and rural Indian architecture, featured a keynote address by Arjun Appadurai.


BusinessWeek editor, writer, and blogger Bruce Nussbaum joined Parsons’ School of Design Strategies as Visiting Professor of Innovation and Design. He also teaches classes across The New School. One of I.D. magazine’s 40 most influential people in design, Nussbaum was a finalist for the 2008 “Design Mind” National Design Award of the Cooper-Hewitt. He was recently appointed to the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Design. Wendy Scheir has joined Parsons as director of the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Archives. She was previously an archivist for The New York Public Library and the Tamiment Library’s Robert F. Wagner Archives.


VISITORS Sustainability and design theory guru Tony Fry on design as a force for change in the midst of turmoil… Brazilian design superstar Felipe Taborda on Latin American graphic design…Fine artists Shahzia Sikander, Saya Woolfalk, Sanford Biggers, Paul Pfeiffer, Paul Ramirez-Jonas, Silvia Kolbowski, Wangechi Mutu, Rebecca Quaytman, Emily Jacir, Dominique GonzalezFoerster, Paul Seitsima, and Simon Starling on their recent work…Mark Whyse, Leslie Hewitt, and Mia Fineman on the obsolescence of the photographic object. Designer Constantin Boym and art historian Fereshteh Daftari on global issues in design…architects Teddy Cruz, Deborah Gans, Laura Kurgan, and Rick Lowe in conversation with Venice Biennale exhibition curators Bill Menking and Aaron Levy… fashion professionals Narciso Rodriguez, Carolina Herrera, Cathy Horyn, and Julie Gilhart on the garment industry.


The Sheila C. Johnson Design Center at Parsons, designed by Lyn Rice Architects, was honored with a 2009 AIA Institute Honor Award. The center was one of 25 projects selected from more than 700 international applicants. Design and Technology graduate Tracy Gromek MFA ‘08 won the first annual Cologne Design Award for FiiWA (Freedom in Interactive Wearable Art), sports equipment for people with visual impairments. The products use sound, vibration, and light cues to orient players in the play area. Natalia Allen ‘04, a recent Fashion Design alum, was honored by the World Economic Forum as one of several hundred outstanding young leaders from around the world. Student menswear designer Christine Wu was a Geoffrey Beene Scholarship Fund recipient at the 2009 FSF Geoffrey Beene Fashion Scholarship Dinner. Four students receive the $25,000 scholarship. AAS student Sarah Roberts was chosen 20 0 9 S tu d ent A m b as s a d or by t he International Interior Design Association. Design and Technology MFA candidates Drew Cogbill, Yumi Endo, and Rabia Malik won the Forum Nokia Mobile Games Competition 2009 for University Students with a tex t- messaging met a - game, Weekness, beating out 43 other entries. Parsons-trained designers swept the latest CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Awards, with Alexander Wang taking the top prize of $200,000 and a year of mentorship and Lisa Mayock ‘03 and Sophie Buhai ‘03 of Vena Cava receiving second-place honors: a $50,000 award and a business mentorship. Lighting Design student Darlene Myrie r e c ei ve d t h e 20 0 9 J o n as B ellov in scholarship offered through the Nuckols fund, presented at the Lightfair international convention. Carly Cushnie and Michelle Ochs (both BFA ’07) of Cushnie et Ochs and Flora Gill and Alexa Adams (both BFA ’02) of Ohne Titel received the Ecco Domani Fashion Fund Award, which included a prize of $25,000 to fund their runway shows.


NEWS & EVENTS 1 Illustration student at the opening of Into the Open 2 Bill Menking, Tim Marshall, Laetitia Wolff, Aaron Levy at Into the Open 3 Students at opening of Into the Open 4 Karen Peterson, Simon Collins, and Kay Unger

Into the Open, an exhibition and symposium to revisit the role of architecture in civic life.

5 Francisco Costa and Leighton Meester 6 Dree Hemingway and Poppy Delevingne 7 Student Virginia Burris presents her work 8 Mike Furey and Italo Zucchelli 9 Matt Soar and Cameron Tonkinwise at Design on Film 1



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Spring Fashion Benefit Pre-party (left), at Calvin Klein. Design on Film, cohosted by MA Decorative Arts & Design (right).



ART IN THE CARIBBEAN Thursday, July 24, 2008

Last summer in the Dominican Republic, eight students broke through significant creative and cultural barriers, thanks to an actual wall. Four undergraduates from Parsons and four from Altos de Chavón, a sister school, spent two weeks learning the symbolic, collaborative, exuberant practice of street art under the guidance of Illustration faculty member Daniel Weise. The result was a public mural—163 feet long and 8 feet high—on a wall surrounding a convent and school. The finished mural demonstrates the hard skills the students picked up from the street artist’s trade—such as making big drippy brushes from shoe polish applicators and using cardboard stencils for repeating patterns and discovering the hardware store as art supply heaven—as well as the conceptual consensus and cooperative groove they developed as a team seeking to bridge language and other differences.

Day 9 & 10: Lots of progress has been made over the last 2 days and nothing has been able to stop us. Not even a torrential downpour that left the part of town we are painting in under water and all of our stencils soggy could stop us. http://


Photography has a profound role in shaping the understanding of place for both the viewer and the image-makers. It simultaneously communicates literal understanding and deeply subjective impressions. Simone Douglas, Project Director






In January 2008, six photography students from Parsons and four from Sydney College of the Arts, the University of Sydney, began the radically collaborative research project Exquisite Corpse, in which they used photography and other media to respond to the city, as insiders and outsiders. The project started with a three-week intensive residency in New York, continued by mail and over the Internet, and resumed in Sydney, where students from the two schools were reunited for another three-week intensive. At the start in New York, the students were divided into three intercultural teams, each of which formulated and began to create a project based on an assigned text and theme. The teams then exchanged themes and works-inprogress until, by the end of the project, all three teams had inherited each theme and transformed each piece of work. Over time, the lines between the groups blurred as the students worked fluidly with one another across the globe. Exhibitions of the project were presented in both cities, featuring an array of photographic images, installations, performances, and other work in which every piece was intrinsically connected to every other.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Strangely, your images could be NYC— and not, as they are also so very Sydney. I think of the endless stretch of suburbs and all those locked screen doors on summer nights, no closed wooden doors, so the wind as it cools in the evening can blow through. All those lives enclosed. I also think of shark nets (winding up New Yorkers). How can you address the idea of beauty enclosed? I throw this open to ideas and comments especially to the Sydney siders. Exquisitely posted at 12:17 AM

FIRST ASSIGNMENT CAPTURE NEW YORK IN A SINGLE WORD “With only 24 hours to respond, the group gelled quickly. ‘Music’ and ‘overwhelming’ were two of our words and ‘sound space’ was our concept. We created an installation to echo the sounds of the City.… My work has changed almost entirely, using the concepts of installation and space much more broadly. My process has also changed as a result of interacting with the other students, all of whom had so many different interests and ways of practicing art.” —Amy Giese, Parsons MFA student

See more of the Exquisite Corpse at:

Exquisite Corpse was made possible by the University of Sydney International Program Development Fund and the generous support of Sydney College of the Arts and Parsons The New School for Design.




