Designing in Dark Times: an Arendtian Lexicon

To celebrate the release of Designing in Dark Times: an Arendtian Lexicon, we are organizing a series of dialogues to further explore what “dark times” means today and design’s recent positioning towards the expanded field of the society within it through an Arendtian lens.

Each Dialogue will convene several of the book’s contributors to discuss connections between design, politics, and philosophy for acting and designing against, within, and through dark times.

This session will feature Liesbeth Huybrechts (Common Interests), Andrew Shea (Human Rights), Andrea Botero (Humanity), Eric Gordon (Play), and Caroline Dionne (Speech) with the mediation of the book’s editors Eduardo Staszowski and Virginia Tassinari.

Join us on Zoom this coming Wednesday, 14 April, 12:00 ET in this conversation about our present, universal moment navigating darkness, light, and the many shades in between. Register at


About the Book:
Edited by Eduardo Staszoswki and Virginia Tassinari, “Designing in Dark Times: An Arendtian Lexicon” gathers 56 terms drawn from Hannah Arendt’s writings as entry points for authors to explore what “dark times” means today and design’s recent positioning towards the expanded field of the society within it. The book is part of the “Designing in Dark Times” series, published by Bloomsbury, which investigates design’s capacity to offer critical and transformative perspectives on our contemporary condition.

Guy Debord’s Game of War: A Conversation With Emmanuel Guy

Thursday, November 14
6:00 pm
Kellen Auditorium
66 5th Avenue

We know Guy Debord (1931-1994) as a poet, filmmaker, artist, revolutionary theorist, editor and founder of the Situationist International avant-garde movement. But above all else, he was a strategist: poetry, cinema, theory and the avant-garde were, for Debord, means to be deployed in a struggle against the society of his age. To sharpen his strategic instincts and those of his potential comrades, Debord designed a game, the Jeu de la guerre (Game of War), which consisted of a gridded board and a set of pieces representing the various units of an army. Through an exploration of the genealogies, contexts, gameplay and contemporary uses of this object, Emmanuel Guy proposes to consider the implications of this unique ludic and social object for our understanding of Debord, and what lessons might be gleaned from a Situationist art of war.

Emmanuel Guy is a researcher, curator and Assistant Professor of Art and Design History at Parsons Paris The New School.

Presented by the Art and Design History and Theory Program at Parsons School of Design

ADHT Dean, Rhonda Garelick, Joins Bard Graduate Center for BGC Late: Jazz & Conversation in the Gallery


Bard Graduate Center Gallery
18 West 86th Street New York, NY 10024
Thursday October 10, 2019 6:00  – 8:00 pm
*free, registration required

Join The Bard Graduate Center for BGC Late: Jazz & Conversation in the Gallery. See the exhibitions and learn from provocative conversations about the objects on view. Gene Perla and the musicians he brings together start playing at 6 pm. At 7:00 pm, fashion scholars Waleria DorogovaRhonda Garelick, Mellissa Huber and Jan Glier Reeder lead a conversation about women designers, including Gabrielle Chanel, Jeanne Lanvin, Boué Sœurs and Jeanne Paquin. Music Provided by: Troy Roberts (Sax), Rachel Z ( Piano), Gene Perla (Bass) and Clarence Penn (Drums)

Waleria Dorogova is a historian and Ph.D. candidate at the University of Bonn, where she studied Art History and Classical Archaeology. Now based in Vienna, she currently works at the interdisciplinary project Austrian Center for Fashion Research at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. Prior, she was curator of the Goldsmiths Textile Collection and worked for Kerry Taylor Auctions, as well as an independent researcher. Her research and publications center around early twentieth-century haute couture, Russian diaspora in Paris fashion and international relations in fashion. The subject of her dissertation is the history of the Franco-American fashion house Boué Sœurs (1897-1957).

Rhonda Garelick is the Dean of the School of Art and Design History and Theory at Parsons/The New School. She is the author of Mademoiselle: Coco Chanel and the Pulse of History (Random House, 2014); Electric Salome: Loie Fuller’s Performance of Modernism (Princeton University Press, 2007); Rising Star: Dandyism, Gender, and Performance in the Fin de Siècle (Princeton University Press, 1998); and co-editor of Fabulous Harlequin: ORLAN and the Patchwork Self (University of Nebraska Press, 2010). Her column, “Reading the Signs” appears regularly in The Cut (New York Magazine), and she her cultural criticism appears often in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the Brooklyn Rail, and other venues. She is a Guggenheim fellow and has also received awards from the NEA, the NEH, the Getty Research Institute, the Dedalus Foundation, the American Association of University Women, the Whiting Foundation, and the American Council of Learned Societies.

Mellissa Huber is assistant curator of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute and specializes in twentieth-century fashion. Since joining the Museum in 2012, she has assisted the department with research and content development for numerous special exhibitions, including Punk: Chaos to Couture (2013); Charles James: Beyond Fashion (2014); Death Becomes Her: A Century of Mourning Attire (2014); China: Through the Looking Glass (2015); Jacqueline de Ribes: The Art of Style (2015); Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology (2016); Masterworks: Unpacking Fashion (2016); Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and The Catholic Imagination (2018); and the forthcoming In Pursuit of Fashion: The Sandy Schreier Collection (2019).

Jan Glier Reeder is a fashion historian and consulting curator for the Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Music for BGC Late: Jazz & Conversation in the Gallery is guest curated by musician Gene Perla. Perla was raised in New Jersey where he studied classical piano and trombone. After attending Berklee School of Music, he moved to New York and began his musical career as a jazz bassist. He has performed and/or recorded with Chick Corea, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Woody Herman, Elvin Jones, Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra, Chuck Mangione, Joni Mitchell, Buddy Rich, Sonny Rollins, Nina Simone, Frank Sinatra, Stone Alliance, Sarah Vaughan, Nancy Wilson, and others.

Playing The Auditorium – Kabir Carter

Playing The Auditorium
Kabir Carter

October 2, 2019, 5:00 PM to 6:15 PM
The Auditorium (Alvin Johnson/J.M. Kaplan Hall)
The New School, 66 West 12th Street, New York

Register Here:

This event celebrates the sonic possibilities of one of The New School’s oldest and most stunning spaces. Designed in the 1930s by legendary architect Joseph Urban, The Auditorium has served as the venue for notable lectures and performances including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1964 speech “The Summer of Our Discontent.” In a 2004 article, the New York Times described the auditorium as “one of the city’s great modern interiors,” an “egg-shaped room [that] focuses on a broad, arched proscenium,” with a “delicate, layered ceiling” “painted in nine tones of gray.”

Contemporary sound artist Kabir Carter will evoke the architecture and history of this auditorium in performing a unique sound composition, using the space not simply as a site for performance but as an instrument to be played. Sound technicians who have worked at the auditorium over the years have been invited to participate in the performance.

