Student Profiles

Published on: June 3rd, 2013

It is time to give a warm welcome to the second class of Design Studies students, joining us from as far away as China, Taiwan, India and many different parts of USA.

Ruo Ma

Hi, my name is Ruo Ma, (or you can call me Mya). I am from Beijing, China. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature, but in pursuing that degree, I realized that I like design, so I travelled to Atlanta and got another Bachelor’s Degree in Technical Communication with a concentration on digital arts and graphics. While I was studying graphic design, I realized that graphics are not merely pure art, but also a way of communication. For me, a piece of graphic design or advertisement can easily and effectively deliver the message embedded in it to its viewers. Before graduation, and due to my summer internship in a design firm in China, I narrowed my interests towards typography design. I also finished a research project on the interaction between typography design in Chinese film posters and American film posters. It is my pleasure to join the Design Studies program at Parsons. I look forward to doing more research on design, especially graphic design, as a way to communicate with people and as a mirror to reflect human life. Although I received my admission letter two months ago, I am still excited and cannot wait to start my journey at Parsons.

Ruo Ma

James Laslavic

Hello world. My name is James Laslavic, and I’m honored and excited to be enrolling in the MA Design Studies program at Parsons The New School for Design.

I began my undergraduate studies at Academy of Art University, where I majored in Web Design & New Media with an emphasis in user experience design. Later, I transferred to Carnegie Mellon University, where I had a major in Communication Design, a minor in Ethics, and a healthy sampling of courses in Psychology. My proudest accomplishment to date is graduating with honors in May 2013.

Currently, I’m in San Francisco working at Cooper as an interaction design intern, wrestling with mounting temptations to stay. I’m learning a lot, doing meaningful work, and enjoying the company of my awesome coworkers. However, the particular version of Great American Designer™ that I aspire to become is equal parts practitioner and academic, and I’d like to see my career culminate in a professorship one day. For these reasons, Parsons is the right next step for me.

One way that I understand design is that it’s about empathy and discovery, specifically exploring where “achievable” intersects with “ideal.” Viewing design through this lens, it’s an expression of humanism through wondering what the world might be like, then making contributions to help get there. All design projects (or actions) begin with intentions, which too often arise merely from unexamined, overconfident, unreliable gut feelings about what’s good. So, if I could recommend one book to designers (or anybody), it wouldn’t necessarily be found in the Art & Design section. Ask me today and the book would be Normative Ethics by Shelly Kagan.

I don’t think it’s possible to effectively design anything without beginning to understand what our motivations are, how we makes decisions, what contexts we are living in, and so on. If we designers can get more insight into the hopes, fears, capacities, and limitations of humans, then we’ll come up with more concepts for things that could improve everybody’s lives. This is why we shouldn’t settle for merely memorizing patterns and best practices. We need to push ourselves to understand, correct, and expand the encompassing theories.

As a design practitioner and as a design theorist, I want to enable the next wave of benevolent invention. I look forward to meeting my classmates and professors, and can’t wait to see what we come up with.

Maggie JhenYi Lin

Hi everyone! I’m from Taiwan – a lovely island in East Asia. It’s a great pleasure to be back in school after five years of working in public relations and brand management. While cultural and creative events have long been my leisure activities, I think it’s a great time to combine my interests and work experience and upgrade them through an interdisciplinary and in-depth academic training.

The word “design” shouldn’t be confined to consumer products alone. It should also encompass art, architecture, education, management and experience. In light of an emerging emphasis on the creative industry around the globe, I want to research how to engage in effective dialogue among, but not limited to, non-profit organizations, public sectors, designers and enterprises. Design thinking is a process that solves problems collaboratively and innovatively and design communication is the area I’m particularly interested in.

Here I would like to share an inspiring speaker on Steven Johnson and his speech: “Where Good Ideas Come From?” With his quote: “Chance favors the connected mind”, I’m greatly looking forward to the new adventure in Design Studies at Parsons in New York!

Rachel Meade Smith

I graduated from New York University with a degree in Anthropology in 2010. Since then, I have worked as a design assistant for a fair-trade jewelry and textile company, a restaurant manager, and a studio and project manager for a design practice. Some time in the last two years, as design increasingly became a point of public conversation, I grew frustrated with the industry’s lack of social responsibility and, particularly after reading Victor Papanek’s Design for the Real World, unnerved by the ramifications of bad design. My background in cultural anthropology, design, and writing led me to search for an interdisciplinary program fusing these interests with both active and scholarly intentions, and one engaging design’s potential for insight and impetus.

