“In 1986 I was named chief editor of Metropolis, a magazine that held out a great deal of fascination for me because of its broad, multidisciplinary nature. I felt then, as I feel today, that our world is richer when designers work together, when they understand each other.
I am not a trained designer, though I took courses in textile design, drafting, and painting. Because of this, I have always considered myself an outsider to design—which I consider a good thing for a journalist seeking to understand her subject.
I have written several books on design, many articles, organized many conferences and panel discussions; when Parsons asked me to teach a course on Design History, I jumped at the chance. This was an opportunity to bring together my two loves, history (I hold an M.A. in Modern European History from Rutgers) and design. Then, when I was asked to develop a senior seminar on Design Ethics, I was truly challenged. How do you teach ethics? I decided that history could help me; understanding the professional activities of key design figures might be instructive for young designers looking to find their own way.
I was jolted into another phase of my work by 9/11. Shortly after the tragedy, I met with architect Beverly Willis and we formed a civic group, which we subsequently called R.Dot (Rebuild Downtown Our Town), for the purpose of providing solid research and information for those charged with the difficult task of rebuilding New York City. Design has given me an incredibly rich life.”