Kabir Carter has physically interrogated and spatially expanded the acoustic and durational limits of performing with microphones. He has installed temporary sound works in a variety of indoor and outdoor locations in several cities. His interests include architectural acoustics, the transmission of sound across medium boundaries, and the affective potentialities of sound-in-space. Carter has been a fellow at Hochschule Für Bildende Kunste Braunschweig and resident at Aalto Acoustics Lab at Aalto University, and LMCC Workspace Program, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. His work has been presented and exhibited at: Nokia Bell Labs, Murray Hill, NJ;  HKW – Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin; Museet for Samtidskunst, Roskilde; and Studio Museum in Harlem, New York. He holds an MFA from Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts at Bard College.
Organized By: Caroline Dionne & Sreshta Rit Premnath
AV and Technical Support: Brian Kase & Sylvan Simon

2019 ADHT Graduate Student Symposium

At Parsons, we celebrate curiosity and critical thinking.
Every path taken broadens our perspectives.
Welcome to The 2019 Parsons Festival ADHT Graduate Symposium
Nexus: An Intersection of Ideas.

Graduate students from the School of Art and Design History and Theory including Fashion Studies, Design Studies, and History of Design and Curatorial Studies will present their work during this two-day symposium that kicks off the 2019 Parsons Festival on Thursday, May 2nd and Friday, May 3rd!

Our speakers come from different fields within ADHT, yet their methodologies demonstrate an interdisciplinary way of thinking and addressing larger issues at the intersection of art, design and theory.
Come learn how historic issues converge with contemporary lives, how material objects carry relationships in society, and how these different fields of scholarship cross paths.

This year we are pleased to continue the tradition of presenting a series of longer talks and multimedia projects each morning. During the afternoon sessions we will have shorter, fast-paced PechaKucha talks. This is a swift presentation style developed in 2003 by the Tokyo-based architecture firm Klein Dytham; its origins and exciting tempo make it ideal for conveying the diverse and rich work of our ADHT students.

2019 ADHT Symposium Planning Committee

Designing after the Designing is Done

Announcing the 2018 Design History Society Conference: Design and Displacement, September 6-8, 2018

Design and Displacement, the 2018 Design History Society Annual Conference, will take place at Parsons Parsons School of Design September 6th-8th, 2018. The conference examines displacement and attendant issues from a design perspective. In addition to the current displacement of people and populations, sessions will consider the theme more broadly and historically, including connections among the displacement of objects and styles, changing technologies, and broad geographies and histories related to landscapes and urban development.

The keynote speakers reflect a variety of methodological approaches and are drawn from a range of academic disciplines. The keynote speakers are: Paul Chaat Smith, Comanche author, essayist and curator; Lowery Stokes Sims, Curator Emerita, the Museum of Art and Design, New York; Tony Fry, designer, theorist, educator and author; and Mabel O. Wilson, architect and architectural historian.

In addition to the conference sessions, delegates are invited to an evening reception at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, as well as a choice of several conference visits including: Flushing Meadows Park, the site of the 1939 and 1964 New York World’s Fair; a curator-led tour of Cooper Hewitt; or a trip to the Paul Rudolph House. The conference gala dinner will be held aboard the “Spirit of New York”, a dinner boat that will sail past some of New York City’s most significant architectural landmarks. For more information please visit the conference website: or contact conference convener,  Sarah A. Lichtman at

Parsons Festival 2018: Art and Design History and Theory Graduate Student Symposium

Thursday, May 3 1000 am – 5:00 pm
Friday, May 4 10:00 am – 5:00 pm

The Bark Room, Room M104
Sheila C. Johnson Design Center
2 West 13th Street
New York, NY 1001

The School of Art and Design History and Theory will sponsor a graduate student symposium as a part of the 2018 Parsons Festival. Planned by HDCS, MAFS, MADS students- the two day event will feature short presentations followed by a reception. All are welcome to attend.

Parsons Festival is an annual series of art and design events in which cutting-edge student work is presented to the Parsons community and the public. The festival takes place at the end of each academic year and includes thesis exhibitions and critiques, thought-provoking public programs, interactive installations, gallery openings, workshops, and special events.

The New School’s Parsons School of Design, which was recently named the number one art and design school in the United States by Top Universities, has been a pioneer in art and design education for more than a century. Based in New York but active around the world, Parsons offers undergraduate and graduate programs in the full spectrum of design disciplines. Critical thinking and collaboration are at the heart of a Parsons education. An integral part of The New School, Parsons builds on the university’s legacy of progressive ideals, scholarship, and pedagogy. Parsons graduates are leaders in their respective fields with a shared commitment to creatively and critically addressing the complexities of life in the 21st century.

Unruly Design: Making, Changing and Breaking Rules

A colloquium in Design Studies, Fashion Studies, History of Design & Curatorial Studies

Friday, March 2, 2018
Opening conversation with Paola Antonelli, Senior Curator of Design and Architecture, MoMA, and Jamer Hunt, Vice Provost for Transdisciplinary Initiatives, Parsons School of Design, The New School
Theresa Lang Center, Arnold Hall 
55 West 13th Street,
New York, NY 10011


Friday, March 2, 2018
Join us for an unruly feast
RSVP required
Wollman Hall, Eugene Lang
65 West 11th Street, New York, NY 10011


Saturday, March 3, 2018
Panel presentations and discussions
Theresa Lang Center, Arnold Hall
55 West 13th Street,
New York, NY 10011

The School of Art and Design History and Theory is pleased to announce its inaugural colloquium, scheduled to take place Friday and Saturday, March 2 and 3, 2018 at Parsons School of Design in New York City.

“Unruly Design” explores the rules that govern design concepts, acts of making and fashion practices both historically and in today’s context. Who sets the rules within a design field, designers, clients, consumers or end-users? How should designers engage the legal structures that bind production and consumption and/or respond to market forces? How might consumers and end-users rewrite explicit or implicit codes of use through practice? How are the rules of design made, changed or broken? Discussions will move across several fields of design— from design history to fashion studies; design studies to intersections of design with artistic practices—taking into account current historical and contemporary perspectives including policy making and service design. This two-day colloquium responds to current discussions on the inherent political and ethical implication of design practices, as well as an expanded cultural terrain where the idea of design has become mainstream. This series of interventions and conversations navigates the complex relationship of design with a certain sense of order—with ways of doing and modes of saying that frame design processes and their outcomes within more or less strict, often conflicting sets of rules. Is today’s design unruly or can it be?

Speakers: Paola Antonelli, Museum of Modern Art; Otto von Busch, Parsons School of Design, School of Design Strategies; Lily Chumley, New York University; Tracy L. Ehrlich, Parsons School of Design, History of Design and Curatorial Studies; Carma Gorman, University of Texas at Austin; Denise Green, Cornell University; Elizabeth Guffey, State University of New York at Purchase; Victoria Hattam, New School for Social Research; Jamer Hunt, Parsons School of Design, Transdisciplinary Studies; Charlene K. Lau, Parsons School of Design, Fashion Studies; Ulrich Leben, Parsons School of Design, History of Design and Curatorial Studies; Andrea Lipps, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum; Lauren Downing Peters, Centre for Fashion Studies, Stockholm University; Nicole C. Rudolph, Adelphi University; Georgia Traganou, Parsons School of Design, Design Studies; McKenzie Wark, New School for Social Research.