My interests lie in the narrative quality of domestic space and how we attach memory and meaning to architecture. It’s exciting to find a field allowing the study of design from a non-consumerist angle, and one in which I can apply my interests in ethnography and writing. I intend to take full advantage of the intimacy of the program and the relative novelty of the discipline, and am grateful to Parsons for granting us the opportunity to be formative members of this field.

Kate Moyer

I recently graduated from the University of St Andrews in Scotland with a degree in art history. I also took various courses in business and philosophy that helped developed my curiosity in the design realm and its involvement within all aspects of human culture, society, and politics.

After several years of studying the art historical past, I am anxious to discover the new, to look into the future. I am interested in design’s visual and aesthetic aspects as well as the various traditions concerning creativity. I am also fascinated by the evolution in treatment of the designed ‘object’ due to our strong modern day reliance on material items.

I am very excited for this program because I believe it will not only focus on design history, but also discuss the various factors and social issues that influence aspects of the design process. By shifting my attention from art history to design studies, I hope to apply the knowledge I gain from the Parsons Design Studies Program to the future projects I become involved with.

Natalie Nielsen

Hi everyone, my name is Natalie. I’m from London although I’ve been in New York for the last 5 years. I just finished my BA in anthropology with a minor in art history and for the past year have been working in public art and with a craft based non-profit.

I came to Design Studies through an interest in material culture and museum studies. As an undergrad, I wrote my senior project on museum practice concerning the curation and presentation of Native American objects. This topic had grown out of the discussion of art versus artifact and Arjun Appadurai’s notion of the “social life of things”, which were recurring themes in my studies. However, over the next two years at Parsons, I hope to move outside of the museum and consider different settings. I am particularly interested in new modes of exhibition and how they interact with questions of cultural heritage and identity.

I look forward to meeting everybody and learning about your interests in design.

Juan Pemberty

I am a graphic and fashion designer from Medellin, Colombia. I work for a well-known Colombian swimwear and intimate apparel company named Agua Bendita.

Since 2010, I have been working for Agua Bendita as a Graphic Designer and Fashion Designer and currently I am also a Brand Image Director. Within the company, I have many responsibilities. My contribution to the brand has always been both research-oriented and creative. The ideas for all of the large campaigns, including collections and inspirations, are developed in the department where I work.

Today, more than ever, design has to do with research – and contemporary art should be studied exhaustively to yield its tendencies and this is one of the reasons why I have studied two different graduate certificate programs in Fashion Communication. I am interested in writing on these topics. I just finished another graduate certificate in Socio-cultural Fashion Studies, which helped deepen my knowledge on the histories of design and art. I’m very exited about this program, it’s like a dream come true. I’m looking forward to meeting everyone, looking forward to August.

Komal Sharma

Hi everyone, I’m Komal from India. I’ll be joining you this fall and I’m really looking forward to it. I belong to Jammu and Kashmir, a state up north in India. I moved to Bombay for college, studied Mass Media, and worked with a newspaper for a few years. I like to tell stories, and in the process of telling stories of others, your own story so mysteriously emerges.

The last four years, I have been living in Delhi and working with another newspaper, called Mint, writing culture-related, art and design stories. Bombay and Delhi are the two major cities of India and there’s an obvious rivalry between the people. And there’s nothing subtle about it! I, however, love both the cities. I don’t mean to sit on the fence here, but they are like different countries in themselves, with their own characters. I’d be naïve to expect anything else/less from cities, which are crossroads of a country that itself is characterized by such cultural chaos. I think the trick is to enjoy that chaos. It only becomes more beautiful! I actually love the idea of living in different cities of the world, not like a tourist but make it a home for a few years. And I’m thrilled at the prospect of spending time in New York.

I also love music, art, films, and love to read. Lately I’ve been keen on history, folklore, religion and philosophy. There’s an interesting book that I’m half way through. It’s called From the Ruins of Empire by Pankaj Mishra. It’s modern history told from a very eastern perspective. The way it goes, the victor writes history… but Mishra has written about the Indian subcontinent, about Turkey, Egypt, China, Singapore, Hongkong – how and why the Industrialized West could take over such large, wealthy countries. It’s a different, very riveting perspective.

