Competition Says Something Good About NESADSU

Shawn Semmes' Remember You're Not Alone

In the short lifespan of the national Say Something Poster Contest, sponsored by HOW magazine (, NESADSU students, under the guidance of graphic design faculty Marie-Anne Verougstraete and Anne-Mary Wood-Mann, have brought home the top prize three times. Last year it was Shawn Semmes (Graphic Design 2012), followed this year
by sophomore Olivea Kelly and junior Brigid Griffin.

Say Something is a design contest and gallery show that gives designers the opportunity to create posters that will “inspire, motivate and educate teenage kids” (howdesign website). Each year the winning designs are donated to a non-profit organization. Last year Boston’s Home for Little Wanderers was the beneficiary; this year the posters went to the Dorchester-based Blue Hill Club, one of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston. HOW has been a sponsor of the competition since its inception, as part of their efforts to encourage design for change.

Gabrielle Kozera
Alan Auger

This year, Marie-Anne had the students in her Computer Applications in Design course enter the contest as a class assignment, as did the students in Anne-Mary’s Graphic Design I class. Of the total of 156 contest submissions this year, four NESADSU students’ posters made the semi-final round of 25, to be exhibited in two shows, one in Boston, the other in Los Angeles. They were Brigid Griffin (Free Your Mind), Olivea Kelly (Be a Lamp or a Lifeboat or a Ladder), Alan Auger (Be Here Now), and Gabrielle Kozera (Grow). In addition, the poster show judges added a new category this year, called “Staff Picks”, five posters that didn’t make the final round but that so impressed the Say Something Team that they were included in the exhibition (but not in the awards judging). NESADSU had an alum in this category as well, Silvi Naci (Graphic Design/Fine Arts 2011).

Olivea Kelly

From this group, two NESADSU students emerged among the top ten, Brigid and Olivea. Both posters spoke to teenagers in a way that words alone cannot. Olivia’s Be a Lamp (“shed light, help someone understand”) or a Lifeboat (“save a life, be there in a time of need”) or a Ladder (“help out, reach new heights”) carries a message for people of any age, while Brigid’s Free Your Mind was “inspired by a

Brigid Griffin

video I watched on the process of tall painting. The way the paint gracefully poured down inspired me to fluidly hand-draw all of these elements in order to convey a free feeling, encouraging others to open their minds.”

Congratulations to all the winners and runners-up from NESADSU. Great job!


Suffolk Honors NESADSU Alumni

Three NESADSU alumni have come under the radar of the College of Arts & Sciences’ Alumni Association and will be honored in April and June for their achievements. Kodiak Starr(Graphic Design 2002) has been chosen to receive the College of Arts & Sciences Young Alumni Award, while Marissa Borst (Interior Design 2006) and Eric Heins (Graphic Design 2009) will be honored as “10 Under 10” recipients.

Kody Starr

The Young Alumni Award is being presented to Kody Starr, who is currently the Creative Director of Digital Strategy at the White House, at a reunion reception and dinner at the State House on June 9th. The Young Alumni Award is awarded annually for demonstrated success in one’s profession or for contributions to society, while achieving a level of distinction that has brought honor both to the individual and to the University. To the best of our knowledge, Kody is the first NESADSU alum to work for the President of the United States, certainly in so creative a capacity.

The dinner and awards ceremony at which Kody will be honored will be held in conjunction with the reunions of the Suffolk classes of 1952, 1962, 1972, 1982, 2002, and 2007. As the class of 1962 is celebrating its 50th anniversary, two members of that class at NESADSU, Dan McCarron (Graphic Design) and Steve Zubricki (also Graphic Design) have been asked to join the reunion committee and are working diligently to locate “missing” classmates.

Marissa Borst

Marissa and Eric, as more recent alumni, have been chosen as recipients of the “10 Under 10” award. “10 Under 10” recognizes outstanding alumni of the past decade who have enjoyed major professional success, made an important difference in their community, or have been loyal supporters of the University. Marissa, who was recently featured in an article on this blog, is an interior designer with Architecture + Design Associates, Inc. in the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area, and is also Director of Programming for the
District of Columbia’s chapter of NEWH, the Network of Executive Women in Hospitality. In addition, she is the principal of All’s Well That Ends Well Designs, which specializes in miscellaneous art and design, and continues to work with FACETS Cares, a non-profit organization that helps those in need of affordable housing, food and medical care and the like.

