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The Alumni Magazine OF Parsons The New School for Design  Spring 2013 creating a design-led university


re:D (regarding Design) SPRING 2013

The cut-paper-collage letter D in re:D on the cover of this issue is part of a font system created specially for the new University Center by graphic designer Ruedi Baur, based on a typeface by Peter Bi’lak. The faceted typeface evokes the building’s signature windows, which trace the staircases overlooking the street.

Creating a DesignLed University Proust once said that the “voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” His observation is apropos for this issue of re:D, which explores new ways of envisioning education at a time of fundamental technological, economic, and social change. Channeling the forces of change to create a more just, sustainable, and beautiful world has always been part of the university’s mission. Our students now have new tools with which to do so, including methods developed in design studios but proven useful for work done in a variety of contexts. The university is continuing to integrate its divisions to facilitate collective efforts to solve emerging problems. Learn how The New School is reshaping its educational landscape—literally, with the new University Center, and figuratively, in curricula and collaborative projects—and reinventing itself as a design-led institution.

Above: Student musicians from Mannes College The New School for Music after The Future of Orchestral Garments performance. See page 16.

Regarding Design (re:D) is the magazine of alumni and the wider Parsons community. Learn more about alumni benefits, news, and opportunities at


For more: www.newschool. edu/parsons/red


News & Events Parsons opens a new center in Paris, alumni gather to support the Parsons Scholars program, and Parsons celebrates its faculty


Portfolio Recent graduates share their work and discuss where it has taken them after Parsons


Creating a Design-Led University New School President David E. Van Zandt, Parsons Executive Dean Joel Towers, and Professor Bruce Nussbaum discuss the role of design in education and introduce the University Center


Joining Forces Cross-divisional projects at the university demonstrate the potential of disciplines working in concert


Alumni Message Alumni stay invested in their community and evolving fields of practice at campus activities year-round


Alumni Profiles Social Enterprise


Giving to Parsons William Geddes, MFA Photography ’06, gives yearly to Parsons’ Annual Fund; you can, too


Thank You Our Supporters


Red-Handed Connie Zhou, BFA Photography ’09


News & Events

Parsons Paris In 1921, Frank Alvah Parsons founded the Paris Ateliers, enabling Americans to study in one of the world’s most important cultural capitals. The university is now establishing a new academic center, PARSONS PARIS, offering nondegree programs this summer, bachelor’s programs this fall, and master’s programs in fall 2014. Programs will include Fashion Design; Strategic Design and Management; Art Media, and Technology; Design and Technology; and Art and Design History and Theory. Located in the first arrondissement, Parsons Paris is surrounded by the museums, galleries, and design houses that make the city unique. Courses, taught in English, are based on curricula developed for the New York campus but adapted to the culture and context of Paris. SUSAN TAYLOR-LEDUC, an art historian based in Paris, has been chosen to serve as dean. Parsons Paris is one in a series of initiatives at the university that position creative and entrepreneurial activity in an international context. “I look forward to making Parsons Paris a key player in the European art and design community, and to educating a new generation of designers to become informed global citizens,” said Taylor-Leduc. See page 02, image 1. www.newschool.edu/parsons/paris



In December 2012, the New York Times website posted “Snow Fall,” a long-form online article about a fatal avalanche at the Stevens Pass ski resort in Washington. The story, written by John Branch, is a feat of interactive journalism: Woven through with videos, graphics, and photography, “Snow Fall” is a multifaceted narrative experience that drew more than 3.5 million views in six days. Parsons grad

This past December, Parsons’ MS DESIGN AND URBAN ECOLOGIES program co-hosted

the team behind the project. A multimedia producer at the New York Times, Myint was invited to the TED conference in Long Beach, California, to discuss creating “Snow Fall.” Myint explained that when designing, she asks herself, “How do I help this story tell itself?” For “Snow Fall,” that involved creating content in which each medium interacts with the others to produce a gripping experience.

“Urban Uprisings: Re-imagining the City,” a conference that brought together architects, activists, urban designers, and planners from around the country. Participants examined ways the design of cities and their institutions could facilitate social change, exploring historical examples and topics such as security measures in cities and protest organizing strategies. Representatives from more than 80 local civic organizations developed comprehensive action plans to bring about change in New York City over the next 100 years. MIGUEL ROBLES-DURÁN, director of the Design and Urban Ecologies program, remarked, “As designers and engaged community members, we are responsible for finding radically new ways to build cities and use design to defend citizens’ rights to the cityscape.”



Jacky Myint, MFA Design Technology ’02, was part of


fashion design and sustainability at Parsons, recently invited Kate Fletcher, an author and activist at London College of Fashion’s Centre for Sustainable Fashion, to lecture at The New School. She discussed the need for people to develop sustainable habits in relation to clothing. Fletcher illustrated her points with examples from her international research project, Local Wisdom, which explores the “craft of use,” the idea that clothes can be altered and reused rather than discarded. This January, members of the public were invited to take part in a photo shoot at Parsons wearing treasured garments. Local Wisdom team members interviewed participants, asking them about their clothing and the ways they recycle garments. The photos and stories were posted on the project’s website. The Local Wisdom team will hold photo shoots worldwide to document inventive approaches to sustainable fashion. The results will serve as the basis for design projects initiated by Local Wisdom and proposals for ways to integrate sustainable practices into existing fashion business models. localwisdom.info

TOY STORY Last spring, BFA Illustration students at Parsons turned their attention to toy design. Working either with software or by hand, each student in Professor Caty Bartholomew’s Illustration Concepts class developed two toy characters with unique background stories for a competition sponsored by a UK-based collectible toy company, Dudebox. Students were asked to design toys that were both imaginative and commercially viable. At the end of the course, Dudebox representatives chose one design to put into production for

sale around the world. At New York Comic Con in October, Dudebox announced the winner: BOB, a red, black, and white sailor from Planet Pepp with two faces bearing different expressions, designed by Loren Kang ’13. Kang was presented with a BOB production sample from the Dudebox toy range and spent Comic Con autographing the product for toy collectors. See page 03, image 14.

www.newschool.edu/parsons/ bfa-illustration

AFTERTASTE 2013 AfterTaste, a symposium first hosted by the MFA Interior Design program in the School of Constructed Environments in 2007, brings together practitioners and scholars from a wide range of disciplines to reflect on the interior environment and its constituent elements. This year’s symposium, “The Atmosphere of Objects,” examined the way objects in space inform habitation, influence perception, and shape social dynamics. Design professionals, design journalists, and academics including MIA LUNDSTRÖM, SUSAN SZENASY, AKIKO BUSCH, JONAS DAMON, JANET BORGERSON, JONATHAN SCHROEDER, FRITZ KARCH, DAVID MANN, and
PILAR VILADAS discussed the way

objects relate to markets, language, subjects, and contexts. JAMESPLUMB (HANNAH PLUMB and JAMES RUSSELL) and LEONARD KOREN explored

histories of objects. People who attended the symposium experienced firsthand the many ways Parsons’ MFA Interior Design program redefines approaches, expands the scope of the field, and brings fresh thinking to established areas of study. See page 02, image 2.

www.newschool.edu/parsons/ aftertaste




EVENTS 1  Parsons Paris Is Launched RENAUD DUTREIL, New School trustee and member of Parsons’ board of governors, welcomes visitors to Parsons Paris launch events. 2 AfterTaste 2013 SUSAN SZENASY (left), editor in chief of Metropolis magazine, interviews MIA LUNDSTRÖM, creative director of Home Furnishings at IKEA, at AfterTaste, a conference hosted by Parsons’ MFA Interior Design program in the School of Constructed Environments.


3 Lucille Tenazas Receives AIGA Medal LUCILLE TENAZAS, Henry Wolf Professor in Parsons’ School of Art, Media, and Technology, was recognized for her contributions to graphic design and design education at this year’s gala. Photo © Angela Jimenez Photography, courtesy of AIGA.


4 Gromek to Lead New School Board of Trustees Fashion industry executive JOSEPH R. GROMEK, formerly the chair of Parsons’ board of governors, now serves as chair of the New School board of trustees.



5 Partial to Parsons: The First Lady’s Fashion Choices For the second time, First Lady MICHELLE OBAMA wore a gown by JASON WU to the Presidential Inaugural Ball. At the president’s swearing-in ceremony, she wore a blue shift and cardigan by REED KRAKOFF, AAS Fashion Design ’89. She and her daughters often wear clothes by Parsons alumni. 6, 7 Bloomingdales Hosts b the next Parsons Scholars Event TIM GUNN and KAY UNGER, Fashion Design ’68, are flanked by Parsons Scholars BRIHANNA BLAKE, THI WAN, YELAINE RODRIGUEZ, ELIZABETH PERALTA, and GENESIS PEÑA. Alumni designers attending included NARCISO RODRIGUEZ, TRACY REESE, and EDWARD WILKERSON, shown here with JOEL TOWERS, executive dean of Parsons. 8 Parsons Design Studies Symposium Professor CLIVE DILNOT presents at “Negotiating the Terrain of Design Studies,” a symposium marking the launch of Parsons’ Master of Arts in Design Studies program.