Nguyen Tran (Moon)

Greetings! I am Nguyen Tran (Moon), a Saigon-based graphic designer. After receiving a Bachelor’s degree in Multimedia Design from RMIT University I worked on developing brand identities. I enjoyed crafting brand images from scratch and injecting personalities into them during the two years working as a design practitioner in a studio in the position of art director. They say that the real journey begins not with excitement, but with frustration, and it applied well to my case. It is the frustration with design practice that led me back towards design studies. Being involved in many real world projects, I began to question the impact of design and I believe more theoretical knowledge will help me resolve these issues. I am also eager to further explore the potential of interdisciplinary design, particularly as it relates to larger cultural issues which have a big influence on commercially oriented practices.

I must say that it was really a pleasure to find out about the MA Design Studies program at Parsons, as it absolutely suits my intentions and interests. I would like to examine design as a social science, assess the relationship between outside forces which constantly negotiate with design (i.e. politics, consumerism, globalization, sustainability, ethics, etc.); and the inner pure form of design (i.e. mechanism and functionality). My final goal is to craft an appropriate process of designing which can achieve a balance between the two.

Apart from design, I am interested in contemporary art, Japanese literature, analog photography, cosmology, Aikido, exotic cultures, non-mainstream music and cinema, words and images, books and more books.

Finally, I realize that another way to decide whether a program suits you is to know who the current students are. And after reading all of your posts, I understand that it definitely does suit me. Thank you and I’m very excited to meet you all!

Veronica Uribe

As an undergraduate Philosophy student in my hometown Peru, I oriented my career towards Political Theory and Ethics. This allowed me to establish important links with the Social Sciences and with Media Studies. More than merely exploring philosophical concepts, since my times as an undergraduate student I have attempted to understand the ways in which human beings deal with the unpredictability of their actions and interactions.

As a result of these and other experiences, I have developed a broad interest in researching the possibilities of ethical reflection about design in general. I am especially keen on exploring how design can generate democratic experiences and contribute to processes of social inclusion, and, at a more abstract level, in attempting to understand the ways in which design can interrogate its own practice so as to attain these standards.

I believe that the Master of Arts Program in Design Studies at Parsons The New School for Design would be an ideal setting for further exploring these interests. I am very excited to learn about other perspectives on design.


Veronica Uribe

Shenyangzi Wang (Yoko)

Hello everyone! My name is Shenyangzi Wang (Yoko). I live in Shenzhen, China, and for the past four years I have been studying Mass Communication at Shenzhen University, with a focus on Network and New Media. I am interested in how new media is changing everyday life. I understand that in a world where design is everywhere, one has to learn to understand what design is to ensure a better life for everyone. That is why I chose Design Studies, a program to help me learn how to be more critical about design. I feel very glad that I got accepted by Parsons the New School for Design for it is my dream school. And I am excited to meet all of you!

The movie I would like to recommend is Five Dedicated to Ozu which is directed by Abbas Kiarostami, an Iranian film director. Just as its name implies, the film is composed of five shots. There is no dialogue but long takes of five different scenes. I want to share this film with you because it has a charming style and it influences how I think about “life”. The images on the screen are the reflection of reality, and they represent the actual world. Is what we see real life? Is all life dramatic? Due to the film’s slow and calm atmosphere, it makes my mind flow. It is great to see various styles and share ideas.

Laura Wing

Hi everyone, my name is Laura. Originally from Southern California, I studied cultural anthropology and studio art with an emphasis on sculpture and performance. I have always been interested in places of intersection. It has been my experience that contrast creates space to explore the capabilities of more precise execution and communication. I found myself drawn to incorporate studio and fieldwork into my education and began using craft to enrich my love of language, physically exploring the poetics of space and design. I am fascinated by the myths we create and how they are externalized in the constructed world.

Since graduating in 2007, I have worked as an editor on a new media website at a production company; co-managed and curated an artist-run community space housing an all-ages music venue, art gallery, artist residency program, zine library, darkroom, and artists’ studios; apprenticed with an herbalist, wildcrafting and processing medicinal herbal formulas; worked as a production assistant hand-making moccasins; managed a public-house showcasing locally produced beer, wine, and food in Brooklyn; and worked as a cook at a raw vegan company. Collecting a variety of practices and perspectives has enriched and ignited my fascination with Design Studies.

I am thrilled to join this brilliant new program at a time when Design Studies is bourgeoning with opportunity to shape its capabilities in the world of design and beyond. I am exciting about content strategy, creating smarter cities, exploring new materials, and the general possibilities of new art/science affinities. It is with deep gratitude that I look forward to meeting you all in August. Cheers!

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.