BFA ID Director Yu Nong Khew featured in September/October issue of i+D


BFA ID Director and Parsons SCE featured in in September/October issue of i+D

The New School has long been known as a champion of social justice and climate, according to Yu Nong Khew, director of the BFA Interior Design program and assistant professor of interior design at Parsons School of Design, The New School, and a design partner at Studio Khew Cornelius. “Both sustainability and wellness have always been at the forefront.” This generation of Parsons Students are becoming very involved in the climate crisis. Design as activism is surfacing among students and faculty as well.

The educators at Parsons recognize that design education influences industry and vice versa. Khew adds that there has been a huge shift during the last decade in terms of the technology and hardware available to students. Designers have gone from understanding how code is used to actually doing their own coding. “We are moving away from drafting by hand to using technology,” says Khew. “This shift in education reflects a shift in the industry. Nobody draws in the office by hand with a drafting table.”

She has noticed in the last two or three years that students are still drawing, but the hand-mind connection is more sketching based than drafting based. The new crop of designers is still making the hand-mind connection, but that connection doesn’t have to be technical—it’s more of an expression, more of a process, according to Khew.

“Then when we get to the drafting, it can be done by the computer. The thinking and the processing have been done by hand. And by hand, I actually mean by iPad. A lot of students use iPad with a stylus. It looks almost like a hand sketch except that it’s digitized immediately,” she says.

“I don’t see hand drawing ever going away,” Khew explains. “The pen-brain connection is very important in design education because that’s how designers think. Sometimes we think and draw and make at the same time. For our programs the hand-drawing aspect is in the process—in the sketching and ideating—not so much in the technical drafting aspect.”

In addition to creativity, skills, and passion, the next generation of designers also possesses remarkable flexibility and adaptability, according to Khew. “Because of the pandemic and the hand they were dealt during their educational career, they have learned to pick themselves up and take life on regardless of hard knocks.” This resilience will serve them—and their employers—well in the workplace.


Yu Nong Khew