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EXHIBITIONS at the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center 9 React: The Feminine Mystique at 50 New School students interpreted passages from The Feminine Mystique in artworks created to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Friedan’s feminist classic. In Out of Her, MOLLY OBERHOLTZER, BFA Integrated Design ’13, plays with motifs historically associated with women to comment on stereotypes.




10 Prototype: An Exhibition in the Cloud In this exhibition, organized by Parsons’ School of Art, Media, and Technology and the media arts department of the University of the Arts, Berlin, artists used prototyping as a creative tool. Housed online, the projects were downloaded and exhibited globally.

13  Drop by Drop/Living Arts City The colloquium shown here, an event at which participants explored the arts and urbanism in Phnom Penh and New York, was part of the Season of Cambodia Festival. Parsons and Eugene Lang College students curated a related multimedia exhibition.

11 Sophie Gimbel: Fashioning American Couture Partnering with Saks Fifth Avenue, Parsons instructor BETH DINCUFF CHARLESTON presented original designs by pioneering American fashion designer Sophie Gimbel.

14 BFA Illustration–Dudebox Competition BOB, a toy character created by BFA Illustration student LOREN KANG ’13 in Illustration Concepts, a class taught by CATY BARTHOLOMEW, was selected to be put into production by the toy company Dudebox.


12 The Public Private CHRISTIANE PAUL curated an exhibition exploring the effects of social media and new technologies on the public and private realms.

15  The End Is the Beginning Parsons’ SIMONE DOUGLAS taught a study abroad course in Beijing and in Mongolia’s Gobi Desert. Student teams created photographic works using an “exquisite corpse”– style process. Shown here is a photograph by Douglas of Sara Jimenez and Kaitlyn Redell performing at the Great Wall. 14


16 Fab.com x BFA Illustration Professors STEVEN GUARNACCIA and NOËL CLARO recently teamed up with BRADFORD SHELLHAMMER, AAS Fashion Design ’08, a founder of the e-commerce retailer Fab.com, to create an online pop-up shop selling students’ work. Shown here is a print by COLLEEN REINHART.

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Cause for Celebration Incoming board chair and designer KAY UNGER, Fashion Design ’68, recently hosted a fundraiser at Bloomingdale’s called b the next, benefiting the university’s Parsons Scholars program and showcasing the talents of prominent alumni. Over refreshments, the crowd viewed a static show of pieces by Parsons Scholars (see page 02, images 6 and 7). Alumni designers including Alejandro Ingelmo, PARKE LUTTER, Tracy Reese, Narciso Rodriguez, Lela Rose, Kay Unger, Carmen Marc Valvo, Edward Wilkerson, and Bob Williams of Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams also attended to show their support. Tim Gunn, host of Project Runway, was on hand to sign copies of his

Fashion Bible. A percentage of selected Bloomingdale’s sales made that evening was donated to Parsons Scholars, a program offering New York City public high school students three years of free college preparatory classes and activities that expose them to the city’s art and design resources. The rigorous curriculum helps students acquire the skills and knowledge needed to enter and succeed in undergraduate art and design programs. Scholars receive college credit and a Pre-College Certificate from Parsons upon completing the program. scholars.parsons.edu


swarm of activity

The first graduating class of Parsons’ MFA Fashion Design and Society program presented their work to industry insiders, the press, academics, and alumni at New York Fashion Week last fall. Donna Karan ’87, who endowed the program and serves on Parsons’ board of governors, attended the runway show, which was called The First Eighteen. Each student showed a technically accomplished collection that combined artistic vision with commentary on culture, politics, economy, and ecology, reflecting the interdisciplinary focus of the MFA program. Beckett Fogg ’12, who studied architecture as an undergraduate, used an industrial automobile press to emboss her fabric; Talia Shuvalov ’12 created sweaters and t-shirts woven and pieced together from vintage garments as a critique of consumer culture; and the collection by Lucia Cuba ’12 included fabric printed with excerpts from Peru’s national health regulations to raise awareness of involuntary sterilizations of Peruvian women in the 1990s.

Undergraduates from Parsons’ BFA INTEGRATED DESIGN and

See page 07.

www.newschool.edu/parsons/ mfa-fashion-design-society



WeSwarm, a game-like mobile app selected as a finalist in the EDF Sustainable Design Challenge 2012, a competition sponsored by a European utility company. WeSwarm challenges users to plan ways of getting around that rely less on driving alone and more on collective methods, making travel more sustainable. WeSwarm was later exhibited at the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games and the “Fantastic” Energy Lab in Lille, France. The team received a grant from EDF to develop the project. Working with assistant professors NADIA ELROKHSY and LARA PENIN of The New School’s DESIS Lab, the students created a video and a physical model that were exhibited at the 8th Saint-Etienne International Design Biennial. Parsons instructor NICHOLAS FORTUGNO is helping the team develop the app’s game functions. www.newschool.edu/WeSwarm

CALLING ALL DESIGNERS New York City’s information technology and telecommunications agency recently sponsored the Reinvent Payphones Design Challenge, a competition aimed at making the city’s 11,000+ payphones into devices to help residents stay informed, safe, healthy, and environmentally aware. RAMA CHORPASH, BFA PRODUCT DESIGN director, won the Best Functionality category for Smart Sidewalks, designed with partners at Syracuse University, UC Davis, and Cheng + Snyder. Smart Sidewalks reimagines payphones as digital hubs providing access to maps, email, weather information, and WiFi. “These projects are real-world articulations of civic engagement and The New School’s mission,” said Chorpash. Parsons ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES senior RENA LEE worked with Cooper Union and NYU students on Windchimes, a payphone featuring environmental data sensors, which won the Community Impact category. Two interdivisional teams led by professors JEFF SMITH (MILANO SCHOOL OF INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS, MANAGEMENT, AND URBAN POLICY at THE NEW SCHOOL FOR PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT) and ANDREW SHEA

(Parsons) were semifinalists. City officials are planning to install redesigned units citywide, and Chorpash’s team is refining a prototype to submit. Competition winners presented their projects at the New Museum’s Ideas City Festival in May. tinyurl.com/q2j8xjm

LEADING BY DESIGN JOSEPH R. GROMEK has been elected to chair the New School Board of Trustees, and alumna KAY UNGER has stepped into his role as chair of the Parsons board of governors. Gromek served as president and CEO of the Warnaco Group from 2003 to February 2012, transforming it from a

domestic apparel wholesaler into one of the world’s foremost retailers. In 2005, Gromek assumed a leadership role at the university when he was elected to the Parsons board of governors; he became a New School trustee in 2011. Unger is a celebrated designer and philanthropist with a devoted following worldwide. She is a co-founder of Kay Unger New York and Phoebe Couture. A proud graduate of Parsons, Unger has been a New School trustee since 2011 and a member of Parsons’ board of governors since 2006. Both appointments reflect the growing relevance of design business to work being done throughout the university. See page 02, image 4.


SUPPORT STRUCTURES CRISTINA HANDAL, a student in Parsons’ MS DESIGN AND URBAN ECOLOGIES program, and MARCO ZELAYA, a student in Milano’s MS URBAN POLICY program, received

a $10,000 New Challenge prize for Y Project, their business development initiative in Honduras. New Challenge is a university competition for which students develop socially innovative projects. Y Project assists women operating roadside food businesses who lack access to clean water. Handal and Zelaya designed a structure with a Y-shaped roof that collects and filters rainwater, making it available for food preparation. The design includes areas for cooking and eating and an ecofriendly cookstove. The women will be offered workshops teaching skills necessary for sustaining their businesses and building the structures. The first “y-structure” will be erected this summer. “Y Project is a living example of what we learn at The New School,” says Handal. “The goal is to help one woman at a time, strengthen the community, and make a change in the country.” newchallenge.newschool.edu/ projects/2013/y-corn/


Faculty News Recent activities and achievements of Parsons faculty members

JULIA DAULT, MFA FINE ARTS ’08 JULIA DAULT, an assistant professor of contemporary art in Parsons’ School of Art, Media, and Technology, teaches an MFA Fine Arts core course. Dault’s work has been exhibited widely. She recently showed in the 2012 New Museum Triennial and will have exhibitions at Galerie Bob van Orsouw (Zurich) and Harris Lieberman Gallery (New York). Dault works with bold colors and innovative materials and processes. In her paintings, she scrapes through pigment to reveal unusual substrates like pleather or spandex. Site-specific sculptures—curling Formica and acrylic sheets strapped together—seem ready to spring off the wall. Dault fashions artworks in single sessions, titling them according to the time spent creating them. “They’re performative sculpture—I want viewers to look at the final form and extrapolate the process,” she says. Untitled 27, 11:15 AM–2:30 PM, January 23, 2013. Plexiglas, Formica, Everlast boxing wraps. Dimensions variable; as installed: 95½" x 56½" x 37" (242.6 cm x 143.5 cm x 94 cm). www.juliadault.com

