The New School Archives Digital Collections

Parsons School of Design Centenary Oral History Project ➔ Interview with Stanley Barrows (2 of 2)


Related people/organizations

Martica Sawin (interviewer)
Stanley Barrows (interviewee)
New School (New York, N.Y.). New School Archives and Special Collections (publisher)
Parsons School of Design (producer)

Date

10 Feb 1994

Location:

Parsons Institutional Collections

Identifier:

PC070101_Barrows_19940210

MLA Citation:

Interview with Stanley Barrows (2 of 2). 10 Feb 1994. Parsons School of Design Centenary Oral History Project. New School Archives and Special Collections Digital Archive. Web. 23 Sep 2017

Description TRANSCRIPT


Recorded on February 10, 1994, this is the second of two interviews with Stanley Barrows conducted by Martica Sawin. Barrows continues his review of student work and studio pedagogy from the initial interview. Early design assignments are discussed in detail. He describes a number of key principals and practices, including dynamic symmetry, the incorporation of a range of disciplines (e.g. decorative arts, illustration), and the study of late seventeenth and eighteenth century interiors. Barrows reviews the history of Parsons School of Design based on stories handed down to him, as well as his own interactions with William M. Odom and Van Day Truex, both of whom he encountered as a student in the 1930s. Barrows relates his experiences studying at the Paris Ateliers in 1939 during the escalation of hostilities during World War Two, the eventual evacuation of students, and his return to the United States. He reminisces about his military service as a topographical engineer after being drafted in 1941. To this end, Barrows emphasizes the importance of studying abroad in Europe, and describes the structure of Parsons’ guided summer tours through England, France, and Italy. He also details the institutional antecedents and influences on Parsons, including the New York Art Students League, L’Ecole des Beaux Arts, and educators William Chase and Ogden Codman. He also notes Pierre Chareau and Bauhaus as being influential on the Paris Ateliers curriculum. Barrows discusses the shift away from this approach as well, and toward more experimental teaching methods, and the subsequent migration of staff from Parsons’ Interior Design program to the Fashion Institute of Technology in the late 1960s. There is an extended discussion of the genesis of the Parsons table, which he attributes to Jean-Michel Frank. Additionally, Barrows identifies and tells stories about memorable students and faculty, including Robert Castle, Glenn Boyles, Grace Fakes, Elsie Brown Barnes, Betty Carter, and Leo Steinberg. Barrows also discusses at length the history of the interior design firm McMillen, Inc., and the notion of Manhattan Style, as an aesthetic and as the title of a book that is dedicated to Barrows. There are numerous recording interruptions.