Parsons School of Design celebrates art and design in the civic sphere.
Every spring during the Parsons Festival, our end-of-year celebration, Parsons opens its doors to New York City. At The New School— where academic rigor and creative discourse are tradition—groundbreaking art and design are our gift to the city.
The Parsons Festival is a thought-provoking mix of public programs and installations that showcase the creative and intellectual achievements of our students — a diverse cross-disciplinary community of artists, designers, architects, photographers, media makers, technologists, scholars, and strategists. The event opens with graduating student exhibitions at Parsons’ Sheila C. Johnson Design Center, at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 13th Street, and at many other Manhattan and Brooklyn venues. The more than 50 thesis shows, presentations, open studios, and programs give the public opportunities to see pioneering creative work and interact with our community.
Attendees try out students’ wearable tech and virtual reality interfaces, take in displays of hand-illustrated books and flat-pack furniture, and enter into lively discussion with young strategists pitching their socially and technically innovative ideas. They leave with a rich understanding of what anchors a Parsons education: the belief that design is a human-centered, participatory problem-solving endeavor.
This year’s festival introduces a new generation of artists and photographers at PARTICIPANT INC and Milk Studios and invites South Street Seaport visitors to Impact!, an exhibition of interdisciplinary projects—many with high-profile industry partners—that foster social change. It includes installations at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair and WantedDesign intended to acquaint people with Parsons’ unique combination of design thinking and making. Some projects presented at the festival—such as concepts developed for the MasterCard x Parsons Hackathon—merge fashion, technology, and e-commerce, disrupting the boundaries between art, media, and design. Others, like Blind Spots, explore the intersections of race, architecture, and urban space, generating critical discussions throughout New York City.
Parsons’ mission isn’t just to bring together creative disciplines—though, as the festival shows, that’s one of our core strengths. We bring together entire communities through art and design to create a more sustainable and beautiful world. The resulting dialogues drive positive change.
By taking creativity out into the community, where it’s most transformative and relevant, The New School is a force of new thinking, innovation, and rich conversation. Be a Force of New.