Parsons School of Design
BFA Communication Design
Thesis 2021

Introduction

Caspar Lam, Director
Kelly Walters, Associate Director

The often generic aesthetic of a web heavily shrouded by giant platforms leads to new questions about how specific voices and cultures can be given form, and whether there are pure forms we can rely on to build visual systems. But looking more closely, many of the themes that thread through the work this year are perennial, such as language, technology, and identity. These reflect a deeply embedded consciousness 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 New York in 2021.

Located within a progressive university and in New York City, Parsons’ Communication Design program is the most internationally diverse, technologically inclined, socially minded, future-focused, and interdisciplinary program of its kind. Our students are not just designers: many are also photographers, artists, illustrators, programmers, social scientists, and writers, and their engagement with students and faculty outside of their chosen field is encouraged and visible in their work.

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 curiosity, tenacity, and learning. Their thesis projects are the first proof that they can.