Posts Tagged ‘class of 2017’

Lisa Merk of Design Studies reflects on her award-winning project REMIND ME & more

Lisa Merk portrait

Lisa Merk, MA Design Studies ‘17, was recently the recipient of the New Talent Award from A&W Magazine, a German architecture and lifestyle magazine, for her project REMIND ME. REMIND ME is a sideboard and storage area with a motion-sensor light bulb that glows whenever a user gets close to it, ensuring that he or she will never leave the house without their necessary belongings. As a product designer, Lisa’s work focuses on furniture, packaging, and tabletop design as a way to promote a “high quality of living.”


Student Profiles



Daisy Lei, Class of 2017

My name is Lei Qionglu (“Daisy” for friends). I was born in Changsha, a city located in Southern China famous for its spicy cuisine. I attended university in Shanghai and gained a Bachelor’s degree on Fashion Design and Engineering. After graduation, I worked as a PR manager for both women luxury and commercial brands. At a certain point, my job started to involve more complicated tasks and thus required more sophisticated project management skills. Therefore, three years after I joined the workforce, I acquired a PMP certificate to improve my professional efficiency. During the past two years, I worked on creative projects with designers with various expertise and backgrounds and also dealt with clients ranging from national financial organizations to independent local companies. I decided to pursue graduate studies because my working experiences made me realize that a much deeper understanding of design, not only as craftsmanship but also as a cultural and social phenomenon, would provide many more opportunities for my future career.

So here I am. I have chosen Parsons because of its stellar reputation in the design industry, of its attractive location in the heart of New York City and, more importantly, of the brilliant cohort whom I will be working with and learning from. My personal interests lie primarily in the fusion of local cultural elements with the global aesthetics in the fashion industry and also in interior design. I plan to focus on the Asian market, with the hope of applying my research to practical cases in my home country.

Stephen Dahmer

Stephen Dahmer, Class of 2017

Identifying primarily as a songwriting, I have been fortunate to spend much of thelast eight years involved with projects that have broadened my understanding of the use of different media to create spaces for cultural critique and engagement. These endeavors include: the use of various art forms to raise awareness of and initiate focused engagement with environmental issues; music as a catalyst for the formation of meaningful social spaces that foster fraternal bonds, most prominently in the use of a household for a concert or community sing-a-long; and the use of site-specific theater to creatively promote a yearning for dialogue and civic engagement within a community. Each of these experiences has given me greater insight into the power of art to create spaces where folks can come together to dream and imagine new forms of community engagement and cultural identity.

My educational experience thus far includes: a liberal arts degree with emphases in philosophy/religion, sociology, and social work; a semester spent in the Middle East studying politics, religion, and culture; classes at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in figure drawing, painting, and portraiture; workshops with Philadelphia Theater of the Oppressed; and an apprenticeship with Fennec Design Studio in Harrisburg, PA. I have spent time working as an assistant pre-school teacher in West Philly, in restaurants and coffee shops, and on a small organic farm in Central Oregon. I am currently working on a short film, reading, recording new music, and dreaming about spending the next two years studying in New York. See you all soon!


Apoorva Gairola, Class of 2017

My name is Apoorva Gairola. I currently live in New Delhi, India and have been working here as a stylist and writer for a while. I graduated in journalism and mass communication but working for fashion magazines and in advertising, most of my work is in visual media. I am a fan of still and moving images, I love fashion and arts and everything old school captivates me.

I love stories. I did write a few short ones as a kid and the process of stories coming alive is truly intriguing. It starts with a thought, is then penned down in words and then the words take form and we have a visual. The better the design process, the better the end product. I have immense faith in the impact of visual communication on the society. Creative direction/ visual storytelling is what I aim to venture into but the the more I read about design thinking, the more excited I get about the new avenues that Parsons will open up for me.

I am living a dream here… studying at Parsons, living in New York! I am excited and look forward to meeting everyone.




Lisa Merk, Class of 2017

I was born in northern Germany. After I graduated from school, I went to the Dominican Republic for a year. 2005 I started an apprenticeship as an Event Manager in Hamburg and started to work as a project manager in planning and implementation of various event types. Soon I was promoted to the Unitleader for major events. After 3.5 years of working, I decided to apply for a program in Design. Since 2011 I study Design at the University of Applied Sciences Muenster. My main focus lies within product design. In 2013 I studied in Lisbon/Portugal for eight month.