Event Schedule

Friday March 2, 2018

5:30 – 7:00pm Opening conversation with Paola Antonelli and Jamer Hunt

7:00 – 10:00pm Unruly Feast

Saturday March 3, 2018

10:00 – 10:30am Participants arrival & coffee

10:30am – 12:00pm Session 1 – RULE MAKING

Drawing Beyond the Academy in Eighteenth-Century Rome 
Tracy L. Ehrlich, Parsons School of Design, History of Design and Curatorial Studies

The world of plenty or a headless chicken?
Ulrich Leben

Dangerous Curves: Disciplining the Fat, Female Body Through Design Discourse
Lauren Downing Peters, Centre for Fashion Studies, Stockholm University

Design wants to be free: copying as democratic practice in the USA
Carma Gorman, University of Texas at Austin

Lily Chumley

12:00 to 1:15pm Lunch break

1:15 – 2:45pm Session 2 – RULE CHANGING

Robes of Resistance: Nuu-chah-nulth Declarations on Cloth
Denise Green, Cornell University

Making and Breaking Rules: Selwyn Goldsmith Designing for the Disabled
Elizabeth Guffey, State University of New York at Purchase

Rule-makers and Their Discontents: Who Changed French Postwar Housing?
Nicole C. Rudolph, Adelphi University

Border Rules: Design and Production across the Rio Grande
Victoria Hattam, New School for Social Research

Design in Autonomy
Jilly Traganou, Parsons School of Design, Design Studies

2:45 to 3:00pm Coffee break

3:00 – 4:30pm Session 3 – RULE BREAKING

Touching and Taking power: Hacking and DIY Activism
Otto von Busch, Parsons School of Design, School of Design Strategies

Joris Laarman Lab: Design in the Digital Era
Andrea Lipps, Assistant Curator, Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum, Smithsonian Design Museum, NY

The “Porn-Again Avant-Garde”: Transgression and the Contemporary Fashion Vanguard 
Charlene K. Lau, Parsons School of Design, Fashion Studies

Design for Concepts
McKenzie Wark, New School for Social Research

4:30 – 5:00pm Closing Reception


Organizing Committee:
Rosemary O’Neill, History of Design & Curatorial Studies;
Caroline Dionne, Design Studies;
Rachel Lifter, Fashion Studies

Students Launch Design Studies Wikipedia Page

Graduate students from the Fall 2017 course Writing for the Public Realm, taught by Susan Yelavich, joined forces to give the discipline of Design Studies its very own nook in the world of Wikipedia.
The Design Studies Wikipedia page was entirely student written, with Professor Yelavich providing editorial support. In the true spirit of crowd sourcing, both the Wikipedia community and Design Studies community at large are expected to contribute to the ever-evolving article moving forward into the future.

Left to right: Susan Yelavich, Diana Duque, Kayla O’Daniel, Mariann Asayan, Irem Yildiz, Kashish Mittal, Lane Rasberry, Narender Strong.

Join Parsons Alumni Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez of Proenza Schouler for a talk at the Met

Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez, founders and designers of Proenza Schouler join journalist Alina Cho for a fast-paced, insightful talk about fashion at the intersection of art and ideas.

Pioneers of style and craft since they launched their brand 15 years ago, the fathers of the perennial “It Bag” known as PS1 will chat with journalist Alina Cho about why they showed their most recent collection in Paris, how they manage their personal and professional relationship, and what inspires them. Named after the designers’ mothers, Proenza Schouler won the inaugural CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund and has won five CFDA awards including Womenswear Designer of the Year and Accessory Designer of the Year.

Use promo code is STUDENTPS to secure your ticket for just $15.


ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT: Komal Sharma, MA Design Studies ’15

Tell us about your career path from New Delhi to New York? Any advice for prospective Parsons ADHT students planning a move to the United States?

Before coming to Parsons, I was working in New Delhi as a journalist, writing for the weekend edition of a paper. I would write stories about people who were doing something new, making something interesting—maybe a beautiful chair, a bicycle of bamboo, setting up a whacky new office, a new clothing line of banana fiber and silk, and such. I never really called it design with a capital D. I had a cozy apartment and good friends. My family was in a city just a few hours away. I was settled and comfortable. There had been a breakup with a boyfriend, and that possibly had something to do with staying up late nights reading random blogs. That’s when I came across Susan Yelavich’s note on the MA Design Studies blog. I instantly knew I had to pursue it. I had to at least try.

However, I belong to that group of people who don’t believe that everything is pure coincidence. One thing leads to another, often over time and so subtly, and you connect the dots only much later. Anyway, I had been to New York a couple of years before I moved there for school. I had walked past The New School, down Fifth Avenue, and sat outside Bobst and watched the world go by. I had walked enough of the city as a tourist to know that if you walk slowly, you’re going to get grumpy looks. I didn’t mind it. I smiled back. And when I moved here, I walked faster myself. There was always somewhere to get to.


So I applied to Parsons—shot an arrow into the dark. After being accepted, I bought a one-way ticket from New Delhi to New York. I packed up my apartment, gave away most of my things, except those that could fit into two suitcases.

As much as my career path was about learning design, and about living in a new city—and exploring the world in general—it was ultimately about self discovery. To go from one city to another, from a job back to school, from a place of familiarity to the complete unknown—all of it is related to getting to know yourself better. To potential students of The New School, or any other school which is far from all that is known to them, I’d say, take a plunge. Do it. You’ll find out who you are.


Do you think of yourself as a New Yorker? If so, what are the terms? And did this identity form before or after graduating?

While I lived in New York I definitely felt a sense of belonging in the first few months. New York not only accepts you for who you are, it also embraces you and sucks you in and celebrates you for all your differences or unexpected similarities. No doubt it can be rough—and maybe I’ve been lucky—but I found friends who smiled a smile of knowing and understanding, who disarmed me with their honesty, who sat at the bar and talked of weird, dark politics of the world and made me feel right at home. Also, strangers. If it’s too much to say that most New Yorkers are friendly, it’s safe to say that they are straightforward and will do what they can to help you. When I was moving into an apartment, I found a bed to buy off of Craigslist. The owner—a slightly grouchy German gentleman—was shocked that I didn’t have any tools (to fix up the bed). “Not even a screwdriver?” he had asked, as if traumatized. I apologetically said I would buy one on my way home. While leaving, he gave me his pocket folding tool set. He said that it was old, that he had used it for a very long time—mostly on his bicycle. He said he wanted me to have it.


Hypothetically speaking, where does one in your field live and thrive outside of New York City?

While attending The New School, I learned a lot inside and outside the classroom. Needless  to say, the city and its people are a tremendous influence. The city becomes a classroom. Other students come from worlds of their own and bring perspectives you don’t ordinarily consider. To be honest, I tried desperately to stay in New York after graduating from the program, to work for a couple of years simply because there is so much happening and there’s so much scope. But visa issues didn’t make it easy.

Returning home had its share of excitement. India has its own set of possibilities. Design is a field that’s everywhere and beyond borders and across cultures. The Parsons Design Studies Program gives you a very open-ended socio-political perspective of design. So even if I took electives as specific as Dutch Design or History of Modern Architecture or Socially Engaged Art Practices, it all essentially gave me an anchor to grasp what is going on in the world. Some people might prefer to learn specifics, to focus, to specialize—and you can do that. But for me, as a journalist, I was seeking coordinates, milestones, directions to navigate the world with a little more knowledge and understanding. When taking up an issue to write about, I want to come from a sensitive place of understanding. Which is also why I don’t find it imperative to be in one particular place or market hotspot suited to my field of work. An IDEO at San Francisco or Museum of Art+Design in New York would be amazing, but a weaver’s studio in rural Nepal that is collaborating with designers to contemporize their weaving traditions is equally fantastic to me. The world is my oyster.



