Global Perspectives on Design History

Global Perspectives on Design History is a course offered by Parsons Paris and taught under the knowledgable eye of Professor Stephanie Nadalo.

This class examines global perspectives on design history from the 15th century to the present, challenging traditional Western-centric and national narratives and incorporating decoloniality and transnationality within the design history discourse. Professor Nadalo and her class welcome specialists from different fields in relation to design history to help lead weekly sessions by providing and examining multicultural and transnational currents within European and Northern American design history while also probing the effect that colonialism and post-colonialism has had on design within non-Western and Diaspora cultures. The class focuses heavily on the curatorial challenges of exhibiting and mediating a globalized culture of design.

Students in the class allow themselves to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of key concepts and debates surrounding the history of globalization, colonialism, post-colonialism and the formation of Diaspora cultures. Weekly, they navigate the diverse research methodologies encompassed within global design history and the related disciplines of art history, anthropology, sociology, social history, economics, etc.  Through examining and analyzing historical and contemporary objects as generators, embodiments, and transmitters of cultural values across time and geography, students get to critically engage with debates concerning the collection and display of global material culture including recent curatorial efforts to decolonize the museum.

The course is weighted by participation, reading responses, museum and exhibition critiques and a final presentation and supporting essay. Most favorable,  the museum and exhibition critiques, allow the class to follow Professor Nadalo to several museum spaces.  The class has already visited the Musée des Arts Décoratifs where they listened to a discussion about Japanese Katagami, textile stencils, and restoring and exhibiting Japanese kimonos, an excursion to the Egyptian inspired architectural sites in Paris, as well as a visit to Palais de la Porte Doreé & National Museum of Immigration, and a visit to Quai Branly just to name a few.  On top of field trips, and as mentioned, the class welcomes several guest speakers, from other Parsons Paris professors like Gabriel Wick, to Leena Svinhufvud, a Curator at DesignMuseo Helsinki. In the comming weeks, the class will also invite curator and artist, Kathleen Ritter, Victor Claass, and researcher Giulia Mensitieri.

Overall, Global Perspectives on Design History provides our students with insights from individuals in the realm of design from curators to researchers, and allows them to question the standard perspectives on design and produce their own inferences on the material produced in readings and at museums visited across Paris.