Parsons focuses on creating
engaged citizens and outstanding artists, designers,
scholars and business leaders through a design-based
professional and liberal education.
students learn to rise to the challenges of living, working
and creative decision making in a world where human
experience is increasingly designed. The school embraces
curricular innovation, pioneering uses of technology,
collaborative methods and global perspectives on the future
History of Parsons
Parsons has been a
forerunner in the field of art and design since its founding
in 1896. Back then, it was called the Chase School, named
after American impressionist painter William Merritt Chase,
who led a small group of Progressives who seceded from the
Art Students League of New York in search of freer, more
dramatic and individual expression.
In 1904, Frank Alvah
Parsons joined Chase; six years later, he became the
School's president. Anticipating a new wave of the
Industrial Revolution, Parsons predicted that art and design
would soon be inexorably linked to the engines of industry.
His prophetic vision was borne out in a series of firsts for
- The first program in Fashion
- The first program in Interior
- The fist program in Advertising
and Graphic Design
Each program has
profoundly impacted American life. In 1939, nine years after
Frank Alvah Parsons' death, the School officially adopted
By locating visual
beauty in the ordinary things of middle-class American life,
Parsons virtually invented the modern concept of design in
America. From the beginning, the faculty cared about the
spaces people lived in, the garments they wore, the
advertising they read, the furniture and tableware they
used. The principles they taught had the effect of
democratizing taste and making it available to America on a
broad scale. As the modern curriculum developed, many
successful designers remained closely tied to the School,
and by the mid-1960s, Parsons had become "the training
ground for Seventh Avenue."
The social and
political upheaval of the late-1960s would challenge the
foundations of several of the School's departments,
especially Interior Design. Whereas the curriculum formerly
had emphasized middle- and upper-class homes, the program
redirected students to work on more urban and socially
conscious projects, such as prisons, hospitals, and housing
for the underprivileged. In keeping with this new
orientation, the graduating class of 1965 mounted "A Place
to Live," an exhibition that analyzed substandard urban
housing and proposed alternatives. Today, every Parsons
department shares a commitment to design as both a social
responsibility and an intellectual practice.
In 1970, the School
became a division of the New School for Social Research (now
School). The campus moved from Sutton Place to Greenwich
Village in 1972. The merger with a vigorous, fully
accredited university was a source of new funding and
energy, which expanded the focus of a Parsons education.
always been an essential ingredient of Parsons' success. In
1920, Parsons was the first art and design school in America
to found a campus abroad. Parsons also has four affiliate
schools in France, South Korea, the Dominican Republic, and
Japan, which operate independently but embrace Parsons'
philosophy and teaching methodology. Students can also
participate in exchange programs with other art and design
schools. Today, 30 percent of Parsons' students are
international - a testament to its global reputation for
design education excellence. Since the School's earliest
years, the overwhelming majority of its teachers have been
professional designers who teach part-time, which gives
students the unique advantage of being taught by New York's
successful working artists and designers.
Faculty members and
visiting critics — like installation artist Brian Tolle,
architect David Lewis, and communication designer William
Bevington; are principals in their own design firms, hold
key positions in the art and design community and frequently
have their work published. Parsons' strong ties to industry
bring numerous guest lectures and critics into forums and
classrooms. Visiting critics include: Richard Meier, Donna
Karan, Mayer Rus, Arthur Corwin, and Paula Scher.
In recent years, the
School has strongly promoted technological skills
development. By mastering computer graphics,
computer-assisted design, interactive multimedia, digital
imaging, and a host of other technological tools, Parsons'
graduates are on the leading edge of an ever-evolving design
programs and distinguished faculty embrace curricular
innovation, pioneer new uses of technology, and instill in
students a global perspective in design. The result is an
educational experience that is authentic and contemporary.
The young designers who graduate from Parsons School of
Design are unquestionably the real thing.
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