PARSONS School of design strategies New York, NY


IDIOM, Bangalore


UFMA Sao Luis

Un B Brasilia UEMG Belo Horizonte ESPM Sao Paulo

PUC-Rio Rio de Janeiro

UFMA Sao Luis

30 Students 3 Faculty

UEMG Belo HoriZonte

20 Students 4 Faculty

PUC_Rio Rio de Janeiro

120 Students 9 Faculty

UnB Brazilia

20 Students 2 Faculty

ESPM Sao paolo

12 Students 1 Faculty

UNISINOS Porto Alegre

20 Students 3 Faculty


PARSONS School of Design Strategies New York USA



UNISINOS Porto Alegre

IDIOM /SPREAD-NICC Bangalore.India 13 Students 3 Faculty

CARLOS TEIXEIRA For CARLOS TEIXEIRA, an associate professor in Parsons’ School of Design Strategies and co-director of the nonprofit DREAM:IN Project, dreams are the fuel of social transformation. Founded by co-director Sonia Manchanda, DREAM:IN dispatches students to interview people about their aspirations, aiming to transform their ideas into viable businesses. DREAM:IN received a Game Changers 2013 award from Metropolis for a 2011 project in which more than 100 youths documented the dreams of thousands of Indians. Today nearly 300 volunteers across South India are recording 10,000 dreams for DREAM:IN NEXT GEN. The venture is expanding to the United States, Brazil, and China. “This is a radical model of entrepreneurialism for social change,” said Teixeira. “Instead of accepting things as they are, people are dreaming about what might be.” www.dreamin.in

DAVID J. LEWIS This is a banner year for DAVID J. LEWIS, founding principal of Lewis. Tsurumaki.Lewis (LTL Architects) and associate professor of architecture at Parsons’ School of Constructed Environments. His design, the first building at Gallaudet University to meet DeafSpace guidelines, opened for fall 2012 occupancy. Weeks after Habitat for Humanity completed work on Empowerhouse, the energy-efficient home in Washington, DC, designed by students he had advised, Lewis released Intensities, a monograph on new built and speculative projects by LTL Architects. Then he learned that MoMA was acquiring 21 drawings and prints submitted by his firm for Rising Currents: Projects for New York’s Waterfront, the museum’s exhibition of designs for the harbor and coastline in response to rising sea levels. Delivering the news, Barry Bergdoll, MoMA’s Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design, wrote, “Some of the most exquisite thinking and rendering from Rising Currents is now part of the permanent collection.” www.ltlarchitects.com




PORTFOLIO Recent graduates—including alumni from the first class of Parsons’ new MFA Fashion Design and Society and MFA Transdisciplinary Design programs—share their work and discuss where it has taken them after Parsons

Eva Bochem-Shur BFA COMMUNICATION DESIGN ’12 City cycling may become a bit easier thanks to GobyBike, a mobile application that helps riders explore New York City by bicycle. Eva Bochem-Shur developed GobyBike, a project created in faculty member Jane Pirone’s Urban Bike course and completed in Paul Carlos’ Thesis class, to familiarize both seasoned and novice riders with the city’s expanding bicycle infrastructure. The location-based app’s clean, well-organized interface enables riders to orient themselves and view customized maps displaying directions, safe route suggestions, and locations of bike parking lots, rental stations, repair shops, and other services.

GobyBike’s easy-to-use interface offers bike safety suggestions, as shown above at left. Map features orient cyclists, displaying safe routes through the city and locations of services of interest to bicyclists. GobyBike helps users document their development as cyclists by storing data on rides that can then be shared with friends and family.

Cyclists can use the app while biking or in planning day trips. “The project was driven by user needs: Cyclists want information on the go, so the interface had to give them what they need at a glance,” said Bochem-Shur. During a ride, GobyBike displays instructions and reminders for navigating the city safely. GobyBike’s on-screen navigational elements resemble bicycle parts. Users plan trips by rotating gears; circles and chains represent other navigation functions. Today Bochem-Shur is a junior designer at Pure + Applied, a New York City design studio led by Parsons faculty members Urshula Barbour and Paul Carlos. There she works on print, brand identity, and online projects for cultural institutions. www.evabochem-shur.com


LUCIA CUBA MFA FASHION DESIGN AND SOCIETY ’12 For her thesis, Lucia Cuba drew on her experience in design and activism to create Artículo 6, a project intended to raise awareness of the involuntary sterilizations of Peruvian women that took place under Alberto Fujimori’s administration. Human rights activists claim that these sterilizations, intended to reduce Peru’s poor population, constitute crimes against humanity. Cuba’s project takes its name from a Peruvian law dealing with contraception and centers on the legal battle of women who were sterilized and now seek justice. Cuba created 34 garments displaying text related to the case and images depicting people involved. The silhouettes evoke the clothing of Quechua women, who were targeted by the sterilization campaign. Artículo 6’s other communication platform consists of 12 “actions”—installations, performances, objects, photos, videos, workshops, and a website (articulo6.pe)—that Cuba is developing to publicize the cause. Cuba’s project has received significant press in the United States and abroad and has captured the interest of celebrities including Lady Gaga, who wore a garment from the collection for an MTV interview in September 2012. Cuba is now a design researcher, a visiting associate professor at Pratt Institute, and an artist-in-residence at the Textile Arts Center. She continues to develop “actions” related to Artículo 6 and other projects to influence Peruvian public policy. www.luciacuba.com

The look shown here features a modified pollera—a tiered cotton skirt of the kind commonly worn by indigenous Peruvian women, many of whom were coerced into consenting to sterilizations in the 1990s. The fabric is embroidered with text relating to the case, which was reopened by the Peruvian public prosecutor’s office in March 2012. Cuba considers her garments “agents of change” that spark dialogue about the case in ways traditional media cannot.



Leif Percifield MFA DESIGN & TECHNOLOGY ’12 Leif Percifield’s design methodology is “about inputs and outputs: what is required and what it’s required to do, rendered simply.” Inputs and outputs are central to the ecological threat that Percifield is targeting—the expulsion of raw sewage from overfilled sewers into New York City’s waters—and the tools he’s created to address the problem. Percifield cultivated his hacker approach while developing a thesis under Parsons faculty members including Yuri Gitman, Chris Romero, and Marko Tandefelt. His project, DontFlushMe, is an alert system informing residents when to discharge less wastewater to lower the risk of sewage overflows. Its main feature is a sensor that transmits data indicating overflows to a website that tells users, in real time, when to conserve water. Users are visually prompted by Visualight, a Wi-Fi-enabled bulb that changes color in response to alerts sent by DontFlushMe sensors and other devices. Since graduating, Percifield has refined these open-source products with funds from a Kickstarter campaign and has undertaken related initiatives and “smart device” projects, including Google’s Talking Shoes. Now a Parsons instructor, he’s organizing projects for the University Center’s LEED certification (see page 15). Meanwhile, DontFlushMe’s impact is growing: Officials from the Department of Environmental Protection and the Environmental Protection Agency are closely following Percifield’s progress. dontflush.me

Sewage overflow is the main source of water pollution in New York City. DontFlushMe and Visualight enable users to avoid overburdening the city’s waste removal system so that raw sewage can be processed instead of being discharged untreated into waterways. Above: Prototype Visualight and sensor units. Left: Percifield testing an early version of his sensor in an NYC sewer.

Steve Duncan, undercity.org



NYC building façades are inspected every five years, necessitating protective scaffolding. This requirement accounts for the city’s 8,500-plus sidewalk sheds. Hoke and Chambers’ research suggested that urban projects involving incremental change offer maximum benefits. Their easy-to-install components represent an incremental change that transforms sidewalk sheds into temporary urban oases. The Softwalks seat unit is shown below.

Howard Chambers and Bland Hoke MFA TRANSDISCIPLINARY DESIGN ’12 Softwalks—a kit of parts that clamp onto construction scaffolding to create seating, lighting, tables, and planters—is transforming urban eyesores into functional public spaces. Chambers and Hoke’s sidewalk shed intervention, inspired by newly created pedestrian plazas in New York City, began in a graduate course and became their joint thesis. Describing their goals, Chambers says, “We found that providing opportunities for surprise interactions and places where people could rest were needed most.” Its creators have installed Softwalks at sites including Soho, Parsons Festival 2012, and Brooklyn’s DUMBO Arts Festival. Now they’re proposing it for Times Square. Softwalks took the Student Category of Fast Company’s Innovation By Design competition in 2012. The prize opened doors for the designers. who are pitching the project to business improvement districts, which stand to benefit from enlivened streetscapes. Softwalks chairs are already shipping to Brazil. Chambers and Hoke presented Softwalks at the Ideas City conference at The New Museum in May and at Design Indaba, the prestigious design conference in Cape Town, South Africa, last February (an event Hoke included in his “top five life experiences”). Hoke is working on other urban art commissions, including one to build a light feature beckoning visitors to an emerging arts neighborhood in Norfolk, Virginia. Chambers has opened Brandtworks, a design consultancy focusing on human-centered branding, sustainability, and place making. She also teaches communication design courses at Parsons. citysoftwalks.com




Yoav Menachem BFA PRODUCT DESIGN ’12 New York City is known for its long-established neighborhoods, each with its own time-honored gathering places. But when Yoav Menachem moved to the city and began exploring, he noticed communities of a less permanent kind: groups of people waiting to cross streets, standing on subway platforms, sitting together in parks. “In the city, we’re constantly creating temporary and random communities shaped by our interests, activities, and whereabouts from moment to moment throughout the day,” says Menachem.

