The New School Archives Digital Collections

Parsons School of Design oral history program ➔ Audio interview with Stanley Barrows

Digital Audio

Related person/organization

Stanley Barrows (interviewee)


September 1994


Stanley Barrows is interviewed by an unidentified man and woman. The interview focuses on the evolution of the Parsons School of Design aesthetic, and by extension, an American aesthetic, and the construct and definition of “good taste.” Barrows mentions Elsie de Wolfe, Eleanor McMillen Brown, William M. Odom, Van Day Truex, and Frank Alvah Parsons. Barrows details numerous shifts within the institutional history of Parsons School of Design. He describes the founding of the Paris Ateliers by William M. Odom (at the urging of Frank Alvah Parsons), and development of a scholarship program for international students. He emphasizes the centrality of dynamic symmetry to the Parsons curriculum, and traditional studio practices, heavily based on classical European principles and oriented toward such exercises as museum visits and measuring rooms. He also details a later shift under Dean David C. Levy toward methods that Barrows describes as more experimental and “far out,” and his subsequent departure for the Fashion Institute of Technology. The recording begins when the conversation is already underway, and abruptly ends in the middle of a sentence.





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