Rolling Stone named AAS Interior Design faculty member Mitch Joachim among “The 100 People Who Are Changing America.” The co-founder and partner of Terrefuge was also on WIRED magazine’s 2008 list of 15 People the Next President Should Listen To. Product Design faculty member Andrea Ruggiero (BFA ’95) and Jeff Miller designed the diamond-shaped bike rack on Astor Place, a finalist in the international CityRacksNYC competition. Ruggiero got two Good Design Awards and a silver IDEA. El Play, the first film directed by communication design faculty member Pablo A. Medina, won Best Documentary Short Film at the Urban World Film Festival in New York last fall. The film tells the stor y of Dominican baseball player Juan Candelario. Lenore Malen, a Fine Arts faculty member, received a NYFA grant for The Animal That I Am. The film was part of an exhibition on Malen’s project Harmony as a Hive, exploring the relationship of bees and humans. Leslie Hewitt of the Fine Arts faculty received a Radcliffe Fellowship for 2009–2010.


Alison Lewis, digital designer and adjunct faculty member, published Switch Craft: Battery-Powered Crafts to Make and Sew, which includes LED-decorated clothing, pillows with mobile headsets, and Wi-Fiseeking laptop bags. MArch program director David Leven and faculty member Stella Betts published Leven Betts: Pattern Recognition, a work featuring 18 projects of their firm. They were recently awarded the New York Architectural League’s Emerging Voices Award. The e-book of associate professor of product design Robert Kirkbride’s awardw i n n i n g d i s s e r t a t i o n , A r c h i t e c t u re and Memor y, is available online at Fine Arts chair Coco Fusco’s newly released French-language edition of A Field Guide for Female Interrogators explores female sexual aggression in the war on terror.


In a new textbook, Digital Modeling for Urban Design, Architectural Design faculty member Brian McGrath explores the wideranging possibilities of digital modeling to create interactive 3D drawings for use by students, professionals, and civic leaders. Jackie Brookner published Urban Rain, a book about her recently completed installations in San Jose, California, that capture and filter stormwater runoff. David J. Lewis and his partners in LTL published a monograph, Lewis. Tsurumaki. Lewis: Opportunistic Architecture, that demonstrates the use of constraints and limitations as catalysts for innovation.


Brian Tolle is one of 30 artists chosen by the American Academy of Arts and Letters for its Invitational Exhibition of Visual Arts. Tolle was honored by Mayor Bloomberg and the Public Design Commission last fall for his work to revive the public plaza that once stood at the foot of the Manhattan Bridge. Ward Shelley’s work was included in the recent exhibition Burning Down the House: Building a Feminist Art Collection at the Brooklyn Museum. Sound Wave by Jean Shin, a tsunami made from partially melted LPs, was part of Second Lives: Remixing the Ordinary, the inaugural exhibit celebrating the new location of the Museum of Arts and Design.


AAS program directors Tamara Albu (Fashion Studies) and Katarzyna Gruda (Graphic Design), spoke at Dar Al-Hekma College in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, this spring. Cynthia Lawson, a digital artist and assistant professor of integrated design, was a speaker at Electronics Alive, an exhibit of experimental animation, interactive digital work, and computer graphics in Tampa. Linnaea Tillett, faculty member and principal of Tillett Lighting Design, addressed the Illuminating Engineering Society of NYC’s Ninth Annual Audible Light Exhibition. Angie Waller, Product Design faculty member and co-founder of the negativebonding site, spoke on antisocial networking in Los Angeles.


In The New School’s directory, he is listed as Andy Bichlbaum, assistant professor of Design in Subversion. Outside of Parsons, he has made several names for himself as half of the Yes Men, an activist art team that practices “identity correction”— appearing in the guise of fictitious corporate leaders at real public events. Bichlbaum gave the keynote address at Canada’s largest oil industr y conference as ExxonMobil executive Shepard Wolff, advocating a new fuel source made from the human casualties of climate change. On air with the BBC, faux Dow Chemical spokesman Jude Finisterra took full responsibility on behalf of the company for the Bhopal disaster. At a LexisNexis conference, “Fred Wolf” of Halliburton demonstrated an inflatable suit called the SurvivaBall that would protect corporate managers from natural disasters arising from global warming. On November 12, 2008, Bichlbaum, fellow Yes Man Mike Bonanno, and a network of volunteers published and distributed 1.2 million free copies of a “special edition” of the New York Times. It reported the end of the Iraq war; the passage of universal health-care legislation; the introduction of free tuition at public universities; and a rebirth of nationwide grassroots advocacy as the source of these and other changes. Inside, readers are reminded that the “events” reported could come to pass, “but only if millions of us demand it.” The Yes Men Fix the World, a new film by and about the duo, recently won the Audience Award at the Berlin International Film Festival.



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colloquium and 24-hour student workshop focusing on imminent threats to local, regional, and global infrastructure. Fueled by discussions with faculty across The New School, students worked in teams to create physical and virtual works and performance pieces exploring infrastructure collapse and ways of preventing, responding to, or accelerating it. Works-in-progress were exhibited in the Aronson Gallery from March 6 to March 12. Final presentations explored issues related to water contamination, conspiratorial media campaigns, and the wanton consumption of natural resources. The slam was hosted by Robert Kirkbride of Parsons’ School of Constructed Environments and Shannon Mattern, assistant professor of media studies at The New School for General Studies.

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FEATURE New Contexts on the Edge At a time of worldwide economic meltdown, urban sprawl, and ecological peril, knowledge is the hot commodity. In marketing jargon, it’s the new “capital” or “competitive advantage” for post-industrial societies transitioning to a service-based economy as they seek sustainable solutions for survival. But our information-based societies have yet to contend with the shifting paradigm of what constitutes a good education. To prepare students to face these new complexities, education must become more interdisciplina r y, a d a p t a b l e , a n d pragmatic. Even as the notion persists that a liberal arts degree is a mark of distinction and the key to a bright future, it is becoming clear that an education that primarily prepares students to think broadly and critically may not be enough anymore. “How useful are general studies at a time of environmental and economic crisis?” some ask. The critical state of the systems on which people depend (from health care to the financial markets, from cities to

planet Earth itself) calls for practical knowledge that transcends the traditional boundaries between disciplines. For this process of recovery, a prescient kind of design is what fits the bill, which raises the question: Is design the new liberal arts, or is design meaningful only when it is paired with the liberal arts? As design becomes increasingly pervasive in today’s culture and marketplace, what position should it occupy in our general education? Parsons is at the helm of this exploration.

and across” design approach. The school focuses on professional design practices not directly concerned with the making of objects: management, client and stakeholder relations, business strategies, and process. Parsons’ programs challenge traditional modes of inquiry and propose new methods of learning, often research- and studiobased, that go beyond the existing design disciplines’ repertoire. Design is no longer just a vocational, trade-oriented activity driven by industry, as described in Parsons’ founding mission, but rather a methodology with potential application to almost any kind of problem—the focus has shifted from object to process or system. And design school isn’t just for art students anymore. Design education now fosters design thinkers as well as makers—those who know when and how to acquire the knowledge they will need to confront increasingly complex conditions. “The attempt to design for sustainability has brought a previously nascent quality of design into prominence, the organization of multidisciplinary en-

Design is no longer just a tradeoriented activity but a methodology with potential application to almost any kind of problem. Let’s be real: Design can’t fix everything, but its recent shift from the sidelines to the center has expanded its role and transformed the way it is taught. Through its School of Design Strategies, Parsons is pioneering a new kind of design education that directly responds to contexts of uncertainty with a series of programs emphasizing an “around


COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT Graphic The building plan uses to best advantage the Mississippi riverfront and the historic characteristics of the neighborhood, offering green space, recreational areas, and landscape architecture, along with on-site medical and day care facilities.

Challenge: To design an affordable housing development in a New Orleans district that suffered substantial damage in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Parsons Team: Students from the Schools of Design Strategies and Constructed Environments.