How has life been post MA DS? How do you think the courses have changed your course?

I am back in India now. My central area of study during the program (including my thesis) and after the program has been about the relationship of craft and design. In India, you grow up in a significantly handmade culture. And yet it’s equally industrialized. So the lived experience of craft is very alive and thriving, rather than just a theory that existed pre-industrial revolution. It’s not a complete surprise to me that my research and interest lie in craft and design. Since my return, I have been traveling across India—Pondicherry, Cochin, Kutch, Kashmir—to centers of traditional crafts, to craft+design collaborative studios, to artisan workshops, to design schools. I’ve been doing this with the aim of putting together a travelogue of the craft and design landscape of India.

While I am from India and have lived here all my life, I don’t think I’ve considered and traveled through its length and breadth before, as I’m doing now. And it is certainly my period of study at The New School that has brought this on.  Sometimes one has to detach and go away from the familiar, to look at it from a distance and return with a renewed perception and vigor. And it helps tremendously that while you’re away, you’re among a set of people who put you through painful projects of research and writing.

Next week I’ll be starting a new job: a writer at a newspaper, covering design and culture issues. I’ll be based in Mumbai, which is similar to New York—a fantastical, messy, churning pot. While I write short weekly stories, I hope I will be disciplined enough to continue working on my book and not lose the steam that MA DS and New York has built for me.


Do you think your writing, or your work in general, has changed after graduating from The New School? In terms of voice, insight, theory, and other writing skills, have you compared them with your journalism before Parsons ADHT?

Developing writing skills is a constant, persistent, unending process. And design knowledge evolves and expands as each day passes. While I admit and submit to that, I find that a graduate course really gives you an edge. It gives you the tools to hammer, chisel, crack open something with a little more sharpness and precision. It equips you with a way of thinking and approaching issues.

Having said that, I find that when I write an article and read it a few months down the line, more often than not I’ll be cringing at what I’ve done! But that’s just me and the ghosts I have to battle on my own. And it doesn’t stop me from writing at all. During school’s second semester, I interned at Metropolis Magazine, where I had the opportunity to write. The year after, I interned at Maharam, a textile design studio, doing writing work that was specific to the textile industry. Soon after school, I worked at Herman Miller’s editorial department, writing about their historical, as well as new, products. I think there’s something that has changed, though. I don’t find myself writing for the sake of filling newspaper space. I need to have an original idea, however small, and then build my language around it. I also think there’s more clarity in my narrative. I’ve realized that the more you know, the more there is to know. And that at some point you will miss out on something quite crucial. Yet an independent idea is invaluable. The authenticity of your voice will carry forth your argument despite its limitations. Which is why I want to reiterate that the most valuable thing about this MA program has been to help me develop a way of thinking. My teachers and peers are to thank for that.


To elaborate a little on your area of interest, how do you interact with a pre-modern idea of craft and a post digital state of design? What has survived from the old infrastructure that you find indispensable or, perhaps, unhelpful?

While in theory craft is pre-modern, to me the notion is timeless. It has existed throughout history, even at the heart of the Industrial Revolution, adapting to become part of the industrial model in one way or another. Whether as a division of labor or a specialization of skill, in small or big ways the notion of craft has existed. But yes, the industrial and digital modes of production change the definition and scope of craft quite significantly from its pre-modern conception. To my mind, it is an interesting moment for craft and its renewed relevance simply because the digital model allows for more freedom in conception and production. It gives the maker power over each individual piece, more than an assembly line industrial model has offered. I also see a u-turn in the values that we aspire to. For example, aesthetics like imperfections, unstandardized pieces, the qualities inherent in the handmade. However, there is a tendency to fetishize such qualities. I believe that craft has to be understood not as a category of handmade objects but as a way of thinking and making. Something that requires skill, work hours, material knowledge, and learning by doing. Craft has the capacity to intersect philosophy, social practices, technology, sustainability—in turn embedding a humanity into what we make. Most importantly, craft is about people. I was recently reading a book called Critical Craft, and the authors Clare Wilkinson-Weber and Alicia Ory DeNicola brought the discussion of craft down its expansive anthropological reach. “We believe that research on craft and artisanship has the potential to open up new and evocative questions about the ways that we construct some of anthropology’s most critical contemporary concerns: technology, access to markets, means of production, control over work practices, tradition and innovation, urban and rural spaces, human rights and the environment to name just a few,” they wrote. So yes, I think craft as a way of thinking-knowing-making is indispensable. But to look at it through a nostalgic lens of the beautifully handcrafted objects of yesterday—that’s unhelpful.


Read Komal Sharma’s work here.

ADHT Graduate Student Symposium at Parsons Festival 2017

Join Us for the 2017 ADHT Graduate Student Symposium

All are welcome to attend the annual ADHT Graduate Student Symposium, held May 11 and 12th, 2017 from 11am to 4pm.

Graduate students from MA Design Studies, MA Fashion Studies, and MA History of Design and Curatorial Studies will be presenting their work from the past academic year in the Bark Orientation Room at 2 W 13th Street.

For the full schedule of presentations, click here.

We hope to see you there!


Making Home in Wounded Spaces featured on Archinect

Making Home in Wounded Spaces, an international symposium co-sponsored by the MA Design Studies program of ADHT, and its keynote speaker Lina Sergie Attar were recently featured on design and architecture blog Archinect!

As cities densify and the global population increases, much has been made of reclaiming physical spaces: but how does one reclaim a place that is bound up in tragedy, whether that tragedy was natural or man-made? 

To continue reading about the symposium on Archinect, please visit their page here.
For more information on Making Home in Wounded Spaces, please see the The New School event pages for days one and two of the symposium.

MA Design Studies 2017 Symposium: Making Home in Wounded Places

Reminder: CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS open until Dec. 10th for

Making Home in Wounded Places: Memory, Design, and the Spatial

March 3 – 4, 2017


An international symposium co-sponsored by the MA Design Studies program, Parsons School of Art & Design History & Theory, The Transregional Center for Democratic Studies, New School for Social Research, and the Global Studies program at The New School.

Keynote speaker: Lina Sergie Attar 

Link to The New School events information page


Website live for Making Home in Wounded Places symposium!

Join us on March 3 & 4 for a symposium that looks at the conditions and possibilities for “Making Home in Wounded Spaces: Design, Memory, and the Spatial.” See our new website for details on the conversations and register soon, as space is limited!


