Parsons The New School for Design (known colloquially as Parsons or Parsons School of Design) is a private art and design college located in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Lower Manhattan in New York City. It is one of the seven divisions of The New School. Parsons was the first school in the United States to offer programs in fashion design, advertising, interior design, and graphic design. Parsons offers 25 undergraduate and graduate programs in art and design, and it is widely regarded as one of the most prestigious fashion schools in the world. It is ranked as the #1 fashion school in the United States and the #2 fashion school in the world, just behind Central Saint Martins in London.
Parsons is known to have educated some of the most renowned and innovative designers, some of which include Donna Karan (founder of DKNY), Marc Jacobs, Alexander Wang, Tom Ford, Anna Sui, Jason Wu, Narciso Rodriguez, Jack McCollough & Lazaro Hernandez (founders of Proenza Schouler), Isaac Mizrahi, Derek Lam, Prabal Gurung, and Jenna Lyons (President and Creative Director of J.Crew).
Parsons is a member of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) and the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD).
First established as the Chase School, the institution was founded in 1896 by the American impressionist painter William Merritt Chase (1849â"1916). Chase led a small group of Progressives who seceded from the Art Students League of New York in search of a more free, more dramatic, and more individual expression of art. The Chase School changed its name in 1898 to the New York School of Art.
In 1904, Frank Alvah Parsons (1868â"1930) joined the artist Robert Henri (1865â"1929) as a teacher at Chase's school; in the same approximate time frame, Parsons studied for two years with the vanguard artist and educator, Arthur Wesley Dow at Columbia University Teachers College, graduating in 1905 with a degree in fine arts. A few years later, he became president of the New York School of Art. 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 vision was borne out in a series of firsts for the School, establishing the first program in Fashion Design, Interior Design, Advertising, and Graphic Design in the United States. In 1909, the school was renamed the New York School of Fine and Applied Art to reflect these offerings. Parsons became sole director in 1911, a position which he maintained to his death in 1930. William M. Odom, who established the school's Paris Ateliers in 1921, succeeded Parsons as president. In honor of Parsons, who was important in steering the school's development and in shaping visual-arts education through his theories about linking art and industry throughout the world, the institution became Parsons School of Design in 1936.
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."
In 1970, the School became a division of the New School for Social Research (now The New 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.
In 2005, when the parent institution was renamed The New School, Parsons School of Design was renamed Parsons The New School for Design.
Like most universities in New York City, Parsons' campus is spread among scattered buildings, but the main building is located at 13th Street and 5th Avenue. Many other facilities are in buildings shared by other colleges in The New School but the facilities below are exclusive to Parsons.
New York City
2 West 13th Street
2 West 13th Street is most commonly known as the Sheila Johnson Design Center. The main Parsons campus is located at 2 West 13th Street in Greenwich Village in the borough of Manhattan. The renovation of the existing structure's first and mezzanine levels was made possible in part by a $7 million gift from New School Trustee and Parsons Board of Governors Chair Sheila Johnson. The "Urban Quad" (as the school calls it) was designed by Lyn Rice Architects and encompasses a total area of 32,800 square feet (3,050Â m2). In addition to classrooms, the building includes the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Gallery and Auditorium, and the Arnold and Sheila Aronson Galleries. The renovated ground floor also provides a new home for the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Archives, a collection of drawings, photographs, letters, and objects documenting 20th-century design.
The building hosts the Adam and Sophie Gimbel Library, a resource collection supporting art, architecture and design degree programs offered by the Parsons School of Design. The collection consists of approximately 45,000 book volumes, 350 periodical titles (200 current), 70,000 slides and 45,000 picture files. Special Collections holdings number over 4,000, including many rare and valuable items.
The building's renovation won the 2009 National AIA Honor Award, the 2009 MASNYC Masterworks Award, the 2009 AIANY Merit Award, the 2008 AIA New York State Award of Excellence, the 2008 American Institute of Architects NY/Boston Society of Architects Biennial Honor Award for Educational Facility Design, the 2008 SARA/NY Design Award of Excellence, and the 2007 AIANY Merit Award for Projects.
David M. Schwartz Fashion Education Center
In the heart of New York City's Garment District, the David M Schwartz Fashion Education Center (560 7th Avenue) is located in the former Brotherhood in Action Building, designed by William Lescaze in 1963. Most fashion studio coursework is taught at that location. There is also a Fashion Computing lab complete with the latest industry standard technology.
25 East 13th Street
The 25 East 13th Street building is home to the School of Constructed Environments, which is the home of the Interior Design, Lighting Design, and Architecture departments of the college. The Fine Arts department is also located in this building. The facilities included in the building are the digital and traditional fabrication shops, the ceramics studio, the Light Lab, multiple Computing Labs, the Angelo Donghia Materials Center, and The Design Workshop.