Partners: Volunteers for America; graduate students and faculty from Milano The New School for Management and Urban Policy.

Outcome: After spending a semester analyzing the site’s demographics, transportation systems, and building locations, students developed an innovative and financially workable plan.

Their proposal was chosen as a finalist in a nationwide competition in which the winning team receives a $25,000 grant from JPMorgan Chase for implementation of its plan.

gagement with complex issues and problems, especially those that cannot be ‘solved’ in a linear sense, only iteratively improved over time and place,” writes former Parsons Dean and New School Provost Tim Marshall in “Designing Design Education,” the cover story of the German magazine Form (January 2009). In recent years, the role of design has expanded dramatically to include addressing changing social and economic contexts and faltering political institutions in need of major reform. The place of design has also shifted with the growth of organizations that nurture human interaction rather than producing goods. (Have you signed up for Facebook yet?) National conversations responding to the call to service and atmosphere of hope ushered in by the Obama administration have prominently featured design and designers. Historically, most design clients were commercial entities with little interest in the long-term effects of their projects. With government agencies and nonprofit organizations recognizing the need to plan for sustainability, design now contends with a new kind of commitment, which is changing the design process and the role of the designer. This puts a new spin on the idea of time-based design.

The Transformation of the Designer’s Role It’s always been part of designers’ DNA to learn on the spot about a given client’s market, but they now face additional challenges. The sheer scale of design intervention has changed the designer’s role from a notion of leadership into a more collaborative, horizontal, and authorless process, where he or she has to learn how to leverage various parties’ points of views and orchestrate them strategically to find viable solutions. As a result, today’s creative professional has become less an expert than a mediator, or facilitator. Last February, Metropolis magazine published IDEO’s “Ten Tips for Creating a 21st-Century Classroom Experience,” an article in which this idea is discussed. IDEO, a global consultancy generally considered the bellwether of the shift from “design making” to “design thinking,” offered the following advice: “Stop calling them ‘soft skills.’ Talents such as creativity, collaboration, communication, empathy, and adaptability are not just nice to have; they’re the core capabilities of a 21st-century global economy facing complex challenges.” The term “capabilities” rather than “skills” implies a much more dynamic understanding of the new (dis)order. Capability is the ability to acquire a skill that one might not necessarily have already. It reflects a changing world in which nothing is set in stone, where fluidity, agility, and a certain humility are essential to both survival and practice. Advice to young designers: Keep things in perspective and get down from your ivory tower; you don’t know what tomorrow’s job will be—or how many jobs you’ll have down the road. Joel Towers, dean of the School of Design Strategies, says, “Our program is capabilitybased, because we are training students for [situations in which] we don’t quite know what the needed skills will be. It’s about bringing versatile capabilities of visualization, of imagination, of looking at problems differently. That’s what our school is really about.” This kind of flexibility, traditionally associated with the liberal arts generalist, may define the designer of the future.

“Designers are not used to being in this center position. ‘I’m a radical/ nerd/outsider’ cannot be an excuse anymore. Being creative no longer is what solely defines a designer. Understand your surroundings, the power you wield in design, the impact of what you make.”

JEFF NG, ’97

Communication Design and Technology Alum/Design Strategies faculty Ng (aka Jeff Staple) was among 25 top young American entrepreneurs invited to meet with senior officials from the Obama administration to discuss ways to pull the country out of recession.

“The problems we face in the 21st century are complex and often entrenched. They cannot be solved by any one discipline, and thus the future is one of interdisciplinary work rather than the rise of any discipline in isolation.” Hilary Cottam is a social entrepreneur whose recent projects include community health services designed jointly with users, a radical rethink of the prison system, and a new design for schools of the 21st century.


“The service structure of design professions obstructs the potential for design to be the liberal arts of the 21st century—that is, unless you radically reconceive and redesign the client. Without that, you are only as interesting as your client.” Natalie Jeremijenko heads the Environmental Health Clinic at NYU.

From think tank to “do tank” * Design and design education are intricately linked; it is impossible to assess the state of the design profession without thinking about how one becomes a good designer. The School of Design Strategies pushes this idea even further. “Design structures our lives, interactions, consumption, democratic and governmental processes, and so on, to such a degree that a basic comprehension of how design ‘works’ should be required as part of a general education,” states Tim Marshall in the Form article. This idea, relatively new to Americans, has been embraced in Europe for centuries. For instance, a great number of students in Italy study architecture in college as the framework for a classical education. “I have always understood this rationale, since it also shaped the foundation of ecumenical and multidisciplinary training in the Renaissance,” says green architect and University of Pennsylvania professor of architecture James Wines. Parsons’ ongoing objective is to foster a new generation of designer-citizens: productive, engaged, inventive businesspeople, policy makers, and community activists, many of whom

also make beautiful and useful things. The hallmarks of a liberal arts education— critical thinking, civic and historical knowledge, and ethical reasoning—are certainly instrumental in the training of a good designer. But the liberal arts have traditionally explored the meaning of being human, not necessarily the place of humans in their environment, which is where design and design thinking take the lead. “There’s a greater sense today that we need to find ways of not only thinking and reflecting on the world but also diving in and rolling up our sleeves. Design is perfectly positioned for that sort of intervention in the world,” says Jamer Hunt, director of the new Transdisciplinary Design Program. Innovation plays a crucial role in devising new pedagogical models for higher education. The MFA programs being developed at Parsons incorporate a number of these models. Classes are structured as long-term projects, making learners active participants or “co-producers” in the educational process. The objective is to develop critically engaged design students. “The models we are used to in the social sciences are theoretical, in contrast to those in design, which are

* T he term “Do Tank” comes from Hilary Cottam’s Do Tank Ltd organization.



Challenge: To develop services to help previously incarcerated individuals re-enter society and build fulfilling lives. Parsons Team: Students from the School of Design Strategies, led by faculty member Lara Penin, with Savitri Lopez-Negrete and Shana Agid.

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Graphic Mapping CO2 emissions in Long Island City, NY. (Diagram by Fidelma Hawley)

Partner: The Fortune Society, a nonprofit organization that offers services such as health care, career development, education, housing, family support, and counseling.

Outcome: Students explored ways to improve existing services and design new ones, using methods such as ethnographic research and “culture hunts” to analyze the urban fabric around the Fortune Society facility in Long Island City, Queens.

Final outcomes will vary according to the nature of the new service and may include websites, brochures, space and environment design, protocols, and events.

FEATURE project-oriented, have a shorter time frame, involve collaboration, and serve different interests,” says Hugh Raffles, chair of Anthropology at The New School for Social Research and co-chair of the Design and Social Sciences Initiative, “but I’m hesitant to think of design independently as the solution. I’d rather think about different approaches, design being one of them.”

petition, Ben Lee, former New School provost (2006–2008) and now senior vice president for International Affairs, spearheaded an effort to rethink the liberal arts. The curriculum proposed replaces majors and minors—traditional components of a liberal arts education—with collaborative projects. Lee describes this curriculum as

Conclusion: 360-DEGREE pathways for The strategic designer Curiosity, the ability to integrate ideas and collaborate with people, resourcefulness, lateral thinking: These are some of the qualities and capabilities an unpredictable world requires of the problem solver of tomorrow. Says Cameron Tonkinwise, chair of Design Thinking at Parsons, “We are educating designers who can actually begin to be social entrepreneurs and not just the providers of a product for somebody else to commercialize. With business acumen and design thinking skills, they are strategic in that they don’t just come up with the theme; they come up with the system that is going to sustain and proliferate the theme and actually have an impact on the world.”