Jilly Traganou Awarded Fulbright Scholarship to Conduct Research on the Olympics and Design in Rio

Lecture at the Carioca Center of Design, Rio de Janeiro, August 2016

Jilly Traganou is an architect and Associate Professor in Spatial Design Studies. Her recent publications include a book titled Designing the Olympics: Representation, Participation, Contestation (Routledge, 2016). She is the author of The Tokaido Road: Traveling and Representation in Edo and Meiji Japan (RoutledgeCurzon, 2004), a co-editor with Miodrag Mitrasinovic of Travel, Space, Architecture (Ashgate, 2009) and a contributor to several books, most recently the Routledge Companion to Design Studies (2016). Professor Traganou has been Fellow of the Japan Foundation, the European Union Science and Technology postdoctoral program, Princeton Program in Hellenic Studies, and Bard Graduate Center, as well as a recipient of two Graham Foundation grants. She has most recently been the recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship and spent last summer in Rio de Janeiro conducting design research on the last Olympic Games.


Plot(s) Journal of Design Studies Call for Submissions


The call for submissions for Plot(s) Volume IV is now open. Plot(s) Journal of Design Studies is an annual peer-reviewed publication produced and edited by the MA Design Studies program at Parsons School of Design in New York. As a multidisciplinary journal, Plot(s) attempts to articulate the ways in which design practices shape and transform the human experience.

Submissions are open to graduate students, recent graduates, design practitioners, and academics. Plot(s) accepts a wide range of formats including, but not limited to, academic essays, visual essays, design research, interviews, book/exhibition/film reviews, and design/architectural projects. In addition to this, our website allows for the submission of other multimedia formats such as video and audio projects. Attached below, you will find a detailed guideline for submissions.  The deadline to submit forPlot(s) Volume IV is December 19, 2016.

Please send all submissions to


The Plot(s) Editorial Team

Jilly Traganou’s Designing the Olympics: Book release and lecture in Rio, Brazil


Jilly Traganou, ADHT Associate Professor of Spatial Design Studies, is releasing her new book Designing the Olympics: Representation, Participation, Contestation. (more…)

EVENT: MANIFESTO: From Brazil’s Recent Events to a Manifesto on Latin American Democracy

From Brazil’s Recent Events to a Manifesto on Latin American Democracy
May 10th 2016, 16:15 to 18:00 hrs.
The New School – Wolff Conference Room
6 East 16th Street, Room D1103
In the need to discuss the current political  debates on Brazil and Latin America, from the impending impeachment of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, to the rise of other conservative leaders in neighboring countries, Laura Belik, MADS second year student from São Paulo, is organizing together with a group of students from the Latin American Student Organization Somos OLA the event “From Brazil’s Recent Events to a Manifesto on Latin American Democracy“.  This event is organized in a pecha Kucha style, where 12 guest-speakers were invited to discuss the Manifesto Somos OLA students created as well as to give their overview on the current situation of their country’s scenario. 


Latin America Documentary Series: Discussions of Space

Latin America Documentary ImageOver the month of April, MA Design Studies student Laura Belik, in conjunction with the Design Studies Forum, organized the “Latin America Documentary Screenings: Discussions Of Space,” a series of film screenings and talks focusing on the spatiality and urban environments of the region. Each event highlighted different aspects of the topic of space, with discussion topics ranging from cities, urban democracy, and social justice to public spaces, the commons, and displacement.


Matters of Debate: Mapping Research on the Middle East – New School Student Conference


Visualizing The Middle East and North Africa Film Screenings





The MENA Working Group is an informal network of graduate students and faculty members working at The New School (NSSR, Parsons, Milano) and concentrating their research on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), broadly construed. Launched in October 2015, the Working Group organizes a graduate student conference on April 22nd and hopes to serve the needs and interests of graduate students at TNS. With this series of films, the MENA Working Group offers a space of discussion open to all New School students, Lang and graduate researchers. The screenings are free and will generally be held Thursdays, 8-10p, followed by a peer-led discussion.  Organizer: Salma Shamel Bakr  Faculty contact point: Benoit Challand


Prospective Students Webinar Discussion: November 24th from 12-1pm

Please join Design Studies Program Director, Jilly Traganou, on November 24th from 12-1pm in a webinar to discuss the program!  This webinar will provide you with detailed information about this diverse and innovative graduate degree program. You will also have the opportunity to ask whatever questions you may have. The webinar will also include information about the application and financial aid/scholarship process. We hope you will be able to join us!
To register for this event, please go here and enter your information.


Design and Storytelling at Cumulus Conference on Design Culture in Milan

Pearl Diver_Poster_WEB_4

This June, at the Milan Cumulus conference, I had the pleasure of speaking with colleagues from around the world about how literature—stories in which objects and places act as protagonists—can offer fresh perspectives on design. Mine was just one contribution to a larger discussion organized around the role of narrative in design for social innovation—a conversation organized by Elisa Bertolotti, Heather Dam, Francesca Piredda and Virginia Tassinari. All of them have become treasured colleagues and partners in future collaborations.

Elisa Bertolotti, Heather Dam, Francesca Pileddi, Virginia Tassinari

This summer, Elisa, Heather, Francesca, and Virginia will release their first collection of essays on design and storytelling entitled The Pearl Diver, published by DESIS Philosophy. (For a preview of my article in that collection, see:

Ezio Manzini, Scientific Chair

Our session on Storytelling and Design was just one facet of the conference theme conceived by conference chair Ezio Manzini. Ezio asked us to examine the dynamic between culture and design in light of the changes in practice today. Questions were raised by Manzini about issues of rupture and continuity with the past. He suggested that in rethinking the culture of design today, we might learn both from the individual genius of Leonardo da Vinci, and from the work of groups such as Collecting Cultures, whose impressive director Anna Detheridge was among the opening night speakers as well. (See:

Self-portrait and Vitruvian Man, Leonardo da Vinci, c. 1490

The introduction of the 15/16th-century Italian polymath into the conversation about the future and culture of design was startling (even in an Italian context). For surely, Manzini is not a traditionalist or remotely nostalgic. My own reaction (which may not or may not reflect the tenor of the conference) was that as design pursues its righteous and necessary ambition to address pressing social and environmental problems, the activity of private reflection has come to be tainted with elitism. Our urge to be social may be at risk of endangering the nurturing possibilities of retreat.

Detail of poster wall at Storytelling and Design

Taking a break while being part of the conversation

Clearly, the pendulum of design culture needs to oscillate between the two states. Moreover, some of us have greater affect working alone for long periods of time before joining the wonderfully messy fray of democratic exchange that is design for social justice. At least this is my defense as I begin my sabbatical this July and embark on the hermetic project of writing the book that the Storytelling and Design session took me one step closer to formulating—A Literature of Places and Things: Reading and Writing Design.

Susan Yelavich

Matter(ing) by Design Symposium


Register for Matter(ing) by Design at:

Special lecture: How Does Mapping Make Up the World?


Join us for a special lecture:

“How Does Mapping Make Up the World?”

Visiting Professor Peter Hall
Design Department Head, Griffith University Queensland College of Art, Brisbane, Australia

Tuesday, February 10th @ 5:00PM
Hirshon Suite: Room 205 in Arnold Hall (55 W. 13th Street)

Please RSVP by contacting Jenn Soong (

Save the date: Matter(ing) by Design


MA Design Studies and “Matter(ing)” at Carnegie Mellon University and Fallingwater

By Mae Wiskin

The first thing I thought upon landing in Pittsburg was how much I wished I had packed gloves. I was freezing, but also completely enlivened by the fact that November had already come and it was finally time to participate in a symposium I had been looking forward to since the start of fall semester. From November 7 – 9, Parsons The New School for Design – Design Studies masters students collaborated with the doctoral candidates of Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Design on a workshop concerning ‘Mattering.’ More specifically, students from both Universities discussed and delved into the notion of “(How design makes) What matters (Matter for us).”