Menachem created RE:SPACE for his thesis class, taught by Len Mayer, Peter Allen, and Carla Ross Allen. In developing the project, he researched public spaces, met with city officials about requirements for street furniture, and prototyped several versions. Users can create various seating arrangements by rotating adjacent units, allowing individuals to sit alone reading, gather in groups for events, change the direction seats face, and sit in sunlight or shade.

For his thesis project, RE:SPACE, Menachem developed reconfigurable street furniture designed to encourage city dwellers to notice and reflect on these temporary communities. RE:SPACE consists of seats that can pivot, enabling users to create a variety of arrangements with neighboring units. RE:SPACE’s flexibility allows people to interact with their ad hoc neighbors while taking a brief rest. Menachem now works for Tzelan, a team that creates features for high-end hotels designed by interiors firm Tony Chi & Associates. He is also designing furniture for a Jewish community center in Rhinebeck, New York, in collaboration with fellow Parsons graduates. www.yoavmenachem.wordpress.com


Creating a Design-Led University

Methods borrowed from design are now being employed to address problems of all kinds in innovative ways. The university’s disciplines are coming together as never before to develop students’ ability to master design-based approaches and prepare them for the 21st century. Over the past 20 years, design has come to occupy a prominent place in public consciousness, cultural systems, and the global economy. Studio-based tools like data visualization, collaborative play, and prototyping are now employed to improve services and tackle the social, environmental, and economic problems that accompany urbanization. Acquiring these skills, which are critical for emerging professions, prepares New School students for careers in both established and new fields. To help them adapt to design’s expanded role, the university is strengthening curricula and launching forward-looking programs in which students apply design strategies in cross-divisional collaborations.

On the following pages, you can read about how design practices are flourishing at the university. NEW SCHOOL PRESIDENT DAVID E. VAN ZANDT and PARSONS EXECUTIVE DEAN JOEL TOWERS discuss the role of design in education with Parsons professor BRUCE NUSSBAUM. Their conversation introduces The New School’s University Center, a campus anchor facilitating creative and intellectual synergy through its design and role as a gathering place. The second feature explores four cross-divisional projects that illustrate the ideas discussed by Van Zandt, Towers, and Nussbaum and show how collaboration unites New School disciplines in the mission to create a more sustainable, equitable, and joyful world.




David E. Van Zandt and Joel Towers on Design and Education In his recent book, Creative Intelligence: Harnessing the Power to Create, Connect, and Inspire, Bruce Nussbaum explores ideas relevant to education for the 21st century, drawing on years of reporting on design, innovation, and industry and his experience teaching at Parsons. At re:D’s invitation, Nussbaum led a conversation with New School President David E. Van Zandt and Parsons Executive Dean Joel Towers, excerpted here, about how and why design is being employed to unite New School divisions and disciplines and advance the university’s mission.

Bruce Nussbaum: Over the last two decades, design has come out of its niche to have something to say and do in the wider world. David, in the Huffington Post you called The New School a “designled university.” What’s your thinking behind that? David Van Zandt: Design tools are becoming more important to student learning at The New School. As you’re suggesting, design is no longer just about physical objects; it is about humans interacting with one another and their environment. Designers are taking on the same issues as social scientists, addressing the economy and the environment, for example. It’s a logical progression to bring these fields closer together here. As the only university with a leading design school, The New School is uniquely well positioned to forge those curricular connections. Joel Towers: Historically design education was skills-based and was segregated from other disciplines. Today design is strategic, responsive to complex problems, and frequently employed in collaborative environments, so what we do at Parsons is increasingly relevant to the rest of The New School. Design can be part of every academic field and profession. We’re removing silos so that art and design practice contributes to and draws from the university’s other disciplines—the humanities, the social sciences, management, public policy, the performing arts.

BN: What is being done to make design a bigger part of New School education? DVZ: We’re making cross-divisional study easier by aligning bell schedules and reviewing degree requirements, so that, for instance, a media studies student can work with a documentarian teaching at Parsons and a Parsons undergraduate in urban design can take a course like Understanding Global Capitalism at Lang. Adjusting curricula also lets students participate in longer-term interdisciplinary projects such as Empowerhouse and collaborations with institutions like the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (see pages 16–19). JT: These projects have students working as they would on a professional team, figuring out how to bring manufacturing back to New York City, for example, or how to change our culture of consumption to be more sustainable. At Parsons, we’ve redesigned the undergraduate curriculum to broaden the base of competencies we expect of graduating artists and designers. The world has changed, and designers need new skills to contextualize the social, economic, and ecological implications of their work. DVZ: Broadly put, we’re enriching undergraduate education without sacrificing the focus of programs. A BFA from Parsons or Jazz is still a BFA, but it’ll be a more comprehensive degree as curriculum shifts away from the siloed model Joel mentioned.

BN: A broad set of competencies is what industry is looking for today. Employers want graduates who are agile thinkers and can adapt quickly to the short term and the future—specific skills but also the ability to build a field or business over time. DVZ: Employers seek graduates with well-developed technical skills and the ability to think creatively, and they recognize that Parsons is a good place to acquire both. They want people who can come up with solutions quickly—proposing scenarios for an urban bike-share system, to give an example. Graduates who can work in ad hoc teams and collaborate across disciplinary and cultural lines. BN: That describes the university projects I see happening here that focus on social innovation—efforts to improve the world through creative adaptation of human behaviors and systems. How does design relate to social innovation, and how does social innovation fit into The New School’s mission? DVZ: Success in any endeavor today depends on a solid design foundation. Whatever our students go on to do, the ability to use design to guide outcomes is critical. That could involve using the technique of reframing to identify the best scale at which to address a problem, as Jamer Hunt does in his MFA Transdisciplinary Design classes. Or using visual language to communicate ideas. Social innovation is


David E. Van Zandt, president of The New School, and Joel Towers, executive dean of Parsons, in the future library in the University Center




blossoming at The New School because it’s tied to the university’s culture and draws on the talents of the entire community. Design thinking was integral in almost all submissions to New Challenge, our university-wide social innovation student competition. In the grand prize–winning entry, Y Project, a sustainable business initiative for Honduran women, well-designed services were just as important as a well-designed building (see “Support Structures,” page 04). JT: Design methodologies and iterative practices like prototyping activate social innovation. Designers think visually: We draw to think through problems and present ideas. The iterative process—quickly developing and testing solutions—also comes from design and has found its way into the liberal arts. Designers use this problem-solving approach not to find a single answer but rather to consider a question from many perspectives to arrive at a solution, which they then reevaluate to propose another question. And the ability to engage with complex sets of information presented through smart data visualization has become important in the digital information age. Designers rely on these methods; they’re skills employers want. They help us intentionally design a better world. BN: Those abilities are fundamental to an entrepreneurial economy here in the United States and elsewhere—the creative economy built on opportunities emerging from technology- and design-related fields. DVZ: Joel is right. Real value in today’s economy comes from innovating creative solutions. A solid base in creative innovation puts New York City at the cutting edge of entrepreneurialism and social design. The city looks to universities here not only for talent for creative industries but also to help develop business models. Many of our students turn course projects into businesses and organizations, often with peers they met here. BN: Many entrepreneurs these days are people with design backgrounds, like Steve Jobs, who saw himself as an artist, not an engineer.

JT: Bringing technologies and habits and behaviors together intelligently was perhaps Steve Jobs’ greatest contribution. We need that kind of innovation. For example, we already know the science of climate change and the role of humans in it, but we haven’t found a way to shape a culture embracing sustainable living. Parsons and the New School for Public Engagement are working together at our DESIS Lab1 (see “Swarm of Activity,” page 04) to find human-centered solutions to problems like that. BN: Let’s talk more about methods to develop these abilities. In Creative Intelligence, I discuss a kind of productive play that fosters creativity and innovation through social interaction. Parsons’ research studios—like DESIS, which Joel mentioned, and PETLab2—are places where students play in a serious way, testing ideas, failing, redefining problems, and role-playing to develop an understanding of user experience. DVZ: Right. Innovation isn’t usually the product of a lone genius. It happens when people work together combining perspectives. Anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss, who taught at The New School in the 1940s, used the term bricolage to refer to the way cultures develop: People assemble pieces they already have in new ways, making something unique. Our job as a university is to create the conditions for bricolage: to bring people together to share ideas and consider solutions to problems. BN: Our diverse student body is an important resource for constructive play at the university. A lot of teaching goes on among students themselves—bringing together varied perspectives on problem solving. JT: When students work together with emotional engagement and clear goals, they don’t want to stop. That’s constructive play, something we expect to see in the new University Center, a building with spaces like broad staircases where people can interact. One of the most important capacities of design is that of finding opportunities to make

something better—to rethink issues, systems, and structures. Using these tools throughout the divisions, we can get at the deepest, most serious intellectual and social questions joyfully together. BN: Joel, your point about framing makes me think that reframing creativity is what’s taking place at The New School. JT: This is a transformative moment. The New School is well equipped to prepare students for the challenges of our time. As educators, we must design approaches to education that reflect an understanding of people and social structures and that work across social and geographic space. As the questions change, we adapt. David, you’ve said that to answer these future-focused questions we have to think differently and structure the university to meet this challenge. That’s the exciting project underway. DVZ: We’re developing the curriculum, renewing the faculty—with people connected to industry like you, Bruce— and opening our new University Center, a space designed to facilitate innovation. This combination promises a New School learning experience that will carry the historic mission of this university into the future by giving students, as engaged citizens, the tools to navigate our rapidly changing world and improve it for everyone. Bruce Nussbaum is a professor of innovation and design at Parsons, a former assistant managing editor of BusinessWeek, and the founder of the Innovation & Design online channel and of the quarterly IN: Inside Innovation. He blogs at Fast Company and Harvard Business Review and is the author of several books, including Creative Intelligence: Harnessing the Power to Create, Connect, and Inspire (HarperCollins, 2013). 1

Prototyping, Evaluation, Teaching and Learning Lab, a public-interest game design and research lab at Parsons.


