The Collaborative Faculty Leading the Sustainable Design Certificate Program at Pratt SCPS

Courtesy of Daniel Terna

At Pratt’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies (SCPS), sustainability isn’t just a passing thought or popular trend, it’s one of the cornerstones of our art and design educational curriculum. The Sustainable Design Certificate program led by Joelle Danant, with Tetsu Ohara’s guidance as Academic Consultant, provides the opportunity for students to learn the necessary skills and techniques to apply sustainable design practices and methods into their careers and professional work. This program features an exceptional team of faculty which includes Tetsu Ohara, Kat Choate, Daniel Penge and Danielle Trofe. This dream team of educators possesses expert knowledge and experience in the fields of sustainable design, biomimicry and biodesign.

As a faculty cohort within the Sustainable Design Certificate Program at Pratt SCPS, they collaborate, co-teach and support all facets of the certificate program to ensure that students receive a first class educational experience in sustainable design. This month we are spotlighting this incredible team of accomplished designers and educators. Keep reading to learn more about each of these faculty members including their career achievements, pedagogical approaches, and what motivated them to become sustainable design educators at Pratt Institute.

Tetsu Ohara is an accomplished Designer and Adjunct Associate Professor in the Interior Design Department’s Graduate Program at Pratt Institute. As a FIPSE grant recipient, he serves as coordinator for the Pratt Sustainability Coalition (for the Annual Green Week Event Series). Tetsu began his Pratt journey in 2007. For well over a decade Tetsu has been teaching Pratt students about the inspiring world of biomimicry and sustainable design. As one of the leading educators at Pratt, Tetsu has had an immense impact across campus in supporting the education of future experts and leaders in these fields. This past summer, Tetsu served as the faculty adviser and mentor for a team of Pratt undergraduate and graduate students who participated in the 2019 Biomimicry Global Design Challenge, an annual competition organized by the Biomimicry Institute, and the team won third place. To read more about the exceptional achievements made by these Pratt students check out this wonderful feature from Pratt News: Adaptations in Nature Inspire Students in Award-Winning Design to Reduce Food Waste.

Tetsu Ohara’s relationship with sustainable design began many years ago. As a child, Tetsu was most drawn to feature films produced by Studio Ghibli, the iconic Japanese animation film studio known worldwide for its animation feature films. He recalls having been particularly captivated by the important portrayals of “the symbiotic relationship between humans and nature” in films such as Nausicaa (1984). As an adult, Tetsu was able to travel the world which fueled his appreciation for its beauty.  This discovery would inspire him to pursue a career path in sustainable design. Currently, Tetsu teaches Biomimicry in both the Graduate Interior Design Program (Pratt Interior Design Department) and the Sustainable Design Certificate program (SCPS) among other related courses at Pratt Institute.

Courtesy of Fiona Szende

Kat Choate began their journey at Pratt Institute as a student in the Bachelor of Architecture program, minoring in Sustainability Studies. As a student, Kat had the opportunity to learn from Professor Tetsu Ohara, in his Biomimicry course.  Kat’s first teaching experience would be at Pratt two years ago, where they co-taught a course in the undergraduate architecture program. Soon after Kat received the opportunity to join the faculty within the Sustainable Design Certificate program at Pratt SCPS, where they co-teach with Daniel Penge.

As an educator, Kat Choate wants their students to see the challenges and obstacles the planet faces as opportunities to develop “creative design solutions”. The only way to guarantee a sustainable world for future generations is for the current generation of artists, designers and creative minds to “design it”. Kat believes that sustainable design is simply good design. A large part of their inspiration is influenced by how the field of design can and will impact the future. They are interested in “investigating the increasingly ambiguous boundaries between the built and natural environment.” Kat and their partner recently received an honorable mention for their entry into the 2019 Blank Space Project’s Outer Space competition.  There are many exciting things on the horizon for them.  This upcoming Spring semester Kat Choate and Daniel Penge will be teaching the Sustainable Design Foundation course, the Sustainable Design Theory & Practice course, and the Sustainable Materials and Processes course within the Certificate Program.

Courtesy of Daniel Terna

Daniel Penge is an alumnus of the Industrial Design program at Pratt Institute. He credits his portfolio of work and the network he has built as being directly influenced and shaped by his experiences as a student at Pratt stating, “knowing that I am continuing and expanding upon the work of my academic mentors keeps me galvanized in my efforts, enthusiastic, and informed.” He was excited to receive the opportunity to become a faculty member within the Sustainable Design Certificate program at Pratt SCPS. As a designer, Daniel believes his greatest professional achievement thus far has been collaborating with his peers to “pursue circularity endeavors.” These collaborative opportunities include getting to work with leaders in design at companies like Nike and IDEO.