Parsons’ ongoing objective is to foster a new generation of designer-citizens.

To alleviate a Manichean view of design versus liberal arts education, porosity between the disciplines is vital to the future of design education. A university context as rich as that offered by The New School can provide fluidity, enabling designers to holistically combine critical thinking and practical activity—the best of both worlds. Inspired by the interdisciplinary model of the JPMorgan Chase Community Development Design Com-


Challenge: To help members of the public understand the role they play in the water sustainability crisis and give policy makers access to research data specific to their areas.

“an alternative to the standard disciplinebased model of undergraduate education, which can no longer prepare students to deal with the complexity of our globalizing world.”

Graphic World map interface enabling users to compare water consumption internationally.

Parsons Team: Students and faculty from the School of Art, Media, and Technology; the Parsons Institute for Information Mapping (PIIM).

Partners: NYU’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service; partner organizations in Senegal, Ecuador, and Ghana.

Outcome: After conducting policy research and gathering data, students proposed an interactive Web-enabled reference tool to provide users with information on water usage in 250 nations.



YOUR STORY   YOUR ART I grew up in the 1940s in Pelham Parkway, the



CBX COLEMAN WORLDWIDE PARTNERSHIP Since the last issue of re:D, the world has undergone some dramatic, sudden changes. These “realignments” affect how we think about the world as a whole—the economy, the environment, and education, to name a few. Some shifts open new career pathways for Parsons alumni. Others confirm that Parsons’ commitment to design excellence and values like collaborative practice serve its graduates well in times of change. Either case suggests that in the evolving workplace, a design education is more relevant now than ever. This new feature will highlight that view in the context of a Parsons graduate’s work life. These pages chart the career of Owen Coleman ’58, a graduate of the Graphic Design program who responded enthusiastically to our call for submissions. The creative brief: to illustrate one’s career trajectory or recount it for us to depict. Coleman, a seasoned designer, proposed his story, full of drama and passion for his pursuits. He envisioned his life as a game of skill and chance, shown at right. This version surrounds Coleman’s biography with takeaway points that sum up his career and philosophy on life. To learn more about Owen Coleman’s work, check out Parsons alumni work in a surprising array of fields. We are eager to hear about your career paths and work with you on a “pathway” feature for a future issue of re:D. Interested? Please send an email to 1 1949: Me, in front of our apartment on Bronx Park East, hoping that bully Marty Slutsky doesn’t see me in this outfit and punch me in the stomach. 2 1970s 3 1957: Christmas party for Parsons Graphic Design graduating class.




Bronx, the eldest son of two talented musicians. Grandpa Morris ran a small grocery, and Grandma Sadie took care of my sister and me while Mom and Dad worked. From an early age, I was fascinated by art, and my parents sent me to classes at the Art Students League when I was nine. After attending the NY High School of Music & Art, I was thrilled to be accepted to Parsons to study graphic design. I remember the excitement of leaving my apartment to experience the electricity of Manhattan and Parsons, then located on 54th Street near Sutton Place. Then, as now, classes included an interesting mix of people. People fresh from high school and returning GIs worked under inspiring teachers like James Frangides and John Russo. I made a few lifelong friendships there and developed an eye for good design. In retrospect, I wish I’d devoted more time to liberal arts studies. I never anticipated how valuable those subjects would be in my business roles. Something that I did know would be valuable was the lesson I learned in a Parsons lecture by legendary art director Leo Leoni. Famous for his Fortune covers, he taught us that excellence in design is 10% talent and 90% hard work. Hard work fuels the passion to create great design. Graduating from Parsons in 1958, I planned to become an art director in an ad agency. I started at a small package design firm run by tyrannical brothers who had a habit of hiring young art school graduates and squeezing the blood out of them. Saying that I didn’t belong in the package design business, the owners fired me after 11 months. Unemployed, I knocked on doors; three days later, I was hired by Ward Hooper, art director at JC Penney & Co., who mentored me as I built a strong print design portfolio. In 1961, I met Ira Schwartz, who had started his own cosmetic packaging studio. Ira’s company had a fast-paced, creative environment where every new project was launched with a bottle of vintage champagne. Our design team worked hard for clients like Revlon, Fabergé, Clairol, and Squibb Olin Matheson. After four years, at 24, I was offered a 10% equity interest in the company at no charge. I turned down the opportunity to be Ira’s protégé. The equity offer was great, but the agreement was confining. I was fired six months later by Ira’s new senior partner. I left confident, knowing the value I brought to the design industry even though I’d been fired and was looking for work again. I had a thicker skin, a flair for selling, and was a good designer who understood the business. In 1964, I began working for Irving Werbin Associates, an agency serving the beverage and beauty industries. I told Irv I was going to make a cold sales call on Hoffmann-La Roche in New Jersey. He was stunned that I would cross the river to talk to a potential client when all his accounts were two blocks away. Hoffmann-La Roche gave us a big vitamin design project, which by the year’s end brought in more than $75,000 in fees, thereby increasing by 50% Irving’s business of 15 years.

I opened my own design firm in 1966 with a friend from high school, Marvin Maslow. A small studio on 52nd Street was our company’s first home. Business on our own was tough at first; I remember coming to work daily with butterflies in my stomach. Yet we ended the first year with respectable revenue and the second year with more than twice the earnings and a fair amount of profit. The third year surpassed the first two, and we found ourselves unable to manage the growth on our own. Client and friend Sal LiPuma bought into the partnership, and in 1969, Coleman, LiPuma & Maslow was formed. A memorable project was a revolutionary redesign of the Sanka packaging for General Foods. At a time when all of Sanka’s competitors were using illustration, Maslow photographed my wife and our accountant for the front panel and used a beauty

A friend and client of many years, Frank Cella of Nestlé, suggested that Interpublic Group (IPG) consider acquiring our firm. In 1995, The Coleman Group was sold, and 49% of the company’s shares remained with me and two younger, excellent design and marketing partners. IPG was flying high, and I had the chutzpah to propose building a Coleman Worldwide Network by acquiring the best design firms from around the world. This project was probably the most fun I had in my career. For two and a half years, I traveled the world with my buddy and colleague Steve Merry. It was a dream to partner with these firms, whose designers’ work I’d admired for years at the International Clio Awards. Bringing in talent that exceeds one’s own only improves the team. It was stressful but worthwhile, and making people wealthy seemed like a cool thing to do, especially given that I grew up as a poor kid in the Bronx. Eventually IPG formed a new company called FutureBrand. The Coleman Group gave the new division a foothold in 18 countries, but the mood had changed politically and I was unhappy. Bottom line, the FutureBrand folks didn’t want to embrace a true partnership. Luckily, I received a good payout for my shares just before the advertising market crashed in 2002.

shot on the back panel. Today, such radical changes in design require quantitative research, but at the time, our idea needed the blessing of only the wife of General Foods’ CEO. (Her bridge club was our focus group!) Sometimes running counter to the prevailing style is key. In the late seventies, Maslow left the firm, and we reorganized to focus on growth, under the name Coleman, LiPuma, Segal & Morrill. By the 1980s, it seemed computers would revolutionize the design industry, so I embraced the technology and talked my conservative partners into buying a $180,000 LightSpeed computer. In 1984, with the press as witnesses, we gave a LightSpeed remote design presentation from New York to London. We experimented with interactive digital brand asset management, pioneering computer-assisted design at a time when the ad agencies hadn’t even touched the medium. After some years, my interest in expanding the business outpaced that of my partners, so I suggested that my partners retire and I buy them out.