Alongside my studies I work as a tutor in the in the International Office and for one of the most famous German publishing companies for children’s books, games, and toys.

During my studies I took part in competitions, which I was able to pass successfully. My latest successful competition was the IKEA Design Award. Besides my studies I like to travel to places where I can go surfing. These journeys often create part of the base of my designs.

This July I will end my Bachelor Studies in Product Design. I love this field but I believe, that we can create even better designs if we understand the background. That’s why I choose the Design Studies MA.

Fattori Fraser, Class of 2017

Originally from Manchester, the cradle of the Industrial Revolution and the inspiration for Marx and Engels, I am attuned to seeing the way that modes of production affect people, and how Design plays a seminal role in these relationships.

Fresh out of my Bachelors degree in the History of Art at Oxford University, I am ready and rearing to transition from the study of art to the world of design. I am interested in psychological spaces, both the interior and exterior, and how they relate to wider socioeconomics. I am also interested in how this relates to issues of gender and class.

In the past my research has focused on the indigenous designs of the Balearics and their influ- ence on both Catalan and global Modernism. My paper on this subject is set to become my first published work.

I am also interested in Scandinavian design, for its unity of aesthetic and social progressivist prin- ciples. In the future, I endeavour for my work to highlight the social potential of design in the 21st century, building on such principles.

Most importantly, my Masters at Parsons will provide me with a spring-board by which to enact real social change. I hope my work will one day have an impact on the public sphere. Finally, I am very excited about future collaborative opportunities with other students.



Shea Mandolesi, Class of 2017

Originally from Toronto, Ontario, I’ve been living in Halifax, Nova Scotia for the past four years. Just this past spring, I’ve graduated from Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University. I received a Bachelor of Design with a focus in Interdisciplinary Design. My skills lie within graphic, product, and system design. NSCAD University has given me a great understanding of design thinking, and how proper execution shapes everything around us. When deep thought and high value are introduced in work, the world takes notice.

My intention of continuing studies at Parsons is to explore the possibilities of challenging our attitude towards animals, with design methodology. Heavily involved in animal rights activism and research for some time, I’ve only grown more of a desire to dedicate my practice to benefit all kind. Through my own personal experience of being a grass-roots activist, I’ve taken notice of trends in negativity not only towards the vegetarian community, but animals as well. The connections between animals, the environment, and us are undeniable; a regular theme I bring in to my work. I don’t believe design can only be limited to humans and society. Now is the time to really consider our relationship with all nature in our design. This way, the hopes of restoring balance, and creating a better future is reachable.

Traveling is very important to me. The entirety of all populations carries an infinite amount of knowledge and opportunity to learn. The most valuable trips are those in which I find compassion. I’ve had great volunteer- ing experiences in Cambodia and Tanzania. In Cambodia, I worked at an orphanage building infrastructure, working in rice fields, teaching english classes and of course playing with the children. In Tanzania, I worked at a school, building classrooms, farm in villages and enjoying time with students. Two very different countries, where I learned an incredible amount about each of their histories, and the warmness of the locals. A part from my volunteering overseas, my leisurly travels have always opened my eyes to history, art, and the kindness of strangers.

I look forward to arrive in New York this fall, my favourite city in the world. I’m equally excited to connect with my peers. Sharing ideas and collaboration really leads to incredible things.

Leticia Bio Picture-min

Leticia Cartier Oxley, Class of 2017

My name is Leticia Cartier Oxley and I am a city walker, architectural photographer, and creative thinker. I approach big ideas using my philosophic training and background to create images and essays that show how human experience is expressed and experienced through the creation and interaction with our environment. I focus on minuscule details, such as color and texture, to show the character of the place.

My education has been a long lineage of city-walkers, from Socrates to Virginia Woolf, who have shown me how the city holds the quicksilver of human consciousness and the many virtues that city life gives to the individual. I believe our participation in city life reflects the happiness and wisdom of our soul.  My Jesuit education has helped me understand various world views and broadened my perspective to consider what is good and how I may be a service to others, which is what brings me to study design. I find that the philosophic nature of design is often overlooked. My goal is to delve into this design community to expand and clarify my own understanding of design, our need for it, how it can give people agency, and bring some of that back to my community.

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.