Parsons Design Studies MA students Mae Wiskin and Rachel Smith enacting a scenario of delegated morality by design at the Matter(ing) workshop at Carnegie Mellon University.


The one-day symposium explored the dynamic interactions between human behavior and information technologies, as well as the multidimensional relationship designed objects share with the concept of morality. Prior to arriving at CMU, each of us was asked to come up images of twenty things that “delegated morality,” things such as seatbelts, security devices, and automatic timers that regulate energy consumption. Once I was able to wrap my head around how we delegate our moral agency to things, I could not maneuver through New York City without constantly noting such objects. It became a sort of game and encouraged me to question what it means to be human in an increasingly monitored, digital world. The issues we explored over the course of the symposium paved the way for a larger scale design thinking conference that will be held at Parsons in March 2015.

Once the workshop ended, everyone slowly parted ways and disappeared into the cold Pennsylvania air to enjoy the pleasures of Pittsburgh on a Saturday night. The discourse presented at the symposium was intellectually rigorous; I left Carnegie Mellon feeling invigorated and excited to explore the notion of ‘mattering’ further.

Parsons MA DS Students at Fallingwater. Back row, l to right: Laura Sanchez, Mae Wiskin, Susan Yelavich, Misha Volf, Olly Bolton, Estefania Acosta, Laura Wing; middle row: Micki Unterberg, Rachel Smith, Sonja Holopainen, Quizayra Gonzales; front row: James Laslavic, Gene Duval, Maggie Lin, Juan Pablo Pemberty, Veronica Uribe.

Parsons MA DS Students at Fallingwater. Back row, l to right: Laura Sanchez, Mae Wiskin, Susan Yelavich, Misha Volf, Olly Bolton, Estefania Acosta, Laura Wing; middle row: Micki Unterberg, Rachel Smith, Sonja Holopainen, Quizayra Gonzales; front row: James Laslavic, Gene Duval, Maggie Lin, Juan Pablo Pemberty, Veronica Uribe.

The following morning, before returning to New York, our energetic director, Susan Yelavich, treated us all to a trip to visit Fallingwater (1934-39), a very rare home built over a waterfall by America’s most famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. It was a beautiful crisp autumn day and the modernist icon was absolutely awe-inspiring. We all left rejuvenated and ready to return to the city with a fresh sense of perspective and energy. The trip was really special and reminded me not only how lucky I am to be a member of a program that encourages disruptive and innovative thought, but also, that it was time to buy winter gloves.

Upcoming Design Forum Events

11.6 meeting flier
THURSDAY, Nov 6th // 7 PM
University Center, Room 201
Get a behind-the-scenes look at “How Things Don’t Work,” the Victor Papanek exhibit currently on view in the Kellen Gallery on campus.
Students from MFA Transdisciplinary Design who participated in the development of the exhibition will share their experience collaborating with the University of Applied Arts, Vienna, creating their contributions, and what they hope the format and content of the exhibition will provoke.
11.13 meeting flier
THURSDAY, Nov 13 // 7 PM
University Center, Room 201
This week, Design Forum invites you to join in the discussion of the food industry, food design, and culinary businesses. MS Strategic Design & Management students Romy Raad and Natalie Neumann will present on their blogging venture and MA Design Studies student Yoko Wang will discuss her research.
Rad&Neu will lead a brainstorming session on how food can be used as a catalyst for productivity, creativity,and community.


Design Forum: Fall 2014 Sharing Sessions

Animation by Cindy Suen and Skip Dolphin Hursh

Network. Collaborate. Learn.

1 Presentation + 1 Workshop +  1 Moderator

Design Forum Fall Sharing Sessions will provide a platform to present and workshop current student research. Graduate students from programs across all divisions of The New School are welcome and encouraged to participate and provide feedback. Join us at our first session to hear more about how to sign up to run a workshop, present your research, or moderate the discussion. While the task of the presenters will be to engage the group in a lively discussion on the subject matter, the forum will serve as a resource of interdisciplinary critique and debate of issues raised and topics addressed. Students are encouraged to share misunderstandings, confusions, and difficulties as well as working techniques and insights.

Join us for our first meeting!
Thursday, September 25th, 7:30pm
80 Fifth Ave., Room 802

Refreshments will be served. 

About Design Forum

The purpose of the Design Forum is to convene graduate students across all divisions of The New School interested in furthering design discourses as they relate to design practice and the field’s social, political, and economic contexts. The Design Forum shall serve as a primary vehicle for actively facilitating interdisciplinary dialogue about design-related issues.

MA Design Studies Orientation Events

The MA Design Studies program welcomed its third cohort with a series of Orientation events designed to introduce everyone to Parsons, the New School, and New York City; and, most of all, to get to know each other a bit before diving into classes. The week began on Monday, August 18th, with official welcomes, followed by informal introductions, toasts, and a wide-ranging conversation with professors Clive Dilnot and Jilly Traganou at Director Susan Yelavich’s loft in Soho.

Appropriately for a program that explores values and ideologies embodied by design, on Tuesday we visited the Guggenheim Museum for a guided tour of Italian Futurism, 1909-1944: Reconstructing the Universe.

Left to right: Micki Unterberg, Anke Gruendel, Soohee Cho, Gene Duval, Sonja Holopainen, Laura Sancez, Estefania Acosta, Quizayra Gonzales, Laura Belik.

Left to right: Micki Unterberg, Anke Gruendel, Soohee Cho, Gene Duval, Sonja Holopainen, Laura Sancez, Estefania Acosta, Quizayra Gonzales, Laura Belik.

On Wednesday, Bodies in Balance: The Art of Tibetan Medicine at the Rubin Museum of Art offered a contemplative respite in the middle of a week of concentrated informational meetings with librarians, archivists and student services administrators.

The day after exploring bodily health at the Rubin, we shifted gears on Thursday and looked at how design can contribute to the health of the city and its residents.  We were hosted at the loft of Marpillero Pollak Architects in Tribeca, by MAP partner Linda Pollak, who shared insights into how she and her partner Sandro Marpillero approach the design of urban open spaces in conjunction with residential architecture, museums, and cultural institutions.  After a conversation that ranged from the efficacy of New York City’s project to plant a million trees to designing for differently abled bodies, we were treated to a tour of MAP’s live-work loft with its own unique network of open spaces.

Thoroughly saturated, but with a better sense of each other and the program they’ve embarked on, the Class of 2016 closed out a week by celebrating with all of  the other new MA and MFA students at a reception on Thursday evening at Parsons—a reception that marked not just the end of Orientation but the beginning of a host of  exciting new academic trajectories.

Left to right: Estfania Acosta, Quizayra Gonzales, Laura Belik in Marpillero Pollak Architects studio.

Left to right: Estfania Acosta, Quizayra Gonzales, Laura Belik in Marpillero Pollak Architects studio.