IPG allowed me to take the retail group, which we renamed GroupRed (now CBX Retail). During this period, I’d kept in touch with many friends in the U.S. and around the world who wanted to be independent. After a year, Account Director Gregg Lipman, Creative Director Rick Barrack, and I formed the CBX Colemanbrandworx New York office. Former associates Nancy Brown and Harvey Hunerberg soon followed, partnering with us in Minnesota and San Francisco and bringing projects from longtime clients such as General Mills, Johnson & Johnson, and Nestlé, who value our work, personal relationships, and vision. We now have 9 CBX Coleman alliance partners worldwide and have developed a country exchange program for our designers to build global design skills and awareness. In 2008, we had an exciting success: being selected from among 30 design firms by Petro China, the third-largest company in the world, to develop their consumer brand strategy and design for 18,000 convenience stores across China. Returning from a business trip to China, I predicted that a sizable portion of our growth would come from China within the next five to ten years. We recently completed the Petro China store design, as well as the brand, merchandising, training, and private label image. The word “retire” is not in my vocabulary. I still get a big kick out of the business, and as long as I have fun, I’ll stay with it! As the business grows, the challenge is having partners with different personalities and personal goals. Fortunately, people skills are still one of my best assets, and Parsons is where I nurtured these skills at the beginning.

Dance with Owen!




FEATURE Lucille Tenazas had barely arrived at Parsons before she was telling her students to get lost. It is a challenge that Tenazas, the school’s first Henry Wolf Professor of Communication Design and Technology, has assigned with all good intent for the past couple of decades—ever since her approach to teaching became as welldefined in her own mind as her imprint on graphic design had already become throughout the world. Teaching design, she realized, was not about art directing in an academic environment. Her role as teacher was to help each student develop a distinct, authentic voice and a comfort with the new and different that would continually add range and nuance to that voice. She explains, “I realized that when you’re an educator, it’s not about you, it’s about them. It’s about how they find their way according to their vision. So I started creating these projects that deal with how you pick what your process is and how you get thrown off. How do you get lost and know you don’t have the answer, but trust yourself to find the answer?” One of these is the “lost and found” project. She instructs her students to walk or drive to a random point exactly ten minutes from home, in the opposite direction from their normal route. Just across the perimeter of daily routine, the safe fog of habit disappears. The aspects of self in survival mode that emerge to observe, navigate, assimilate, and understand this unknown place might show up in a book or a film or a series of posters expressing the student’s experience as the newcomer.

Those definitive traits of character and echoes of personal history also become the reliable core of the designer’s unique identity. This participatory way of relating to new situations and environments is the basis of Tenazas’s frequent lecture theme of the designer as cultural nomad. “When a designer is confronted with an unknown territory, how do they equip themselves to appreciate this culture that is not their own?” asks Tenazas. “If you’re a designer

with “L,” the boys’ with “A.” It made an impression. The thoughtful orchestration of the elements of language would become the trademark of her work as a designer. With a degree in Fine Arts but a penchant for the interactive nature of design, she left Manila for San Francisco in 1979 to study at California College of the Arts, and soon moved on to graduate school at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan. It was there that her craftsmanship and eloquent manipulation of type “began to explode,” as she describes it. English had been the language of strict parochial s c ho ol d r i l l s; now she could play with it, taking free rein with its semiotic malleability in relation to its typographic form. Yet it was not only in her design exercises that Tenazas showed an uncanny literal command over the written word. During a career workshop at Cranbrook, the students were asked to write down the age and year to which they thought they would live and a roster of accomplishments they might rack up by that date. Lucille decided she would reach 90. Her list was very specific and wildly ambitious. She put it away. In the early 1980s, Tenazas headed for New York in the dead of winter and the depths of an economic downturn. After 65 encouraging but fruitless job interviews, she was finally offered a position

If anyone can broker the ideal marriage between technology and master craftsmanship, it is Lucille Tenazas. and your potential client is a writer or a businessman, they are from a different culture. How do they know that you get them? As a designer, you will always be put in the position where you have to respond to somebody else’s needs or problems. If you’re aware of who you are, then you can ultimately take on the identities and problems others may pose and not lose your own.” Tenazas grew up in the Philippines, where holding one’s own amid the influence of other cultures is a given. When she and her siblings were asked to choose a name for the last child in the family, Lucille realized that her civil engineering father had a system: All of their names had seven letters, the girls’ beginning


By Lindy Regan 17


Parsons the New School for Design School of Art, Media and Technology Presents

KarinFong Director and Designer

Karin Fong directs and designs for film, television, and environments. She received her B.A. in art from Yale College in 1993. In 1994, she moved to Los Angeles and became one of the original members of production and design company Imaginary Forces. She now works out of its New York studio. She has designed sequences for numerous feature films, including the main titles of Ray, Charlotte’s Web, The Truman Show, and The Pink Panther 2. Her work in broadcast has earned her an Emmy award for main title design. Karin directs television commercials, counting Target, Chevrolet, Herman Miller, and Honda among her clients. Other projects include designing for large-scale environments that range from Las Vegas to the Los Angeles Opera. Her work has appeared in the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, The Pasadena Museum of California Art, The Wexner Center, and in numerous publications on design and film.



with a tiny firm. But the creative freedom and support Tenazas received from her bosses at Harmon Kemp would have an enormous effect on her future. “There were very few design magazines at the time. One of them—ID magazine—would have their design review and for two years in a row, our firm, which was all of three people, dominated the awards, so that in a single issue maybe 90% was ours. Finally the editor called and said, ‘Who is this Harmon Kemp? How come this firm is winning all these awards? Who’s designing all this?’ and I said, ‘Actually, I am.’ And he said, ‘Who are the other designers?’ and I said, ‘Actually, I’m the one.’ Word went out; high-profile work came in. In 1985, she returned to CCA, this time to teach and refine her “vital curriculum” of ideas, methodologies, and projects that remains the framework for the school’s graduate program in design. Married to photographer Richard Barnes and raising sons Maximilian and Raphael, she established her own firm, Tenazas Design, in San Francisco, and settled in for an uncharacteristic 20-year stay. Still, she was blazing trails: In 1996 she became president of the AIGA, the organization’s first national leader outside of New York and the second woman to hold the position; in 1998 she became one of the few Americanbased members of the Alliance Graphique Internationale; and in 2002, she received t h e N a t i on a l D e s i g n Aw a r d f o r Communication Design from the CooperHewitt, National Design Museum. When Richard’s work took them to Rome in 2005, Lucille wondered how she could continue to evolve and innovate in such ancient surroundings. Inspired by

Previous page Detail, proposed poster (back panel) for the School of Constructed Environments, Parsons The New School for Design, 2009 Top Exhibition Poster for To Infinity and Beyond: Mathematics in Contemporary Art, Heckscher Museum of Art, NY, 2008 Bottom Karin Fong Lecture Announcement poster (version 1 of 2) Parsons the New School for Design, 2009


centuries-old art everywhere she looked, she started drawing, painting, and making collages. “Using my hands again, I realized I still had it. It was a part of me that I rediscovered. It had never gone away, but being in Rome made it obvious I should see if I could do something with that.” Today, back in New York, the nomad has now come full circle, returning in a new role and with many more layers of experience to the city that first launched her career. Teaching undergraduate thesis classes has been part of her cultural reconnaissance of Parsons. The “something” she felt brewing in Rome has turned out to be a graduate program in Design, Craft and Technology, which is set to begin in the fall of 2009. The courses devised by Tenazas will serve as both ballast and rocket fuel for the next stages of communication design. Tenazas is famous for making connections where none seem to be. If anyone can broker the ideal marriage between technology and master crafts-

manship, between the robotic and the romantic, it is Lucille Tenazas. In these classes where “design is the overarching endeavor, not the technology,” students might use new technologies to plot otherwise impossible feats of tactile design; mix human intuition with artificial intelligence to inject a transcendent resonance into the digital dimension; and invent complex and beautiful cross-platform means of visual expression. It will take some time for Lucille and her colleagues to lock in on exactly what shape the new courses will take. But one thing is certain right now. In her office, Lucille pulls out a piece of loose-leaf paper filled on one side with neat cursive writing. It is that relic of her youthful hopes—the workshop exercise from Cranbrook Academy. She reads each item aloud. It takes a while. She has accomplished every one, with several decades to spare. It is time for Lucille Tenazas to make a new list.