Design for Social Innovation and Sustainability Lab, a New School research organization focusing on strategic and service design related to sustainability and social innovation.


The New School’s University Center — Space for Collaboration

The New School’s 16-story, 350,000-square-foot University Center, at the corner of 14th Street and Fifth Avenue, will open to the entire community in January 2014. Expected to become the hub of campus life, the new building will house reconfigurable classrooms, laboratories, and studios; an 800-seat auditorium featuring a stage that can be set up for performances or as a fashion runway; a two-story library; a student residence; a faculty resource center; student lounges; and a café for socializing and collaborative work. Informal spaces throughout the building, including three central staircases, have been designed to encourage interaction. With the construction of the center, the university will have an unprecedented amount of space downtown to accommodate collaborative activity between New School divisions. President David E. Van Zandt and Parsons Executive Dean Joel Towers share the belief that bringing students together will support more substantive interdisciplinary work. “For the first time since the Joseph Urban building was opened in 1930,

the university has a place where students and faculty from all programs can gather. The New School has always been open to the public, and the University Center carries that tradition forward,” says President Van Zandt. Towers comments, “The university has given students a place all their own, one that facilitates constructive play in ways we hadn’t imagined.” Environmental sustainability is a central consideration in the design of the building, which is expected to receive a Gold LEED rating. Classes have been developed to examine the University Center’s effects on the surrounding social, ecological, political, and economic landscape, allowing students to learn directly from the design and construction process. Once the building is open, new courses will enable the university community to fully explore the building’s green features, extending creative and critical learning opportunities. www.newschool.edu/university-center





1: The two-story library includes media stations, open stacks, and seating for study and lounging. The Center’s green building features include an internal water recycling system and innovative cooling technology.

3: The Event Café offers students space in which to work and socialize. Conceptual artist Glenn Ligon is creating a site-specific artwork—verses from Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass spelled out in neon—to be installed on the café’s walls.

2: The second-floor cafeteria features windows angled to maximize natural lighting.

4: The auditorium’s reconfigurable stage and seating can accommodate everything from music performances to fashion runway presentations.



Joining Forces —Cross-Divisional University Projects


“Our goal is to erase preconceived notions of what a classical concert is,” said MARIN ALSOP, music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO). “We’re re-imagining orchestral attire and bringing technology into the concert hall in exciting new ways.” For the past year, Alsop and the BSO have collaborated with PARSONS and MANNES COLLEGE the new school for music on a project in which fashion, wearable technology, and interactive design are used to transform the concert experience and reach new audiences. Alsop created the project to honor her friend and mentor, fashion executive and Parsons board member TOMIO TAKI.

The project was initiated last fall in Orchestral Garments, a Parsons course on wearable technology led by SABINE SEYMOUR and SCOTT PETERMAN, MFA DESIGN AND TECHNOLOGY ’12. Students observed Mannes musicians and the BSO performing to research ways to make concert wear functional and comfortable. They created devices that track performers’ movements and the sound waves they produce and convert them into projected animations. In IDC Networks–The Gift, a BFA Integrated Design course led this spring by GABRIEL ASFOUR, students built on concepts from last fall’s class to develop concert attire further. “The ‘gift’ in the course title refers to students’ discovering their talents,” Asfour explained, “and bringing them to a creative collaboration.” Using vintage pieces, ready-to-wear, and sportswear fabrics, students outfitted Mannes musicians for a recital presented in and livestreamed from the Theresa Lang Center.


Opposite: SHULIN GUO’s playing— translated into video projections using a system created by QIUYI WU and BOSHAN ZHOU (MFA Design and Technology) and visiting scholar YINAN ZHANG—flooded the stage with color. Top row: In creating formal attire for performers, students chose cool wool, cotton jersey, breathable mesh, and stretch fabrics to help performers stay comfortable while they played.

Far left: Percussionist JESSICA TSANG displays the gloves she wore while playing, which feature motion-capturing sensors (created by MFA Design and Technology students ROSS LEONARDY and JEREMY PETERSON) that controlled projected video animations. Right: After the performance, which opened Parsons Festival 2013, BSO music director MARIN ALSOP and TOMIO TAKI congratulated the faculty members and deans at Parsons and Mannes who led the collaboration. Left to right: RICHARD KESSLER, GABRIEL ASFOUR, MARIN ALSOP, ALISON MEARS, TOMIO TAKI, SABINE SEYMOUR, and ANNE GAINES.

The concert included a piano solo, “The Serpent’s Kiss,” by William Bolcom; a percussion piece, “When Music Is Missing, Music Sings,” by Stuart Saunders Smith; and an ensemble performance of Quintet for Piano and Strings, op. 34, by composer and Mannes professor LOWELL LIEBERMANN. The concert opened with percussionists JESSICA TSANG and PHILLIP GALLO, whose movements directed animations projected overhead. Next came pianist SHULIN GUO, dressed in white, sitting at a white-slipcovered piano. Her playing activated a projector that shone moving patterns on her cape, gown, and piano, while another sent shapes dancing across the backdrop. The ensemble—Mannes master’s students JOE GOTOFF (cello), SAM KELDER (viola), MEREDITH RAMSAY (violin), and KATHERINE LICCARDO (violin) and undergraduate REED TETZLOFF (piano)—wore classic attire altered to make the garments comfortable and appealing. Pleats in Ramsay’s gown, for example, fanned open elegantly as she played. Kelder hopes the enhancements will attract

youthful patrons. “The clothes and visuals offer younger audiences a way into classical music,” he said. “An important part of the collaboration was rethinking concert performances with other New School students.” Attendees were impressed by the union of music and images. Mannes dean RICHARD KESSLER remarked, “It’s inspiring to think that this collaboration could ensure a brighter future for classical music.” Seymour, director of Parsons’ Fashionable Technology Lab, agreed: “I’m excited to see students developing new ways for artists and audiences to experience music in our networked world.” new.livestream.com/TheNewSchool/bso ft.parsons.edu/bso





Last year, students from Parsons and Milano collaborated with Skid Row Housing Trust, a nonprofit providing housing for homeless people in Los Angeles’ Skid Row neighborhood. BFA Architectural Design, Interior Design, and Communication Design

undergraduates worked with students from Milano’s Community Development Finance Lab on proposals to develop the Trust’s properties and community-building projects on Skid Row.



Stevens Institute of Technology entered the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon, a competition challenging students to build energyefficient houses. Focusing on cost-effective strategies, the team won the Affordability category by employing sophisticated energy conservation techniques in designing Empowerhouse, their entry. Habitat for Humanity of Washington, DC, a key partner, then helped relocate the house to a DC neighborhood and convert it to a two-family home over the last year. Empowerhouse is now complete, and two families are moving in. “We’ll monitor the house’s performance to refine the design. With airtight insulation and solar panels, Empowerhouse should cost little to operate,” explained LAURA BRIGGS, Parsons’ lead faculty member on the project. JOHN CLINTON, director of the Environmental Policy and Sustainability Management program and Milano’s lead faculty member on the project, commented, “Students combined affordability and sustainability, resulting in real-world impact.” DC Habitat has been developing houses modeled on Empowerhouse in DC’s Ivy City neighborhood, and the Philadelphia affiliate has similar plans. Using research methods like those employed in designing the original Empowerhouse, New School students will collaborate with Habitat Philadelphia to create sustainable houses.

