Design is intensely solitary in execution but extraordinarily public in its dissemination and dialogue. Designers learn to work between these antipodal modes through a cyclical practice of making, critique, and reflection. For two years now, these activities have been reorganized by conditions brought forth by a global pestilence. The Class of 2022, and indeed all designers, have rediscovered how vital community is for the discipline to flourish.
This past year marks the beginning of a slow transition back to physical community and making. In this period of anticipation, questions about identity, memory, representation, and future are foremost in our students’ minds. But looking more closely, these questions are related to perennial questions about the qualities and concerns of the human person. Rather than being a set of projects meant solely for consumption in the “next thing,” these projects stand as an archive of thousands of conversations about what matters to these specific students in 2022 connected to each other through their decision to study at Parsons.
The thesis begins with a question, problem, or dilemma, and responds with design. Over the course of a year, students practice research, ideation, prototyping, iteration and presentation in the service of something that matters to them. A successful project does not only show a capable designer, but also someone who has the curiosity to learn independently about a subject outside of design, as well as the tenacity to learn whatever it takes to convey a message or solve a problem.
For those who continue to see making as a way to learn rather than just a means to an end, design is a lifelong framework to see the world and their place in it. Our strongest hope is that students will take with them a habit of wonder, tenacity, and learning. Their thesis projects are the first proof that they can.
Owner, Office of Luke Bulman
Associate Professor of Communication Design, Parsons School of Design
Design Director, M21D Museum of 21st Century Design
Partner, Small Stuff
Senior Designer, Via
Owner, Everything Studio
Principal, Bates Hori
Assistant Professor of Communication Design, Parsons School of Design
Senior Designer, MoMA
Partner, Small Stuff