David Brody, the director of Parsons’ MA in History of Decorative Arts and Design program, resists being confined to one disciplinary box. His research and teaching, which blends design with history, ethnography, globalization, and many other areas of study, reflects his interdisciplinary approach to finding meaning behind objects and design industries. “My hope is that our graduate students will look at design from these other perspectives in order to understand how design affects people's lives.”
A specialist in material culture, visual culture, and design studies, Brody has written acclaimed books on a number of topics. From Visualizing American Empire: Orientalism and Imperialism in the Philippines to the co-edited volume Design Studies: A Reader, Brody’s writings and scholarship investigate the impact design has on people and cultures.
Brody encourages students to take courses throughout the graduate programs in Parsons’ School of Art and Design History and Theory—which include the recently launched MA in Design Studies and the MA in Fashion Studies in addition to the MA in the History of Decorative Arts and Design—so that these research areas can inform one another, helping students think about design in new ways.
What attracted Brody to Parsons and The New School? He cites the university’s openness to new ideas and its unrivaled location. “At The New School, I don’t have to be wedded to a particular focus. I can create new courses and pull together students from different disciplines. Also, the location allows for programs like the MA in the History of Decorative Arts and Design, which is a partnership with Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, that gives students access to some of the most important research libraries in the country.”