College is definitely a place where experimenting is fundamental and here at Parsons this is certainly welcomed! This semester in my core studio IDC Networks: The Gift this class focuses on using natural and sustainable materials and forces us as students and designers to really move out of our comfort zone and explore a lot of different materials and methods we may not even be familiar with. We’re only half way through this semester and it has certainly been a busy one! In this class we have already learned how to make paper, crochet, knit, felt, natural dye and we have also visited a tannery on a field trip in upstate New York!
My professor for The Gift, Laura Sansone, in addition to being an educator is a designer herself and looks at design in a very holistic way. I had the pleasure of chatting with Laura about her teaching experience here at Parsons, her Mobile Textile Lab and the importance of sustainability!
Name: Laura Sansone
Classes you teach: IDC Collaborative: Natural Dyeing, IDC Networks: The Gift, Laboratory 1 & 2, 3D Studio 1 & 2, Product Design.
How long you have taught: 13 years
What you do when you’re not at Parsons: I make things in my studio, and I research… which includes reading, writing, gardening and making natural dyes.
Thing you cannot live without: Very dark chocolate.
Favorite artist or designer right now: Right now, I think my interests are very aligned with the design work of Christien Meindertsma, a young Dutch product designer who, through her research and design work, addresses issues about the provenance of materials and transparency in production. I have many, many other favorites as well though!
Lauren Davis: Hi Laura! What do you enjoy most about teaching at Parsons?
Laura Sansone: I like it when students get excited about things and apply what excites them to their design work.
LD: What is your own teaching philosophy?
LS: In addition to other methods of research, I like students to learn through material engagement and by making. I also think every student should design with the intent to be socially, and environmentally sustainable.
LD: What class do you wish you could take at Parsons?
LD: Tell me more about the mobile Textile Lab! I see it around school and use materials from it occasionally, but what was the intent behind its creation?
LS: The Textile Lab is a mobile kitchen and workstation that I originally created with grant proceeds, to facilitate the curriculum in the Natural Dyeing Class that I teach during the fall semester at Parsons. Textile Lab, involves the collection, development and use of local plants as natural textile dyes, used in combination with regional wool. Our dye material and fiber is harvested from the local farm stands at the GrowNYC Greenmarkets. The research that is done with Textile Lab is meant to highlight the interconnectedness of products and systems, and suggest alternative methods of production that are community based.
LD: Why do you feel sustainability is important for students and designers?
LS: It’s our social responsibility as designers to practice sustainability and address not only issues about the environment, but also socio-economic problems. Unfortunately, there is a lot of inequity and damage that has been wrought on our world as a result of our economic system. I think that young designers have the opportunity to re-think the way material culture works, and consider new ways of organizing businesses and methods of producing that are more equitable and ethical.
LD: Is there any advice you would like to share for prospective or current design students?
LS: Students should focus on what feels natural to them and what interests them the most. If you truly love what you do, you will always be able to move forward.
Thanks to Laura for chatting with us! And click here to see some of Laura’s work and to learn more about what she does!