Tim Parsons

Tim Parsons
Partner, Parsons & Charlesworth
Associate Professor, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Tim Parsons is co-founder and a partner in the Chicago-based design studio Parsons & Charlesworth. He’s also associate professor and chair of the Designed Objects Program in the Department of Architecture, Interior Architecture and Designed Objects at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Parsons studied Industrial design before earning a master of the arts degree in design products at London’s Royal College of Art in 2000. He taught product design for 15 years at universities in the United States and in Britain such as University of the Arts London and Manchester Metropolitan University.

As a designer, Parsons has worked with manufacturers in Britain and Europe and exhibited widely, including at The Design Museum London and MCA Chicago. As a writer, he’s contributed articles and essays to publications including Blueprint, ICON, Crafts and Phaidon’s Design Classics. His book Thinking: Objects: Contemporary Approaches to Product Design, was published in 2009 by AVA Academia.


Crafting Narratives: Design as Cultural Production

Throughout the 20th century, design has broadened and fragmented into a diffused array of sub-disciplines, specialisms and practices. Designers today have a greater sense of autonomy and self-determination than ever before. A key aspect of this shift has enabled designers to directly address social and cultural issues through work that sits outside the realm of mass production. Using the tools of object design, designers create potent and moving works that provoke audiences to consider their position on important subjects of our time.

Through the lens of their independent design practice, Tim Parsons and Jessica Charlesworth will discuss the process of treating design as a mode of cultural production. Considering objects as agents of change, they’ll engage humor, irony and storytelling to create new object typologies and propose alternate ways of living that comment on contemporary issues.