Tyler Johnson ’01 Communication Design Alum

The idea of “designer as cultural nomad” is central to Tyler Johnson’s life and practice. He and his wife, Flavia, moved to her native Brazil in 2005 and started their company, Nomad Ink. “The common thread that has been consistent in our work,” says Tyler, “is exploring culture through a design lens.” Already, they have conducted design projects in Europe and Asia, and Tyler plans to publish a book about their worldwide design journey.

Candice Ralph ’08 Communication Design and Technology Alum

Lost and Found Thesis Project: Narrative Infrastructures Inspired by an interest in the psychogeographical boundaries we adhere to in daily life, Ralph created maps in the forms of the letters of the alphabet, traced along the streets of Manhattan. Then, she walked them, recording her observations and experiences. The result is 26 postcard-sized books she created using a combination of handicraft and new technology, documenting each walk through photographs, found objects, overheard conversations, and dialogues.

Above Narrative Infrastructures by Candice Ralph Left Book cover, “Hothouse: Expanding the Field of Fiber at Cranbrook Academy of Art,” 2008




Make a

World of

Difference... Thanks to the efforts of outstanding volunteers, the Parsons alumni program is really taking off. Alumni are doing incredible work for their alma mater and one another, across the country and across the globe. If you would like to be a volunteer and help build the Parsons alumni program, please contact our office: or 212.229.5662 x3784.

EST, EAST NORTH , SOUTH , W Jenn Poage ’05 coordinates New School get-togethers in Boston for maximum networking potential. Dee MacDonald ’75 and Tom Grooms ’75 of Washington, DC, are building a strong alumni network that of fers career assistance and raises scholarship monies. LA-based alumni Montrese Chandler ’00 and Adam Tankell ’85 are working to involve more alumni in student recruitment and portfolio review. Stephanie Bradshaw ’58 rallied her class for Parsons’ first 50th reunion and for this year’s reunion weekend, Julie Eckert ’03 found the cocktail party venue and Nora Melendez MFA ’03, arranged a tour of the Cooper-Hewitt.

Some of Parsons’ stellar stateside volunteers (left). Volunteers in Japan and South Korea keep Asian alumni well-connected and very busy (below).

HER EAST … AND FART Cheiko Otani recently took over as chair of Parsons Alumni Japan (, an organization that’s been thriving for more than 20 years. Parsons Alumni Association Korea is a fantastic example of a volunteer effort, led by President Hyun Woo Lee ’91 and board members Moon Ho Lee MFA ’93, Joo Ho (Joe) Lee MArch ’96, Danny Kim ’99, Jang Eun Bae MFA ’03, and Sung Woon Kim ’97.


MIAMI, PALM BEACH , L. A. Jimmy Borynack ’67, chairman and CEO of Wally Findlay Galleries, hosted his fellow alumni at cocktail receptions in Palm Beach and Los Angeles. Miami was the locale for a warm and wonderful event where alumni, faculty, and board members including Sheila C. Johnson and the evening’s hostess, Jayne Abess, gathered for a reception.

…and Have a

Blast While They’re at It

Parsons alumni networked in Miami and Los Angeles (right). Alumni get-togethers in New York, Japan, and South Korea (below).

NYC, JAPAN, S. KOREA In New York, alumni and faculty from P ar so ns’ S c ho ol of C o ns t r u c te d Environments socialized at a reception hosted by Häfele America Co. Parsons Alumni Japan extended hospitality to visitors from Parsons New York. And Par sons Alumni A sso ciation Korea coordinated an unforgettable event and exhibition when we visited Seoul this past October, accompanied by Tim Marshall and Simon Collins, dean of Fashion.






“The thing about me,” says Joan Lombardi ’62, “is that I approach every venture as a multilevel thinker, a philosophy I learned at Parsons that has enabled me to cross-pollinate in the visual and performing arts throughout my career.”   Joan first became a graphic designer for Esquire, CBS, and Columbia Records. She switched gears to dance professionally, founding an eponymous modern dance troupe in New York and winning a National Endowment for the Arts grant among other awards for choreography. In the 1980s Joan entered academia, teaching at Parsons and FIT, where she was a full-time professor for 20 years. In 2006, the Renaissance woman moved from New York to Santa Fe, where she practices interior architecture. Joan’s approach to life and work is to layer new interests on top of existing ones. She is currently designing interiors for people on both coasts; creating logos and branding campaigns for nonprofits; and choreographing and teaching dance at Moving People Dance in Santa Fe, and Aspen Santa Fe Ballet School.






Leonardo De Armas ’86 was inspired to create his couture business in Venezuela by his experience at Parsons. “In my student days,” he says, “I had the pleasure to know some of the legendary names of Seventh Avenue, including Donald Brooks, Michael Vollbracht, and Donna Karan, who came to the school to share their time and their wisdom.” These mentors had a profound influence on Leonardo, who now shares his expertise with students at Altos de Chavón, a school affiliated with Parsons, in the Dominican Republic. “Most of these kids come from very poor areas. Without their scholarships they could only dream of going to a school like Altos and having a chance to go on to Parsons. Sometimes in life, we don’t have a clear idea what’s ahead, and I think it’s reassuring for these kids to hear from somebody like me, who has made the leap and survived.”

German-born Kai von Ahlefeld ’93, attended Parsons in both New York and Paris, where he experimented with computer graphics while he majored in fashion design. Working as an assistant to designer Sonia Rykiel in Paris, he recognized the down side of the fashion industr y, which he describes as a “dangerous minefield” characterized by competition with larger houses, 20-hour workdays, and high levels of burnout. While considering career alternatives, Kai met Maria Spahn, an expert in stage design. Together they founded the design studio Überraum, specializing in scenography, 3D visualizations, and video animation for a clientele including artist Jochen Gerz, fashion houses such as Dior, and consumer brands like Louis Vuitton, Nespresso, and Mazda. Kai has also taught fashion design at Parsons Paris for more than ten years. Says Kai, “I think I had the wrong idea when I started: [There are] lots of interesting and profitable jobs in design, and fashion design is just one of them.” Today, Kai has found an artful balance that satisfies his interest in concepts, shows, branding, and spectacle and allows him the creative freedom to pursue his own ideas.





After thirteen years working in a variety of occupations—as a graphic designer, printmaker, photographer, art teacher, and member of the continuing education faculty at Parsons—Wendy Stone ’72 took her career abroad. “I always had an insatiable wanderlust. After a year of travel, I made a portfolio using images from my trip.” Since 1988, Wendy has made Kenya her second home, dividing her time between there and New York ever since. She has gone on to work in more than 20 African countries as a photographer, covering the civil war in Somalia, the “lost boys” of Sudan, and the AIDS pandemic in East Africa. In describing her career, Wendy says, “I have truly lived out my dreams, and I have only touched the surface of all there is to learn about this amazing continent.” Wendy’s first book, Not Alone: Beatrice from Kibera Slum, written in collaboration with Karen Lynn Williams, will be published in 2010.