Director of the New York School of Fine and Applied Art, Frank Alvah Parsons, first began a program in Paris in 1921. In 1941, it was named for him. In 1970, the school merged with the New School for Social Research. Subsequently the name Parsons was licensed to the Paris College of Art but this arrangement ceased in 2010. In November 2012, The New School President David E. Van Zandt announced that Parsons The New School for Design would be opening a new academic center, to be called Parsons Paris, in Paris in the autumn 2013. Located in in Parisâs First Arrondissement, Parsons Paris will incorporate a faculty of French and European design educators as well as visiting professors from around the world. The school will offer a variety of bachelorâs and masterâs degrees in design, fashion, and business. All classes will be taught in English.
Parsons Paris is part of a global initiative by Parsons that highlights creative literacy in all aspects of society. Parsons is developing similar schools in Mumbai, Shanghai, and other major urban centers.
Parsons offers twenty-five different programs each housed in one of five divisions:
- School of Art and Design History and Theory
- School of Art, Media, and Technology
- School of Constructed Environments
- School of Design Strategies: Cities, Services, Ecosystems
- School of Fashion
Admission and student demographics
Admission to Parsons is extremely selective with only about 3,800 undergraduate students and 400 graduate students. The student body is 77% Women and 23% Men, with most of the constituents being full-time students. About one third of the college is made up of international students hailing from 68 different countries. The largest international groups come from Asia, followed by Europe.
There are 127 full-time faculty members and 1,056 part-time faculty members, many of whom are successful working artists and designers in New York City. The student:faculty ratio is 9:1.
In 1920, Parsons School of Design was the first art and design school in America to found a campus abroad. Today the school offers its students the possibility to study abroad at various art and design schools around the world. Parsons has a partnership with the renowned Central Saint Martins school, the top fashion school in the world. The school also has affiliations with schools that operate independently but embrace Parsons' philosophy and teaching methodology, including:
- Parsons Paris, France
- La Escuela de DiseÃ±o at Altos de ChavÃ³n, La Romana, Dominican Republic
- Kanazawa International Design Institute, Kanazawa, Japan
Parsons also has a partnership with Columbia University, allowing Parsons graduate students to team up and collaborate with Columbia Business School graduate students for projects in certain classes.
The Student Development and Activities is home to over 25 recognized student organizations throughout The New School that serves Parsons as well as all the other eight schools under the umbrella of The New School.
re:D is the magazine for Parsons alumni and the wider Parsons community, published by the New School Alumni Association.
Scapes is the annual journal of the School of Constructed Environments. Edited by Joanna Merwood and student interns, the journal focuses on global, metropolitan, and departmental perspectives on architecture. The theme of the 2008 issue is architectural drawing and the representation of natural systems.
The Journal of Design Strategies explores and documents collaborative work on the borders of management and design. The journal welcomes contributions that address the importance of design and design-based education to business strategy and planning and that speak to the need for sustainable approaches to new value creation. In each issue, they highlight people, projects, approaches, and events that together characterize an important aspect of the collaboration between design and business.
The Parsons Journal for Information Mapping (PJIM) is published quarterly by the Parsons Institute for Information Mapping and focuses on both the theoretical and practical aspects of information visualization. With every issue, the Journal aims to present novel ideas and approaches that advance the field of Knowledge Visualization through visual, engineering, and cognitive methods.
BIAS: Journal of Dress Practice published by the MA Fashion Studies Dress Practice Collective started in the spring of 2013 and aims to join elements of "visual culture, fashion theory, design studies and personal practice through a variety of media."
WNSR is a student-run, faculty-advised online-only university radio station based at The New School. Programming is delivered in the form of streamable mp3s and, in the near future, subscribable podcasts. It is a station for all divisions of The New School.
Fusion Fashion Show
Fusion, an established event since 2000, brings together Fashion Institute of Technology and Parsons The New School for Design, to engage in a school vs school fashion show competition. All contestants are either freshman or sophomore students and the models are student volunteers. The judges pick a "best designer" from each school and a "best overall school". The best designers each receive a cash scholarship.
Parsons Fashion Benefit
Parsonsâ annual Benefit and Fashion Show is a black tie gala that raises funds for scholarships and academic programs at the school. A highlight of the event is a runway show featuring the top thesis collections of Parsonsâ graduating BFA Fashion Design students, including its Designers of the Year. The Designer of the Year Award has launched the careers of such famous alumni as Marc Jacobs, and Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough of Proenza Schouler. The show has been a tradition of the school for more than sixty years.
The event also honors today's influential fashion designers and their positive impact on the fashion world. Tom Murry, President & CEO of Calvin Klein, Inc and Francisco Costa, the label's Creative Director for Womenswear were honored by Parsons for their visionary work and contribution to the field of fashion design.
Notable alumni and attendees
- Education in New York City
- The New York Foundation
- The New York Intellectuals
- Parsons table
- Project Pericles
- Media related to Parsons The New School for Design at Wikimedia Commons
- Parsons The New School for Design â" official site
- The New School Archives Digital Collections