In addition to influencing Habitat’s approach to affordable housing, Empowerhouse has become a New School benchmark for cross-divisional collaboration and has helped define the career paths of the students involved. ORLANDO VELEZ, MS NONPROFIT MANAGEMENT ’12,

served as Empowerhouse’s director of operations and is now Habitat for Humanity DC’s manager of housing services and a leading proponent of affordable green housing. Asked how the project shaped his current practice, Velez said, “I had to explain each team member’s contribution, something I do daily: coordinate and communicate. With banks, I’m explaining the value of sustainable housing; with architects, the perspectives of builders and financiers.” STEPHEN SCRIBNER, M.ARCH ’11, is creating energy-efficient designs for 1100 Architects, a prominent New York City firm; JEN TERRY, MS NONPROFIT MANAGEMENT

and Milano certificate in Sustainability Strategies ’11, is serving as program manager at Rebuilding Together NYC, a nonprofit providing services to low-income home owners and organizations. Left and top right: Empowerhouse’s porch and deck help the home fit in with the surrounding houses. Middle right: Christopher Culley plays in one of the bedrooms in Empowerhouse, his new home. Bottom right: The project team gathered for a group portrait after the December 2012 ribbon-cutting ceremony marking the opening of Empowerhouse.

The project, called Seeking Shelter Studio, began with a site visit in which students met with staff of the Trust and residents of its buildings. Parsons architectural and interior design students created designs for housing and communal outdoor spaces. Communication design students reworked the Trust’s brand identity and designed materials to raise awareness about homelessness. “We asked ourselves, ‘How can innovation in design and funding bring about lasting change?’” says ALISON MEARS, dean of Parsons’ School of Design Strategies and a lead faculty member in the initiative. All of the projects—bike shares, pop-up parks, street signage, financing plans—addressed this question.


Milano students in the Community Development Finance Lab conducted financial analyses for the Trust, meeting regularly with Parsons students to share their findings. In the end, students developed a comprehensive financing plan for a proposal by YARROW WHITMAN, BFA Interior Design ’12, to redesign the Trust residence and headquarters, which they presented to the Trust. KEVIN McQUEEN, director of the Finance Lab, explains that “working together from the outset lets designers and analysts develop projects more efficiently; students find ways to make the financial resources and designers’ visions come together.” Left: Communication design students created community awareness pieces in response to the question, “What is home?” BOYUN YANG used the motif of balloons to suggest a concept of home as both mobile and anchored in her poster. Top right: YARROW WHITMAN’s redesign of Produce Place allows light and air to circulate and includes a public meeting area and green space. Middle right: The New Hart Hotel redesign by ZACHARY TAYLOR and THOMAS KERRIGAN is a mixed-income housing plan. Bottom right: A sculpture by MICHAEL WOOD illuminates the streets and allows passersby to record short messages in exchange for a lantern.

Reconstruction 3.0: Life is a Journey Parsons and THE NEW SCHOOL FOR JAZZ AND CONTEMPORARY MUSIC

Students from PARSONS, NEW SCHOOL JAZZ, and the JOFFREY BALLET SCHOOL joined forces for the Reconstruction 3.0 competition. Five teams, each composed of students from the three schools, interpreted the theme “Life Is a Journey” through performances featuring original compositions, choreography, and costumes made from reconstructed Louis Vuitton garments. SARA KOZLOWSKI, director of external projects at the School of Fashion at Parsons, said, “The participants used the theme to incorporate reconstruction into their practice and learn to trust in collaboration and improvisation. The teams, guided by faculty, embarked on independent journeys with a shared destination of creation.” NEW SCHOOL JAZZ faculty member and saxophonist JANE IRA BLOOM commented, “New School musicians contribute to interdisciplinary performances, creating alongside students of differing practices and sharing their processes.” The results demonstrated the creative potential of collaboration. Music ranged from live jazz performances to recorded experimental works. The designers employed inventive techniques to construct costumes embodying the spirit and concept of the performances. Headlamps and costumes with embedded lights illuminated a virtual journey in the digital#connect team’s presentation. Wellspring performers wearing billowy garments depicted transitions in a girl’s

life. Fringed, brightly colored costumes flowed along with the dancers of Uncloaked Awareness. Invitation to a Dream used tailored dyed pieces to visually unify dancers enacting a fantastic journey. Chronogenesis opened with a video describing the team’s creative process, then presented a performance of pulsating music and staccato movement. The team designers radically transformed their LV garments, encasing dancers in molded costumes resembling primeval creatures. A jury of experts in fashion, music, and dance selected Chronogenesis as the contest winner. Team members were awarded a trip to the Louis Vuitton workshop in Paris and the historic home of the Vuitton family. Top left: Costumes by JACK BURNS, KUMIE ASAI, and DAVID VALENCIA for Chronogenesis dancers included masks and sculptured neck pieces, shown here; music was composed by Jazz student ARTHUR HNATEK. Top right: Chronogenesis team members documented the process of creating their elaborate garments in a video. Bottom: Costumes worn by Wellspring dancers suggested the flow of life and a watery world entered by a woman on a journey. Music by Jazz student MARTHA KATO; costumes by Parsons students PJ AURELLANO, SIWIMON KHUMAN, and PAULA WOLF.




The Alumni Community: 360° Engagement Parsons alumni demonstrate their commitment to community by bringing talent, experience, and expertise in evolving fields of practice to campus throughout the year.

Learn more about your alumni community at




3 4

Alumni Volunteers Alumni guide students throughout their education and into their careers. At 2012 portfolio reviews, alumni including ANGELA CHEN, BFA FASHION DESIGN ’07, assessed Parsons applicants’ materials. On campus, ALEX FICQUETTE, BBA DESIGN AND MANAGEMENT ’10, a human factors specialist at IDEO, discussed career paths with incoming students. Twenty alumni, including PRIYANKA SEN KUNDU, AAS FASHION MARKETING ’07,

judged entries in New Challenge—a New School competition for which students develop socially innovative concepts— and mentored contestants. Sen Kundu also participated in Fashion Campus NYC, an event organized to help interns begin careers in fashion. Alumni also support students by serving on critique panels and offering internships. This year, ALEX LEE, BFA ENVIRONMENTAL DESIGN ’84, president of OXO International, reviewed student work in a BFA Product Design class. At Parsons’ internship fair, WADE TINNEY, MFA DESIGN AND TECHNOLOGY ’99,

discussed internships at his company, Large Animal Games.

1: Wade Tinney ’99 presents at a thesis symposium of the MFA Design and Technology program. Tinney and his company, Large Animal Games, recruit interns at Parsons internship fairs each year. 2: Priyanka Sen Kundu ’07 at a Fashion Campus NYC event. Sen Kundu serves on the board of the New School Alumni Association. 3,4: Alumni view works by Parsons graduates of years ranging from 1950 to the present at Parsons’ Alumni Exhibition.


Alumni on Campus


New School students and the broader community benefit from on-campus lectures, exhibitions, and other public programs featuring the contributions of Parsons alumni. In February, NATALIE BALTHROP and DEBORAH ENGEL, 2012 graduates of Parsons’ MA HISTORY OF DECORATIVE ARTS AND DESIGN program, curated React: The Feminine Mystique at 50, an exhibition of student work celebrating the anniversary of Betty Friedan’s book, widely considered a catalyst for second-wave feminism. The same month, PAULA HAYES, MFA SCULPTURE ’89, whose ephemeral living sculptures have been exhibited internationally, took part in the School of Art, Media, and Technology Visiting Artist Lecture Series. At The New Future of Design, an AIGA/NY@Parsons event, ZACHARY LIEBERMAN, MFA DESIGN AND TECHNOLOGY ’02, an assistant professor at Parsons, encouraged young designers to focus on the use of digital technology to augment—but not replace—human connections.

5: Deborah Engel ’12 and Natalie Balthrop ’12 chose artwork by New School students for the exhibition React: The Feminine Mystique at 50. 6,9: Reunion attendees gather in Kellen Auditorium for an alumni career panel on entrepreneurialism. 7: Alumni catch up with one another at the reunion reception. 8: Dee MacDonald-Miller ’75, member of Parsons’ board of governors and the board of the New School Alumni Association, greets arrivals.





Parsons Reunion 2012 Each year, alumni gather on campus to reconnect with fellow graduates, instructors, and other members of the Parsons community. Attendance at the 2012 reunion far exceeded that of 2011. Arrivals at the opening reception were greeted by DEE MAcDONALD-MILLER, BFA ENVIRONMENTAL DESIGN ’75, representing the New School Alumni Association board and Parsons’ board of governors. The Parsons Alumni Exhibition, held in the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center, included more than 100 works reflecting the skill and creativity of Parsons graduates. An alumni career panel, introduced by KAY UNGER, FASHION DESIGN ’68, drew a crowd that filled the Kellen Auditorium and an additional space where the discussion was live-streamed. During the panel, BAO-KHANG LUU, MFA DESIGN AND TECHNOLOGY ’05; JENNIFER MARKAS, MA HISTORY OF DECORATIVE ARTS AND DESIGN ’10; and FABIO SILVA, AAS FASHION DESIGN ’04, discussed building and maintaining

entrepreneurial careers.




Across Many Divides The alumni in this issue cross boundaries—disciplinary, geographic, commercial—to interpret the historical moment and express it with creativity and intelligence. Their work brings digital tools into the realm of fine art, draws museumgoers into new worlds, and transforms materials into memorable cultural artifacts.