About one-third of the degree students at Parsons are international, hailing from nearly 68 countries. In 1920, Parsons became the first American art and design school to found a campus abroad.





Don Ryun Chang has played an important role in the world of communications and design since he graduated from Parsons in 1981. After working for several leading companies in South Korea and Hong Kong, Don founded DC&A, a brand identity firm that later merged with Interbrand, an international branding consultancy with a presence in Korea and other major cities. Today, as professor in the Visual Communication Design department at Hongik University in Seoul, Don is influencing the next generation of designers. He also serves as president of the 2007–2009 executive board of the International Council of Graphic Design Associations (Icograda). “When done with integrity, effectiveness, and originality, design provides, at the highest level, economic and sociocultural benefits,” says Don. He understands the pleasure of creating an effective design: “I always try to be evolutionary in integrating my various experiences and knowledge with the transforming media landscape. I strive to approach projects from a fresh frame of mind and incorporate an intelligent design attribute that will foster universal appeal.” 1 United States of America 2 Venezuela 3 France 4 Kenya 5 South Korea





After graduating from Parsons in 2001 with a BFA in Photography, Amy Duquette taught art for a year in a New York City public school, then earned a master’s degree in art therapy. “Art to me is not about making pretty pictures. …It’s having a personal way to externalize what is on the inside. I find it important to do this for myself. As an art therapist, I find it rewarding when I can help my clients to do the same and then to validate the symbols they have created.” In 2008, Amy was asked to run Artist Access, a program that provides healthcare credits to uninsured artists who use their talents—performing music or dance, giving art lessons, creating murals, painting children’s faces—in hospitals. Amy describes Artist Access as “amazing.” “Organizing this program allows me to bring art, music, and dance, which all have healing qualities, into the hospital. It benefits the hospital community and the ar tists receive health care in return. It is a pleasure to help make all this happen.” Artist Access: 877.244.5600




Teacher, sculptor, photographer, cyclist, and inventor Chris Spollen ’74 has an exuberance that defines his personality and his work. Says Chris, “So far, I have had a rich life, and the journey is still ongoing with great bliss.” For the last nine years, Chris has brought his passion and enthusiasm to the classroom, where he teaches young artists computer skills and new ways of seeing the world. “Being around young creatives keeps me vital. It’s a joy to coach the next generation of artists.” When Chris is not teaching, he can often be found creating sculptures from recycled materials, which he photographs on computer-generated backgrounds. Chris has also designed works that are not only aesthetically pleasing but also have a practical purpose: ecofriendly transportation. Together with his brother and a friend who is a retired Bell Labs engineer, Chris has invented several types of human powered vehicles (HPVs). The HPVs designed by the three are essentially bikes with shells offering protection from the weather and enhanced safety on the roads. The Staten Island Museum recently hosted Making Things Go, an exhibition featuring the work of Chris and his collaborators.

In 1991, Rhea Alexander ’87 and her family founded Duchamp’s Irreverent Guiding Spirit, Inc.—better known as DIGS—a design house, design and product development consultancy, and distributor of sustainable high-end home accessories. All DIGS products reflect a commitment to fair trade and fair wages, and ecoconscious manufacturing and economic development, as well as to quality design. “We work with by-product stone from the building industry in Cairo, reclaimed organic cotton by-product from India, woods from Peru that have been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, and wrought iron forged by the Amish. … When we manufacture high tech, we look for the cleanest, most green makers and processes.” Before DIGS, Rhea worked on a variety of high-profile architecture and product design projects in New York and Milan. In the 1990s, Rhea taught for the Small Business Support Project offered through the U.S. Agency for International Development and at Parsons The New School for Design. Parsons students or alumni who create home furnishings from sustainable materials and are interested in working with DIGS can contact Rhea directly at



Stephanie Zelman ’94, along with 12 friends who attended a girls’ high school together, recently launched Forgirlsake, a nonprofit dedicated to providing education for girls around the world. “We feel strongly about helping girls,” Stephanie explains, “because in many parts of the world, women are not considered full members of society and therefore are unable to make positive contributions. Educating girls, alongside boys, is a way to build healthier populations and faster-growing economies and to pave the way to a more equitable and secure world.” Stephanie attributes the organization’s success in part to her experience as a designer. “I didn’t know how to start a nonprofit, but I know how to design. We needed a name and a website to get started. Another founder came up with the name, and I went to work developing the identity with students at the Art Institute of Boston, where I teach.” In the last two years, 16 Ugandan recipients of scholar ships from Forgirlsake have started high school. Stephanie says, “Building a nonprofit with friends is much more gratifying than writing a check to an organization.”

Parsons students and alumni are making headlines and winning awards for their forward-thinking, sociallyconscious designs. Not only are they creating beautiful, sought-after products, but their work is addressing some of today’s most formidable problems.



“I chose to focus on breast cancer because it’s in my family and also so widespread. My goal with Chikara is to offer more options for women living in a post-surgery body.” As a BFA Product Design student at Parsons, Hilary Boyajian ’05 wanted to combine her interests in women’s health issues with fashion and product design. She was particularly struck by the plight of breast cancer patients and survivors. Women who are not candidates for reconstructive surgery or find prosthetics impractical, she discovered, have difficulty finding wellfitting clothing, let alone clothes that are contemporary or sexy. To address this need, Hilary began designing post-mastectomy apparel as part of her thesis, a project which evolved into her clothing line, Chikara. Using the idea of an “external prosthesis,” Hilary employs draping techniques and embellishments to create flattering and functional clothing. But Hilary’s work is more than practical; it is driven by inspiration and the desire to make women feel beautiful. In Japanese, Chikara means strength, power, and energy. As her website states, “Hilary is inspired by all things in nature, where perfect symmetry does not exist, … and above all, the innate strength of women.”


STAYING CONNECTED Above Ryan Germick Right Dan Redding

Welcome to “Connected,” a new department spotlighting ongoing, reignited, or newly forged relationships and collaborations between alumni or alumni and current members of the Parsons community. The following interview between BA/BFA alumni Dan Redding ’03 and Ryan Germick ’03 first appeared in longer form on Dan’s blog ( Send your suggestions for future “Connected” alumni stories to




GOOGLE Dan Redding: What is your job title and place of employment? Ryan Germick: I’m a Web designer at Google. But really, I don’t do any Web design; now I’m more of an illustrator. DR: There was a book published recently called What Would Google Do? Let’s settle this once and for all: what would Google do? RG: (Laughter) Google would organize the world’s information and make it universally useful and accessible. That’s the mission statement—like, verbatim. Sorry. I’ve drunk the Kool-Aid. (Laughter) And they wouldn’t do it in an evil way! DR: That’s the Google motto I’ve heard quoted, right? “Don’t be evil?” RG: Yeah, I think they’re pretty legit about it. I think at the top of the company there is good in the hearts of the ones running it.


DR: Is the CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt, a nice guy? RG: I think so! He said my video was the funniest thing on the planet. So we’re totally cool. It was really flattering. (See Ryan as the Google Street View man here: DR: Google has a search robot named Googlebot. Have you ever met him? RG: (Laughter) I’m not at liberty to discuss. But I will say, it was consensual. DR: You have drawn some of the Google holiday illustrations that can be seen on the homepage periodically. What does it feel like to have your drawing viewed by more people than one can fathom in every nook and cranny on the Earth? RG: I don’t think about it that way. I guess I don’t take the drawings very personally so I try to have fun with them. I kind of keep quiet about it; it’s just part of my job. I’m really grateful that I get paid to draw. DR: What do you think is the future of Web design? RG: I think the future is going to be information-dense, lightweight, a lot of information through things like RSS, getting things on the go….

