Cindy Inspires Students With Words of Wisdom at Pratt Institute

Cindy Allen presenting “Cindy’s Table” at Pratt Institute on April 23. Photography by Samuel Herrera.

On April 23, Interior Design Editor-in-Chief Cindy Allen gave a first-hand glimpse into what it’s like leading the helm at Interior Design and offered some insider tips to a packed crowd of aspiring future designers at Pratt Institute. Entitled “Cindy’s Table”, her presentation highlighted talented designers from around the world who not only beautify the built environment, but can teach young designers invaluable lessons when they embark on their own careers.

After a warm welcome by Pratt’s president, Frances Bronet, Cindy launched into a quick review of her career as the magazine’s first female editor-in-chief. She used the juxtaposition of the September 2001 and September 2002 Interior Design Magazine covers to highlight how design is throughly baked into the fabric of everyday life. It was this realization, she said, that taught her a vital lesson about struggle and responsibility in this field.

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Frances Bronet, President of Pratt Institute. Photography by Samuel Herrera.

“Everyone is aware of design in some capacity, even if they don’t realize that they are interacting with it,” said Cindy. “That puts a lot of responsibility on you guys to create meaningful objects and spaces. But don’t be intimidated by this tall order. You’ll each find your own individual strengths in your struggles.”

She then launched into a survey of hand-picked, “hot shot” designers breaking into the industry today. These included Masquespacio, FreelandBuck, and X+Living, among others. What tied these selections together was a fearless dynamism embodied in the various projects Cindy showcased, like Masquespacio’s deliberate use of effervescent color for their Doctor Manzana commercial project, FreelandBuck’s off-the-wall reinterpretation of the office cubicle, or X+Living’s mirrored bookstores that plunge visitors into kaleidoscopic reveries of knowledge. Cindy explained that these designers all demonstrate that despite their young age and relative inexperience, they have a firm handle on their craft. “Keep working at your individual skills and talents,” she said. “Never take the easy road.”

Cindy had a chance to catch up with Pratt faculty and Hall of Fame inductees at the Institute. From left: Hall of Fame member and industrial design instructor Kevin Walz, Editor-in-Chief Cindy Allen, Hall of Fame member and interior design instructor Francine Monaco, Pratt's President Frances Bronet, Dean of Pratt Institute's School of Design Anita Cooney, and Pratt's School of Design Assistant Dean Camille Martin. Photography by Samuel Herrera.

She also spotlighted established designers who she considers her “idols.” These included Patrick Jouin, David Rockwell, and Anda Andrei, among many other luminaries and Hall of Fame inductees. She also lamented the fall of the design idol in today’s internet-driven industry. With immediate access to seemingly inexhaustible sources of inspiration on the internet, young designers become emotionally “flatlined by over-exposure,” she said. “Dig in to your idols, be unabashed in your devotion to them,” she said. “Your idols will help create and shape you in ways Instagram’s infinite scroll won’t.”

She concluded her presentation with some words of wisdom for the young designers — quick phrases that carried hard lessons culled from nearly 20 years of inexhaustible dedication to the design industry. She had echoed these same words to students at the New York School of Interior Design and the Savannah College of Art and Design earlier this year. Her presentation at Pratt represents another stop on her veritable “tour” of design schools, highlighting her mission to invigorate and champion design education.

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