 Left to right: Architect Linda Pollak, Misha Volf, Quizayra Gonzales

Left to right: Architect Linda Pollak, Misha Volf, Quizayra Gonzales

“Thirst” at Proteus Gowanus

Opening on Saturday, March 22nd, “Thirst” is the second exhibition sponsored by the Proteus Gowanus gallery on the annual theme of “Water.” Curated by Lydia Matthews with a transdisciplinary group of New School graduate and undergraduate students as well as numerous collaborators, “Thirst” explores the uses and abuses of water in the local and global context. Though often taken for granted, water is a precious but disappearing resource, a biological necessity, an environmental concern and a metaphor for spirituality, purification and healing. This new exhibition asks us to consider our complex relationships with and need for water in provocative ways. “Thirst” continues Proteus’ laboratory-like, community engaged exhibition style including installation, practical workshops, roundtable discussions and tours around Gowanus. The model of engaging a curatorial theme through different exhibitions and various partners over the course of a year allows a long term and multi-faceted exploration.

It was a perfect fit for Professor Matthews and her “Curating as Social Practice” students who have been studying and developing experimental curatorial platforms. They will transform Proteus Gowanus into ThirstLab, a living laboratory with an evolving open archive, and will host a series of cross-disciplinary, hands-on workshops on topics as diverse as water-based crafts, the politics of fresh water access, hydroponic farming and liquor distillation, and therapeutic water sports. Juan Pablo Pemberty, an MA Design Studies student and member of the contributing curatorial Current Collective, explained, “Its not an easy thing to do; it’s not something you do in a month. It needs planning and investigation to fit the issues you want to show in an exhibition format. But I’m more than happy with the result of “Thirst”, it will be a show where our relationship with water is explored from very different realms, a mixture of ideas and conceptions.”

“Thirst” will be on view from March 22nd at Proteus Gowanus at 543 Union Street, New York, NY 11215. See the Proteus website for further description of events and activities:

Narratives and Design Studies on Video

If you missed the Narratives and Design Studies symposium, here are a few of the presentations for your viewing pleasure. 

Welcome Remarks – Susan Yelavich

Narratives of History: Peter Hall and Phillip Lopate (Keynote)

Olympic Design

Narratives of Artifice and Technology

Narratives of Social Engagement

Design and Gender

Photo highlights of Design Studies Symposium

Media designer and design educator Sean Donahue discussed the subversive capabilities of design that can be used to incite action; here he shows a student project in which Doritos were detached from their consumerist brand identity and displayed as individual ingredients.



Parsons Narratives and Design Studies conference

A Better World by Design 2013 Conference

A Better World by Design is an internationally-acclaimed conference held annually at Brown & RISD campuses in Providence, RI. Connecting students, professionals, and individuals from different disciplines, it strives to build a global community of socially-conscious innovators. This year’s conference will be held from September 27 to 29.


Admitted Graduate Students Reception

Last Thursday, June 25th, we welcomed the incoming graduate students of the New School. The event was a wonderful opportunity for students from different programs to meet and socialize, ask questions, get advice, and learn about what it’s like to be a part of the New School. It was also a great way to usher us into the new school year, which is starting in less than a month!


Investigating New Design Practices

dppbooklet-coverIn Design Practices & Paradigms, members of the inaugural MA Design Studies cohort at Parsons explored the scope and ambitions of design in the 21st century. Students interviewed designers and mapped their practices. They wrote about their approaches to production, collaboration, and authorship as well as the social and intellectual context that shape their respective projects and values. Featured here are three case studies from Design Practices & Paradigms.

The Business of Design 2012: Design Thinking

On June 13, 2013, Director Susan Yelavich spoke about the MA Design Studies program at an event discussing the changing landscape of design practices, processes and productions. For more information click here.


The Prescience of George Nelson

Last November the Yale School of Architecture hosted a two-day symposium on the work of seminal architect, designer, writer and teacher George Nelson.  Susan Yelavich was invited to attend and review the event for the School’s journal Constructs. (more…)

Negotiating the Terrain of Design Studies: Research, Reflection, Practice

New dates: Friday, March 1, and Saturday, March 2, 2013
Friday: 66 West 12th Street, Room 407
Saturday: Wollman Hall, 65 West 11th Street, 5th floor
Free and Open to the Public

To mark the inauguration of Parsons’ MA Design Studies program, this symposium looks
at the intellectual currents that charge the growing field of design studies as a branch of
the humanities and the social sciences, and a critical force in industry. An international
roster of scholars, practitioners, and entrepreneurs will consider how design both shapes
specific experiences and embodies fundamental assumptions about our relationship to,
and with, the world and each other. Together, they will explore the unique potential of
design studies to operate between among the realms of research, analysis, and advocacy.

Friday, March 1, 5:00 to 7:30 pm

Welcome: Joel Towers, Dean, Parsons; Sarah E. Lawrence, Dean, School of Art and Design History and Theory, Parsons

Introduction: Susan Yelavich, Director, MA Design Studies program, Parsons


“Understanding and Designing the Morality of Things”
Peter-Paul Verbeek, Socrates Chair, Philosophy of Man and Technology, University of Twente, The Netherlands

Saturday, March 2, 9:30 am to 5:00 pm

9:30 am Breakfast

10:00 am    Welcome

Tim Marshall, Provost, The New School

10:15 am – Noon Session I: The Values in (and of) Reflective Research

“The Present-day turn towards Design Anthropology”
Alison J. Clarke, Professor, Design History and Theory, University of Applied Arts, Vienna

“Design Studies: The Challenge to a New Field”
Victor Margolin, Professor Emeritus of Design History, University of Illinois at Chicago 

Moderator: Clive Dilnot, Professor, Design Studies, Parsons 

Noon – 1:30 pm Lunch Break

1:30 pm – 3:30 pm Session II: The Values in (and of) Applied Research 

Introduction to the afternoon
Susan Yelavich

“Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Design – But Were Afraid to Ask”
Jürgen Häusler, Chairman, Interbrand Central and Eastern Europe; Professor for Strategic Business Communication at the University of Leipzig

“Design as an Essentially Political Activity—Especially within Business”
Hugh Dubberly, Principal, Dubberly Design Office, San Francisco

Moderator: Cameron Tonkinwise, Director, Design Studies, Carnegie Mellon University

3:30 pm Break

4:00-5:00 pm   Summary Roundtable: Design Studies Perspectives

Respondent Panelists:
Orit Halpern, Assistant Professor, Committee on Historical Studies, New School for Social Research
Aleksandra Wagner, Assistant Professor, Sociology, New School for Public Engagement
James Dodd, Associate Professor, Chair Philosophy, New School for Social Research
Moderator: Susan Yelavich, Parsons

Conversation with Lorraine Wild: Expanding the Purview of Communication Design

Lorraine Wild

Thursday, Oct. 25th, 9:30-11:00 am
Room 1200,12th Floor of 6 E 16 St.

On Thursday, Oct. 25th, designer Lorraine Wild will join MA Design Studies program director Susan Yelavich in an informal discussion about the various modes of practice she sustains: writing, teaching, designing, publishing and (most recently) rethinking communication strategies in the context of a museum. (more…)

Experiments in Design Research: Expressions, Knowledge, Critique

The fifth Nordic Design Research Conference, Nordes ’13: Experiments in Design Research: Expressions, Knowledge, Critique takes place in Copenhagen/Malmö in 2013 June 9th – 12th.