Evan Roth, MFA ’05 Design and Technology School of Art, Media, and Technology

Slide to Unlock, 2012. Lambda print mounted on acrylic, Dibond® backing, 178 x 125 cm. The image, from Roth’s Multi-Touch Paintings series, represents a finger swiping a touchscreen mobile device. The concept behind the series, says Roth, is to “document the historical moment in which we began using gestures to manipulate pixels.”

Evan Roth has spent years exploring the expressive possibilities of technology. An acclaimed artist, he recently received the prestigious Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Award; his work is part of the Museum of Modern Art’s collection and is exhibited worldwide. His advice to others seeking their own path? “Find something so interesting you’re losing sleep over it—and do that to death.” In Roth’s case, that something is the combination of art and hacking. As a Parsons student, Roth was captivated by the graffiti art he saw on his daily commute. In class, he worked with artists and pored over code, finding connections between art and technology. “I was learning from people who approached problems with a hacker mentality and experimented with code in eye-opening ways,” Roth says. After graduating, Roth established the Graffiti Research Lab and the Free Art & Technology Lab. Now based in Paris, Roth credits New York—and Parsons—with shaping his practice. He strives to create work that “shakes people from their everyday routine, allowing them to see the world in a new way.” www.evan-roth.com

Ghenete Zelleke, MA ’87 History of Decorative Arts and Design School of Art and Design History and Theory

1: “Notable Acquisitions at the Art Institute of Chicago Since 1980,” issue of Museum Studies, vol. 19, no. 2 (Art Institute of Chicago, 1993). 2: Against the Grain: Bentwood Furniture from the Collection of Fern and Manfred Steinfeld. Ghenete Zelleke, Eva B. Ottillinger, and Nina Stritzler-Levine, eds. (Art Institute of Chicago, 1993). 3: Fired by Passion: Vienna Baroque Porcelain of Claudius Innocentius Du Paquier. Meredith Chilton (Arnoldsche Art Publishers and Melinda and Paul Sullivan Foundation for the Decorative Arts, 2009). 4: “Gifts Beyond Measure: The Antiquarian Society and European Decorative Arts 1987–2002,” issue of Museum Studies, vol. 28, no. 2 (Art Institute of Chicago, 2003).

“I thought that as I progressed in my career, my interests would narrow,” says Ghenete Zelleke. “Instead, they keep getting broader.” That’s by design. As the Samuel and M. Patricia Grober Curator of European Decorative Arts at the Art Institute of Chicago, Zelleke is building a collection spanning centuries and styles. Her keen eye, refined in classrooms and museums, and her curiosity are invaluable resources. “You have to be open to extraordinary things—they can transform your collection,” she says. As an undergraduate at the University of Cambridge, Zelleke knew she wanted to “use objects to tell stories.” New York’s unparalleled collections and Parsons’ faculty drew her back to the United States, where she entered the MA History of Decorative Arts and Design program. Working with the collections and staff of Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, she discovered her passion for European decorative arts. Zelleke shares her expertise in decorative arts by contributing to scholarly works for a variety of publishers, including the Art Institute of Chicago. Now, with the help of Emily Robichaud ’07, a fellow graduate of her Parsons program, Zelleke is also finding new ways to help museumgoers explore the collections. She recently developed LaunchPad, an iPad-guided tour of the collection. “Visitors get hooked on learning about objects,” she says. “The app lets you delve into what interests you most.” The tour was a great success, and Zelleke is envisioning new tools to bring her collection to the public. “That’s the legacy of a great education—you’re always expanding on it.”



Anna Hu, MA ’03 History of Decorative Arts and Design School of Art and Design History and Theory

Anna Hu grew up around gems; her father was a diamond dealer. She studied cello and aspired to become a performer, but an injury prevented her from pursuing a music career, and she turned to gemology and art history. Hu found the History of Decorative Arts and Design program at Parsons and began exploring jewelry as an art form. Researching jewelry awakened an interest in designing it, and Hu learned the basics of making pieces. After stints at Christie’s, Van Cleef & Arpels, and Harry Winston, she founded Anna Hu Joaillerie in 2008. Today her colorful pieces are worn by celebrities and sold worldwide. Hu’s jewelry unites a variety of influences, including art nouveau, art deco, and traditional Chinese motifs. A ring and bracelet set she made in collaboration with artist Cindy Sherman reflects themes frequently explored in her work: nature, balance, duality. But her first love, music, continues to inspire her creative process. “I am a composer of jewelry,” she says, “creating my own harmonies with precious stones.” Hu brings together a variety of exquisite materials and cultural references in her work. Top row: Turandot Earrings (emerald, onyx, diamonds, white gold); Gaia Earrings (diamonds, white gold). Middle row: Turandot Ring (emerald, ruby, onyx, diamonds, white gold); Crimson Phoenix Brooch (ruby; white, yellow, pink, and blue diamonds; white gold). Bottom row: Forget-Me-Not Pendant (tanzanite, tourmalines, sapphires, diamonds, white gold); Penelope Ring (ruby, diamonds, platinum). Jewelry photography by Tony Falcone and David Katz.


Robert Wong, BFA ’90 Communication Design School of Art, Media, and Technology

Realizing that an accounting career was not for him, Robert Wong quit his undergraduate program and moved to New York City to study design. On impulse, he chose communication design. “It sounded like something I could do for the rest of my life,” he says. Time has confirmed that Wong’s instincts were right: Over the past two decades, he’s won recognition for redefining his field and creating Web tools used by millions of people worldwide. As chief creative officer of Google Creative Lab, Wong develops engaging campaigns that illustrate the ways Google products are woven into our lives. The Web short Parisian Love, aired during the Super Bowl, shows a succession of Google searches charting the history of an intercontinental romance. For the interactive video The Wilderness Downtown, set to music by Arcade Fire, Wong experimented with Google Maps and the Chrome browser. The idea was born when his team used Google Maps to show Win Butler, Arcade Fire’s singer, Street View images of his childhood home. Wong’s success comes from understanding how technology can support all kinds of creativity. “It’s about human potential,” he says. “Engineers build this amazing technology, and we figure out how it can fit into people’s lives.” This perspective guides Wong’s leadership at Google. “I want to create the best environment for the world’s most talented creatives to make work with the greatest impact.” Wong guided the creation of The Wilderness Downtown for the Arcade Fire song “We Used to Wait.” Made using Google’s Chrome browser, Google Maps’ Street View, and HTML5, the award-winning interactive video foregrounds technology’s emotive potential by taking viewers on an animated trip back to their childhood neighborhoods.


Jenna Lyons ’90 BFA Fashion Design School of Fashion

“I can get lost in making clothes,” Jenna Lyons says from her office, a stone’s throw from the design floor where the J.Crew fall/winter 2013 line is being completed. As the company’s president and creative director, Lyons is one of the most influential people in fashion, dubbed the “woman who dresses America” by the New York Times. She recently was included on Time magazine’s World’s 100 Most Influential People list. Once upon a time she was just another suburban kid searching for her tribe. After winning praise for a floor-length skirt she made in a seventh grade home economics class, Lyons set her sights on a career in design. She assembled a portfolio and enrolled in Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles, near

her hometown. Meeting other aspiring fashion designers gave her a sense of belonging. “It was the first time I ever felt there were people like me out there,” she says. When she got serious about becoming a designer, Lyons knew she had to move to New York. “If I was going to make fashion a career, I needed to be damn sure that I could really do it,” she says. She transferred to Parsons soon after, beginning her journey through the wilds of the New York fashion scene. Lyons fondly describes life at Parsons as “nonstop work.” The creative camaraderie among the students engendered lasting friendships: J.Crew designers Tom Mora (menswear) and Jenny Cooper (childrenswear) were classmates, as was designer Derek Lam.

“Do the thing you would do in your spare time. There’s nothing better than passion.”

After graduation, Lyons searched for another place to call home. “I was a poor 20-something-year-old kid who couldn’t afford to buy a single piece from most of the places I wanted to work,” she said. “When my J.Crew interviewer showed up in jeans, I knew I could be myself at the company.” Today Lyons is responsible for creating a unified brand from the work of dozens of talented designers. Although two decades have passed since Lyons graduated, her ties to Parsons are still strong. She relishes opportunities to return to campus for public events and gives generously to Parsons. When students ask for her secret to success, Lyons has a simple answer: “Do the thing you would do in your spare time. There’s nothing better than passion.”


Giving to Parsons When You Give ... When you make a gift to the Parsons Annual Fund, you enable us to efficiently direct funds where they’re needed most. Giving is a powerful demonstration of faith in a Parsons education and an investment in the future of the university and its students. Alumni giving benefits the Parsons community in a number of ways: You lower financial barriers to art and design education, giving talented and motivated students access to learning experiences they might not otherwise have.

You invest in programs—from local, community-based initiatives to study abroad options—that amplify our students’ opportunities, preparing them to succeed in an evolving, globally networked world.

You increase alumni participation, building awareness of Parsons activities and elevating the school’s reputation in the United States and around the world.

You provide our faculty and students with seed funding for innovative and important projects.