As a faculty member in the Sustainable Design Certificate program, the message he hopes to impart to his students is “to leave our classroom with a new ability to see the world.” Daniel hopes that when his students become leaders in their respective fields that they frequently ask themselves “questions that break preconception, such as, “Sustainable for whom?” as well as understanding how design intersects and is interconnected with  all other industries and almost every facet of life.  Daniel’s deep interest and dedication to collaboration and teamwork is highlighted in his teaching collaboration with Professor Kat Choate.

Courtesy of Fiona Szende

Danielle Trofe is a Designer and certified Biomimicry Specialist, who holds a Master’s Degree in Biomimicry and specializes in biodesign and biomimicry. Danielle studied marketing and entrepreneurship as an undergraduate student and later returned to school to complete her master’s degree in biomimicry. She began her journey at Pratt Institute three years ago when she taught a biodesign studio course in the Industrial Design program. When reflecting on this experience Danielle recalls how intrigued and inspired she was, “to learn how to best communicate methodology as a designer moving into a teacher role. Working with students has been both inspiring and informative and continues to harvest growth and discovery in a realm that entertains many interdisciplinary possibilities.”

As a biodesign expert and educator, Danielle Trofe credits nature as the biggest influencer and motivator in both her personal and professional life. Her pursuit to study and learn about the natural world guided her towards biomimicry, biodesign and teaching. One of Danielle’s greatest professional achievements is being one of the first designers to work with “living mycelium–biofabricating a product line for commercial and retail markets may be one of my crowning achievements to date.” Currently Danielle teaches Biodesign Lab in the Sustainable Design Certificate Program at Pratt SCPS. As an educator, her intention is to break down the barriers preventing designers from being able to seamlessly foray into sciences. Her philosophy is that “you don’t have to be a scientist to do science.” This motto is infused in Danielle’s approach to teaching and she hopes to continue to share her expertise in biodesign to both educate and inspire her students at SCPS to pursue biodesign.

To learn more about the Sustainable Design Certificate program at Pratt SCPS (Brooklyn Campus) and to register for upcoming courses visit our website.

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Around the City this Fall and Winter

Jewelry For America Exhibition, Courtesy of The MET

We are just one week away from Thanksgiving which means it’s  officially the holiday season in New York City.  This time of year is arguable one of the best times to explore the city and visit many of the incredible art, design and architecture events and exhibitions taking place throughout the city.

At Pratt’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies,  we believe it’s important for students to make the most of their down time while studying at Pratt and explore all of the wonderful things this city has to offer. Here’s a roundup of what we consider to be the ten must-see exhibitions and events taking place this fall and winter around the city.

1. Jewelry For America

The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Through April 5, 2020

November 18th through the 24th is NYC Jewelry week and what better way to celebrate then by visiting the Jewelry For America  exhibition at the The Metropolitan Museum of Art. This exhibition features a collection of one hundred American jewelry pieces, objects, paintings and artifacts from the last three hundred years. Highlighting the progression and evolution of jewelry styles, techniques and materials since the 18th century.  Make sure to catch this incredible exhibition this holiday season before it closes in early 2020.

2. Jason Moran

Whitney Museum of American Art: Through January 5, 2020

Take a journey through the world of jazz and visual arts with Jason Moran in his self titled exhibition currently on display at the Whitney Museum. This exhibition features a fascinating display of work that covers sculptures, drawings, collaborations and performances. It also highlights Moran’s approach to art creation and how he infuses various elements of visual and performing arts to create dynamic works of art. There’s still time to visit this enchanting exhibition at the Whitney Museum before it closes in January, 2020.

Raquel Welch, circa 1967. Courtesy of The Brooklyn Museum

3. Pierre Cardin: Future Fashion

Brooklyn Museum:  Through January 5, 2020

Imagine taking a journey back to the late 1960’s, 70’s and early 80’s, when the bold and futuristic fashions that defined Pierre’s Cardin’s seminal era took shape. Explore the history of this fashion innovator’s illustrious career in the fashion world from his time at Dior to the present. The Pierre Cardin: Future Fashion at the Brooklyn Museum allows visitors the chance to reflect on the immense impact Cardin had on the field of contemporary fashion design.  The exhibition is truly like being brought back into some of the most pivotal moments in fashion history. Displaying over 170 objects drawn from the archives. This exhibition will be on display at the Brooklyn Museum through January, 2020.