Design is closely affiliated with the experimental, which is as an exploratory and probing undertaking. What does this mean in the context of design research? Today, design research relies on various and divergent notions of design experimentation and ideas about their value and use. In one corner, experimentation is conceived of as designerly exploration into, for instance, materials, technologies, and expressions. In another corner, design experimentation is shaped according to hypothetical-deductive models of knowledge production inherited from science and engineering. Yet, in a third corner, design experiments are explored as a means for promoting social change or as a critique of political and ethical values. For instance, this can take the form of critique through fiction and utopias. This raises a set of central questions for design research: How is design experimentation similar and different from experimentation in other research fields and areas? What is the relation of exploration vis-à-vis experimentation in design research? How is it possible, if at all necessary, to provide a consistent account of research methods underlying experimental design research? How can design experiments be staged other than as highly idealized probing situations? What is the role of design experiments as aspects of a critical aesthetic practice? (more…)

Toward a New Cosmopolitanism

Monday, May 14, 2012, 7:00-9:00 p.m.

Toward a New Cosmopolitanism, an event at The Storefront for Art and Architecture with David Adjaye, Stan Allen, Anthony Appiah, Teresita Fernández, Enrique Walker and Sarah Whiting, will address themes from and celebrate the release of two books (From Rules to Constraints and Authoring: Re-Placing Art and Architecture). Toward a New Cosmopolitism presents 6 manifestos on contemporary understandings of art and architecture emerging between global and local contexts.


Histories and Theories of the Modern Interior

Barbara Penner, Senior lecturer, Architectural History, Bartlett School of Architecture
Friday, April 27th. 6:15. 25 East 13th Street, 2nd Floor
Parsons The New School for Design
A lecture series curated by Ioanna Theocharopoulou, SCE and Sarah A. Lichtman, ADHT
X is for An Expert on Bathrooms: Alexander Kira & Peter Greenaway’s 26 Bathrooms
Hayden White once noted, “Every discipline [is] constituted by what it forbids its practitioners to do.” In this talk, I adapt White’s statement to argue that disciplines are equally constituted by what they allow practitioners to speak about or how they are allowed to speak. Bathrooms and toilets test the boundaries of disciplinary limits like no other subject. Toilets are not invisible in art and design discourse – far from it – but they are spoken about in very particular ways in order to contain their taboo aspects.The first part of this talk considers the ways in which toilets have been “cleansed” within architecture, specifically through the modernist language of formalism. In the second part, Peter Greenaway’s rare 1985 film, 26 Bathrooms will be screened. The film wittily (but always sympathetically) exposes the restrictions of such cleansed discourse through the figure of the Bathroom Expert. This figure was loosely based on Alexander Kira, whose unique bathroom studies at Cornell University resulted in the 1966 book, The Bathroom, now regarded as a classic of “user-centred” scholarship. Through the figure of the Expert, Greenaway probes the silences or strategic gaps in scholarly discourse, in a way that continues to be highly relevant today.

MESDA Conference on American Material Culture

The seventh biennial MESDA Conference for recent research in the field of early American material culture and decorative arts will take place on October 25-27, 2012 at the East Tennessee Historical Societyin Knoxville, Tennessee.The conference provides the only major forum for scholarly presentation and interaction on American material culture and decorative arts with specific emphasis on the South.The MESDA Conference includes the Gordon Seminar, a day of presentations on a variety of topics in American material culture.

23rd Biennial of Design: Design Relations


Participation in the 23rd Biennial of Design

The Biennial of Design (or BIO, from its Slovene acronym) is an international design exhibition that, through its selection of well-designed works and emphasis on quality, originality, and innovation, presents current trends in contemporary design. The exhibited works are eligible to receive the Biennial’s awards for the best designs of the past two years.

With a tradition of 48 years, BIO is one of the world’s oldest international design events. With the publication of these Rules for Participation, the Organiser of the Biennial, the Museum of Architecture and Design, is inviting submissions for the 23rd Biennial of Design. At the same time we are announcing the appointment of Margriet Vollenberg and Margo Konings, from the studio Organisation in Design, as the curators of BIO 23. The curators have decided on the theme for BIO 23, namely, “Design Relations”, and they will select the works to be exhibited. In making their selection, they will be guided by the criteria of functionality, sustainability, commercial viability, cultural significance, social importance, the concept of the work, the use of materials, the production process, and aesthetics.


Bringing it Back: Design and Revivals

Bringing it Back is a symposium that looks at revivalist movements in the history of the decorative arts and design. The symposium examines design’s role as a cultural metaphor and as a mediator of sociopolitical perspectives. This event considers how design engages with the past and considers revivals from a variety of perspectives. Whether Egyptian, Greek, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, Colonial, or Modernist, revivals can look back just a few decades or millennia. Revivals can be soberly archaeological or promote a historical fantasy. Some revivalist movements are primarily stylistic, while, for others, idealized notions of history are invested with social, political or moral meaning in the present. (more…)

Design Frontiers: territories, concepts, technologies


The 8th ICDHS conference, “Design Frontiers: territories, concepts, technologies,” aims to discuss how design history and design studies may push the limits of design knowledge. The frontiers of design may be challenged by the exploration of new territories, by the establishment of new concepts, by the emergence of new technologies, as well as by rediscovering the past and by finding new ways of applying current wisdom. Paper proposals are being accepted until February 29, 2012. (more…)

International Conference on Design Creativity

The 2nd International Conference on Design Creativity will provide a forum to discuss the nature and potential of design creativity from both theoretical and methodological viewpoints. It will include panel discussions on the directions for design creativity research. The aim of these discussions is to develop directions for future research on design creativity. (more…)


The School of Art Design History and Theory at Parsons and the History Department at the New School for Social Research are sponsoring Design/History/Revolution: An Experimental Workshop at the Frontier of Art, Design, Politics and Historical Study on April 27-28, 2012. This conference explores the relationships between design, history and revolution and brings together scholars and practitioners from the humanities, sciences, social sciences, design, and art to consider how design acts as a historical agent, a contested category, and a mode of historical analysis. (more…)

Design and Emotion: Out of Control

The 8th International Conference on Design and Emotion, Out of Control, will examine how a world driven by uncertainty, crisis and chaos demands different responses from design (as a community, as a practice and as a process). Conference participants will consider how design acts as both a problem-solving activity and a springboard to a creative future. The emphasis is on the spectrum of human emotion experienced at the macro (socio-cultural), micro (personal), meta (philosophical), processural (methodological) and strategic levels. (more…)

College Art Association Conference

Readers of the Design Studies blog might care to take note of the upcoming College Art Association Conference, which will be held in Los Angeles this coming February. Advance registration closes Friday, January 20. Be sure to attend Design Studies Forum: Design, Thing Theory, and the Lives of Objects. Details after the jump…


Program Contact

Caroline Dionne, Program Director

Program Update

Parsons is not currently admitting new students to this master’s degree program. Parsons is now offering a Graduate Minor in Design Studies that is designed to complement the MA History of Design and Curatorial Studies and other graduate programs across the university in design, liberal arts, and social research.