Give today by visiting our website at

www.newschool.edu/igivetoparsons Why I Give ... William Geddes, MFA PHOTOGRAPHY ’06, is a New York–based photographer who came to Parsons in 2004 to study contemporary photography and broaden his repertoire, having already built a successful editorial and commercial practice. He is proud of his Parsons education and credits the school with helping him develop his career and critical abilities. “An art and design curriculum is an invitation to engage with the world in a unique way,” says Geddes. Geddes currently specializes in interiors, lifestyle, portraiture, and video storytelling in a variety of media for corporate, advertising, and editorial clients. In 2009, he received Canada’s Northern Lights Award for Excellence in Travel Journalism and Photography. Geddes has made a gift to Parsons each year since he graduated.

“I give to support the way Parsons educates students to engage the world with independence and daring—and even irreverence.”




OUR SUPPORTERS July 1, 2011–June 30, 2012 $25,000+ Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC) AMD Foundation Jennifer Andrus Burroughs (P) Dominique Bluhdorn Harlan Bratcher Richard Darling /LF USA The Diller–von Furstenberg Family Foundation Estate of Lucille A. Diorio ’75 Angelo Donghia Foundation Renaud Dutreil The Fancy Fifth & Pacific Companies, Inc. Habitat for Humanity of Washington, D.C. Victoria Hagan ’84 Iguatemi Intel Corporation jcpenney Sheila C. Johnson Jones Lang LaSalle Donna Karan ’87 The Karan-Weiss Foundation Karen Harvey Consulting Group Reed Krakoff / Coach ’89 Richard Lounsbery Foundation, Inc. Theodore Luce Charitable Trust Luxury Education Foundation LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, Inc. Dee MacDonald-Miller ’75 Nancy Mahon / The Estée Lauder Companies Inc. E. Peter McLean The New York Community Trust Christina Ong Open Society Foundations Tomio Taki Tess Dempsey Designs Daniel R. Tishman Alyce Williams Toonk (P) Kay Unger ’68 United Nations Office for Project Services Nancy Walker / The Brown Foundation, Inc. of Houston Alan Wanzenberg $10,000–$24,999 Blick Art Materials Camden Securities Company Cheil Industries Inc. Richard and Jean Coyne Family Foundation Cycling Sports Group Fred Dust / IDEO Joe and Gail Gromek Ada Howe Kent Foundation Lanificio Ricasoli SPA MaxMara USA, Inc. MOUSE Estate of Richard Obus ’62 OXO VF Andrea Woodner $1,000–$9,999 Anonymous (2) $1,000 Gina Addeo Lisa Addeo (P) Martha Alexander ’79 American Institute of Architects Lucia T. Benton ’00 Rita Blickenstaff (P) Barbara Braun ’90 The Daniel J. & Estrellita Brodsky Foundation Jason and Melissa Mileff Burnett ’06 Frick Byers ’96 John Calcagno ’73 Center for Architecture Foundation Clarence House William and Jane Corbellini ’86

Joan Davidson ’08 Conor Davis E. William Demaree ’66 District Team Charities Michael Donovan and Nancye Green ’69 Cathy Dove (P) Jeffrey Dove (P) Bill and Pamela Dutra (P) Echo Design Group Edison Price Lighting, Inc. John and Rainey Erwin Marjorie and Robert Feeney ’51 Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund fourthFLOOR fashion talent Gartner Janice W. Gewirtz ’78 Robin Glasser ’90 Ralph Gomory Henry and Barbara Gooss (P) Graphic Communications Scholarship, Award and Career Advancement Foundation, Inc. Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation Hallmark Corporate Foundation Bohdan Hawryliw Estate ’92 Andrew Heffernan ’11 Michael Higgins William Hodgins ’63 IBM IBM International Foundation Jair Lynch Development Partners, LLC Peggy Keenan Jernigan Trust Eka Kasih and Murniati Ngadimin (P) Mr. and Mrs. Matthew Kawamura (P) Richard and Debra Kirsch (P) Kimberly Kyser Peter and Eileen Lehrer Aura Levitas Colette Malouf Karla and Mark McKinley (P) William Min (P) William Morrish and Suzanne Dvells (P) Nautica Enterprises, Inc. D. Brent and Donna Nelson (P) The Neuwirth Foundation Inc. N.E.W. Corporation Sandra Owen ’57 Engin and Ciler Ozgul (P) Betsy and Rob Pitts ’95 Mr. and Mrs. Arthur R. Rabin Raul and Luz Ravelo (P) Lisa Rinaldi ’96 Paul F. Rosengard Scott Sanders ’98 Johan Schouten and Isabelle Schouten Cardon (P) Denise V. Seegal Kouichi Sekiguchi (P) Saleem and Joy Shaikh (P) Anatol Shulkin Memorial Scholarship Fund Joel R. Siegel Margaret J. Smith ’89 Ed Snider (P) Martha Snider (P) Fred and Robin Tedori (P) Elizabeth Terrell ’76 Ivan Thornton TTS Staffing LLC Robert and Delores Viarengo ’95 Nancy Vignola ’76 Angela Weber (P) Eugene Weber (P) Jessica Weber ’66 Andrew H. Weigel Peter S. Wilson Lilian Shiao-Yen Wu Kevin Wu and Christine Liu (P) Brett and Kara Young (P): Parsons parent

re:D (regarding Design) Spring 2013 Editorial Board:  Amy Garawitz, Jen Rhee, Jean Tatge Advisory Board:  Simon Collins, Chris Ferguson, Anne Gaines, Sarah Lawrence, David Lewis, Alison Mears, Sean Moriarty, Peter Taback, Joel Towers Managing Editor:  Julie Novacek Godsoe Editor:  John Haffner Layden Contributing Writers:  Rose Cryan, Kate McCormick, Bruce Nussbaum, Alex Wang, David Worley Art Director:  Ed Pusz Senior Designer:  Paula Giraldo Production Coordinators:  Steven Arnerich, Sung Baik Copy Editor:  Leora Harris Produced by  Communications and External Affairs, The New School Letters and Submissions  re:D welcomes letters to the editor as well as submissions of original manuscripts, photos, and artwork. Unsolicited manuscripts, related materials, photography, and artwork will not be returned. Please include your year of graduation, degree completed, and major or program. Address Changes  Please submit your address changes at www.newschool.edu/alumni. Contact Us  re:D, Parsons The New School for Design 79 Fifth Avenue, 17th floor, New York, NY 10003 alumni@newschool.edu or www.newschool.edu/alumni-info PARSONS (760-830)  Volume 30, No. 4, April 2013 PARSONS is published five times a year, in July, October, November, December, and April, by The New School, 66 W. 12th Street, New York, NY 10011. Periodicals postage paid at New York, NY, and additional mailing offices. Postmaster: Send address changes to PARSONS, 79 Fifth Avenue, 17th floor, New York, NY 10003. Credits:  The Art Institute of Chicago (Alumni Profiles); Eva Bochem-Shur (Portfolio); Chris Hyun Choi (News & Events); Bryan Derballa/J.Crew (Alumni Profiles); Simone Douglas (News & Events); Steve Duncan/undercity.org (Portfolio); Paula Giraldo (News & Events); Jonathan Grassi (Alumni Message, News & Events); Toni Hafkenscheid (News & Events); Marie Havens (Joining Forces); Angela Jimenez/ AIGA (News & Events); Sameer A. Kahn (Alumni Message); David Katz & Tony Falcone (Alumni Profiles); Thomas Kerrigan (Joining Forces); LTL Architects (New & Events); Murray E. McKay (News & Events); PMc (News & Events); Jessica Miller (Alumni Message, News & Events); Julio Piatti (News & Events); Colleen Reinhart (News & Events); Evan Roth (Alumni Profiles); Martin Seck (Alumni Message, Alumni Profiles, cover, Creating a Design-Led University, Joining Forces, News & Events, Portfolio, Why I Give); Erasmo Wong Seoane (Portfolio); Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (The New School’s University Center); Zachary Taylor (Joining Forces); Carlos Teixeira (News & Events); Yarrow Whitman (Joining Forces); Michael Wood (Joining Forces); Boyun Yang (Joining Forces); Connie Zhou (Red-Handed). 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, or veteran or marital status. The New School is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Institution.


RedHanded Connie Zhou, BFA ’09 PHOTOGRAPHY School of Art, Media, and Technology

As an ambitious senior at LaGuardia High School in New York City, Connie Zhou dreamed of a future in fashion photography. A few semesters of shooting urban landscapes while at Parsons changed her mind. Today, Zhou is an independent architectural photographer whose sophisticated work brings her access to rarely seen spaces from Beijing to Finland. Zhou was commissioned to document Google’s complex network of data centers, making visible the technology behind the Web’s invisible connections. Her striking images, such as the Berkeley County, South Carolina, data center shown here, were published everywhere from Wired to NPR’s website. Zhou’s precise, formal compositions depicting modern, often futuristiclooking spaces free of human presence draw in—and sometimes disquiet—the viewer. www.conniezhou.com



Profile for The New School

re:D Spring 2013  

The Alumni Magazine of Parsons The New School for Design. Creating a design-led university

re:D Spring 2013  

The Alumni Magazine of Parsons The New School for Design. Creating a design-led university

Profile for newschool