4. Vera Paints a Scarf

Museum of Arts and Design: Through January 26, 2020

The Vera Paints a Scarf exhibition at the MAD Museum is an inspiring collection of work produced by acclaimed visual artist and designer Vera Neumann. This exhibition includes an assortment of paintings by Vera Neumann and hundreds of objects from both her fashion and home and lifestyle collections. The Vera Paints a Scarf exhibition will be a visual feast for your eyes that showcases the immense legacy Neumann had on American design and art. Make sure to add this exhibition to your winter break  to do list  before it closes in late January 2020.

5.  Haegue Yang: Handles

Museum of Modern Art: Through April 12, 2020

Currently on exhibition at the MOMA is this innovative collection of sculptures by multimedia artist, Haegue Yang. Handles, features a multimedia installation of six sculptures surrounded by steel bars mounted on the walls of the exhibition space. The exhibition also includes light displays and sound arrangements to enhance and complement the experience of the exhibition. Handles provides an exploration of the ways common objects like handles have a consistent place in our everyday lives. This incredible multimedia exhibition will be on view through spring 2020.

Carmen Argote, As Above, So Below, Courtesy of New Museum

6. Carmen Argote: As Above, So Below

New Museum : Through January 5, 2020

Mexican American artist Carmen Argote presents an inspiring collection of work in her latest exhibition at the New Museum. As Above, So Below features a collection of recent paintings and a sculptural installation created while Argote was completing  residencies in Guadalajara. The pieces in this exhibition collection feature fragments of the natural environment as well as surrounding architecture. It’s an captivating exhibition that is worth experiencing first hand. Make sure to check out these pieces in person at the New Museum this winter.

7. The World of Anna Sui

Museum of Arts and Design: Through February 23, 2020

The World of Anna Sui is an exciting presentation of one hundred completed looks from the acclaimed American designer Anna Sui. This exhibition follows her progression from her early collections to the present and the journey her label has taken over these last few decades. In addition to this, the exhibition highlights Anna Sui’s impact on American fashion as well as her influence on the garment and textile industry.  The World of Anna Sui exhibition is a must see for visual artists, fashion designers and those with an appreciation for textiles and patterns. Catch this fascinating exhibition before it closes in February  2020.

The Seated II (2019), Wangechi Mutu, Courtesy of The MET

8. Wangechi Mutu – The NewOnes, will free Us

The MET Fifth Avenue: Through January 12, 2020

Acclaimed Kenyan-American artist Wangechi Mutu presents this remarkable exhibition of sculptural work created specifically for The Met. This exhibition features four sculptures, which are representational of her critical approach to creating art work with pointed focus on gender and racial politics. As noted by The Met, The NewOnes, will free Us, encapsulates one of this acclaimed artist’s most significant collections of work. Check out these incredible sculptures in person at The Met this winter.

9. Betye Saar: The Legends of Black Girl’s Window

Museum of Modern Art: Through January 4, 2020

This fall the MOMA presents an exhibition featuring the works of acclaimed African American artist Betye Saar.  The Legends of Black Girl’s Window features a collection of over 40 rare print works of art from Saar. This exhibition examines Saar’s early foray into the world of printmaking, exploring themes related to family, history, and mysticism. Take advantage of this once in a lifetime opportunity to experience this rare collection of Beyte Saar’s earliest printmaking artwork before the exhibition closes in January.

10.  Shahidul Alam: Truth to Power

Rubin Museum of Art: November 8, 2019 – May 4, 2020

Truth to Power is the an insightful exhibition featuring the work of prominent Bangladeshi photographer and activist, Shahidul Alam. The exhibition features a collection of over 40 photographs showcasing Alam’s remarkable career as a photographer. The images included in this exhibition feature Shahidul Alam’s experiences and journey’s throughout South Asia, highlighting both daily life, turbulence and activism. Truth to Power is a  must see exhibition for photographers, visual artists and those passionate about resistance and activism. Make sure to visit the Rubin Museum this holiday season to view this phenomenal exhibition.

In addition to these amazing events taking place across this city, check out the upcoming events taking place across Pratt Institute this fall and winter:  Events Calendar.