DR: Things are getting too small: a favicon, an emoticon, and a 140-character Tweet ... RG: Basically the future of Web design is gonna be on a little tiny screen. In regard to Twitter, I don’t get it, exactly, but I know people are into it. I’m visual, so I like Flickr; I like having photos and comics and stuff that people do. It’s really cool that a site like Flickr has everything universally formatted, and I can have RSS feeds for it. It’s not the prettiest presentation, but it’s so efficient that you’re basically mainlining information. And that’s where it’s at and that’s where it’ll stay. … Tons of information all the time. And if you can set it up in an efficient, lightweight way, then you can really get your fix. DR: What is the most important thing you learned in design school? RG: Time management skills and life balance are really good things to have. DR: There are a few quotes from Parsons professors that still ring through my head quite often. Like when Viktor Koen told me, “You say you love type, now it’s time to make love to type.” Do you have any quotes that you are often reminded of?

RG: Yeah, there was this professor Richard Waxberg, he was awesome. He said three things that I remember very distinctly. He was the first person to use the word gestalt that I knew of. He talked a lot about the overall feeling of something. It’s like another way of saying, does it work or not? But gestalt is so much more German and nice. I like saying that. He also said that you have to take things on their own terms. That concept is the basis of a really constructive critique. You start to say, “What is the artist trying to do?” And you really empathize with the artist. That to me is the basis of constructive criticism and I can thank Richard for that. And the third thing I learned from him was that you’ve got to be ruthless. Ruthless in the sense that if you’re drawing a figure, and you really get into the details of the knuckles... You gotta be willing to be really hard on yourself, and not be precious, and do what needs to be done to make it happen.

DR: I remember how crazed his paintings could be. He was a walking gestalt. RG: He was a walking gestalt. And what else could you hope to be?

put Prince in prison to make him come out with a four-track jail album, where he can’t use a lot of cheesy synthesizers. He’d have to use really simple materials to make a straightforward good song. He can’t just rely on his old studio tricks.

[My professor, Richard Waxberg] was a walking gestalt, and what else could you hope to be? DR: You’ve been an outspoken Prince fan for many years. We know what Google would do, but more importantly, what would Prince do? RG: (Long sigh) Um, I’ll tell you what I would like Prince to do. ‘Cuz I don’t know what Prince would do. I wish Prince would go back to basics. I have this fantasy of having, like, a Court TV show where my favorite artists who have disappointed me would be put on trial, and I would sentence them to a project that they’d have to complete to get out of a prison. And I want to

DR: Would it be a purple prison? RG: That’d be fine. That’d be great.

DAN REDDING ’03 runs Magnetic State (, a design and illustration studio located in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and teaches art and music classes for visually impaired teens at the Lighthouse International. RYAN GERMICK ’03 is a designer at Google as well as a cartoonist, Web designer, Indiana native, and Prince enthusiast ( Both graduated in 2003 with BFA’s in Illustration from Parsons and BA’s in Writing from Eugene Lang College.





In the spring of 2006, a group of high school seniors — par ticipants in the Parsons Scholars Program—worked weekends developing a logo and other graphics for the SPEAK UP campaign to end gun violence, for the nonprofit organization PAX. It was the students’ third year in Parsons’ Pre-College Academy but their first real-world project, working for the design firm Fifth Line Group. Contributing to such a high-profile campaign would be an achievement for any student; it is especially significant for those in the scholarship program, who often become the first in their families to attend college or consider a career in art and design. The Parsons Scholars Program was initiated in 1997 to provide art- and designbased college preparation for high school sophomores from New York City public schools. “The program was launched to support the particular needs of disadvantaged youth interested in pursuing art and design,” says Anne Gaines, director of SPACE (Summer, Pre-College Academy, and Continuing Education) at Parsons. “Our funders provide valuable classes, visits to studios with guest lecturers, as well as SAT and other college-preparatory support that these students may not have access to in their high schools.”

Introducing students from diverse backgrounds to educational and career opportunities in the design fields brings new ideas and perspectives into the mix, increasing the possibilities for innovative design practice in the future. Parsons Scholars attend classes with students from around the world and develop peer relationships across the city with students at Cooper-Hewitt, Global Kids, and Pratt. The Speak UP project was devised by Parsons alumna and Fifth Line Group cofounder Kazumi Terada-Ovalle ’97, who served as a mentor to former Parsons Scholar Dwayne Sealey. Now a junior in Communication Design at Parsons, Sealey says, “I have to thank the program for bringing me where I am today, It makes me want to give back to younger kids when I become a professional designer.” Recent Scholars projects include painting murals for Covenant House and working with Architecture for Humanity New York on a proposal for the reconstruction of the High Bridge in the Bronx. Gaines hopes that Parsons can continue expanding the program. “New funders will allow us to cast a broader net, to invite more students into the program from all five boroughs.”

TO FIND OUT HOW TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE PARSONS SCHOLARS PROGRAM, CONTACT Susan Eddy Director of Development Parsons The New School for Design 79 Fifth Avenue, 17th floor New York, NY 10003 212.229.5662 x3827

re:D (Regarding Design) Spring 2009 Departments Editor Lindy Regan Managing Editor John Haffner Layden Contributing Editors Jen Rhee, Laetitia Wolff Contributing Writers Rose Cryan, Julie Novacek Godsoe, Phil Henken Alumni Relations Jessica Arnold, Rachel Denny, Latoya Marsh Art Director Isa Gouverneur Design Young Choi, James H. Monroe Production Tina Moskin Copy Editor Leora Harris Produced by Communications and External Affairs, The New School Letters and Submissions re:D welcomes letters to the editor as well as submissions of original manuscripts, photo submissions, and/or artwork. Unsolicited manuscripts, related materials, photography, and artwork will not be returned. Please include your year of graduation, degree completed, and major. Address Changes Please submit address changes at re:D Parsons The New School for Design 79 Fifth Avenue, 17th floor New York, NY 10003 PARSONS (USPS 760-830) Volume 26, Number 6, May 2009. PARSONS is published six times a year, in July, October, November, December, April and May by The New School, 66 West 12th Street, New York, NY 10011. Periodicals postage paid in New York, NY, and additional mailing offices. Postmaster: Send address changes to PARSONS, 66 West 12th Street, New York, NY 10011. Photo credits: John Haffner Layden, Clint Spaulding/ (Events), Savitri Lopez-Negrete (Feature 1), Lindy Regan, Matthew Sussman (Feature 2), Paulo Tavares (Profile, J Lombardi) On the Cover: Design by Lucille Tenazas and Candice Ralph ’08. The New School does not discriminate on the basis of age, race, color, gender or sexual orientation, religion, religious practices, mental or physical disability, national or ethnic origin, citizenship status, veteran or marital status. Correction: In our Fall 2008 issue, Adrienne “Adri” Steckling Coen’s name was misspelled as Adrienne “Adri” Steckling Cohen. The editors of re:D regret the error.


JI LEE ’95 Communication Design Alum

This work by Ji Lee responds to the failure of the banking system and the country’s economic woes by staging, with the help of Photoshop, the death of the iconic Wall Street bull.



2009 Spring re:d Magazine