Parsons The New School for Design is among the design and architecture schools fueling New York City's creative economy, according to a new report released by the think tank The Center for an Urban Future. Through interviews and survey responses from over 300 academics, design professionals and entrepreneurs, the report concluded that design and architecture schools are a major talent pipeline for the city's creative sector, which is growing more rapidly than traditional sectors like construction and finance.
“New York design universities have been critical catalysts for innovation, entrepreneurship and economic growth,” reads the report, titled Designing New York's Future and available in full at www.nycfuture.org. “Their graduates have produced dozens of start-up companies that set up locally—something that has eluded most of the city's scientific research institutions.”
According to the report, nearly one in five graduates of Parsons, Pratt Institute and the School of Visual Arts launch new businesses. At Parsons, in addition to alumni like Marc Jacobs, Tom Ford and Donna Karan who have established personal brand empires, there are a number of graduates and former students who have established thriving companies. Among these are fashion labels Proenza Schouler, Alexander Wang, Jason Wu and Derek Lam; SoHo-based design firm BUILT (Parsons BFA Product Design alumnus Aaron Lown); online design retailer Fab.com (Parsons AAS Fashion Design alumnus Bradford Shellhammer); game design studio Large Animal Games (Parsons MFA Design and Technology alumnus Wade Tinney); and design studio Hyperakt (Parsons BFA Illustration alumni Deroy Peraza and Julia Vakser Zeltser).
The relationship between design schools and the city is a true give and take, notes Parsons Executive Dean Joel Towers. “Parsons is very much a part of the creative economy here in New York,” he said. “New York City is a laboratory for our students, who participate in collaborative projects—ranging from city agencies and non-profits to some of the world's leading companies. Beyond the classroom, our alumni and faculty make valuable contributions to the art and design industries in the city.”
Roughly 88% of Parsons graduates remain in the New York City area after graduation, and those who do not start their own businesses generally join the ranks of top local firms or businesses. According to the survey conducted by the Center for an Urban Future, 81 percent of the principals and executives of local architecture and design firms said they had hired at least one New York City design school graduate in the last five years. The schools are also job creators. Forty-three percent of respondents indicated they had taught at a local design school, a finding mirrored in the Parsons faculty, which includes many practicing designers.
The creative funding platform Kickstarter also was recognized for its role in launching new design talent. Parsons recently launched a Kickstarter page to further promote alumni, faculty and student projects. Cosmonaut, an iPad stylus designed by Parsons MFA Design and Technology alumnus Dan Provost, raised over $100,000 through this funding platform.
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