Eric, a Graphic Design major at NESADSU, has been owner of and designer for Corter Leather since his junior year at NESADSU (“…and it was my full-time job within three months.”). He remembers one of his professors telling him, at the time of his senior portfolio review, “Don’t be afraid to do what you really love. Just because you have a degree in graphic design doesn’t mean you have to use every single part of it – you’re still designing”. Last year Eric designed and made a bracelet to benefit Red Cross relief efforts in Japan, following the earthquake and tsunami, sold 2,000 of them and mailed a check for $32,000, all is 27 days.

The “10 Under 10” event will be held on Thursday, April 26th at 6:00 PM at Boston’s Nine Zero Hotel (90 Tremont Street). Anyone interested in attending should contact Emma O’Leary at or 617.573.8456.

Kody Starr will be honored at a reception and dinner on Saturday, June 9th at 6:00 PM in the Nurses Hall, Grand Staircase and Great Hall at the Massachusetts State House. For more information on that event, please contact Laura Piscopo, Director of Alumni Relations, at or 617.573.8457.

Celebrating with Our Design Star: Michael Moeller


Michael Moeller with Interior Design Program Co-Directors Nancy Hackett and Karen Clarke

Amidst a setting of trendy high-end furniture and accessories, the Montage showroom at 75 Arlington Street was the scene of a celebration by the NESADSU Interior Design community on Friday night, March 9th. In observance of our graduate and undergraduate Interior Design programs’ ascent to #3 in Design Intelligence magazine’s nationwide rankings of interior design programs, Program Co-Directors Karen Clarke and Nancy Hackett invited their students and alumni to revel in these achievements. And to top off the DI programs rankings, Karen was also being honored for having been named one of their “25 Most Admired Educators of 2012”.

Kristen McGrath, ASID Student Chapter President, with Michael

2001 Interior Design graduate Michael Moeller was the evening’s featured guest. Now a successful New York-based interior designer and the visible face of several design-related television programs, most notably HGTV’s Design Star and Clean House New York on the Style Network, Michael gave an entertaining and advice-filled presentation. He began by tracing his own career trajectory, beginning with his first job with residential designer Alan Tanksley. This experience demonstrated the perils with working with and for the very rich (“I quickly learned this industry is full of devils who wear Prada”) but also compensations (“I’ve also had installs in homes that ended with a weekend on the beach ….or hitting the slopes for the day”.) Then, from a firm of eight, he moved to BBG-BBGM (“…consisting of close to 200 interior designers and architects, in several different offices, on three different continents.”). Now it was “grand spaces and intimate guestrooms” and more travel “in the four years I spent at this company than ever in my life”.

Graduate students Patti Zerhusen, Ester Nunes, Sarah Long, Angela Raciti, Elizabeth Lo, with Michael

Michael’s favorite project in the hospitality industry “was not a tangible space at all”. Instead he was charged with studying and inventorying the successes of Radisson’s European properties, by visiting and experiencing them. “Myself and two colleagues, along with several people from the owner’s side, jumped the corporate jet and headed to twelve cities in six countries. It was a whirlwind fourteen days in which we would arrive at a property, tour it, have lunch, jump the jet, hit the next property, tour it, have a spectacular dinner, spend the night, then do it all over again the next day. I saw more of Europe in those two days than most people will ever see in  a lifetime!” Aside from the fun and excitement, however, this trip taught Michael the importance of good conceptual design and brand standard adherence.

Michael with ASID Student Chapter members

After eight years of working for someone else, Michael decided to take the plunge and go into business for himself. “It started out slow, with only one large-scale residential new build home and a couple of small scale decoration projects” but, soon, business picked up on the strength of several good referrals, and he’s been on his own since.

Classmates Kevin Dumais, Amanda LaRose and Michael Moeller

Design Star came along just two years ago, in March of 2010 and, though Michael was not the ultimate winner, he did, as one of the two left standing in the final episode, garner plenty of attention and, ultimately, a stable of new clients (“after weeding through the unrealistic inquiries!”). As he notes: “TV is an interesting medium to work in. All the exhausting long hours, being produced to the point of feeling slightly like a live puppet, and putting yourself out there for the world to critique seems discouraging, but, to a true narcissist like myself, it fuels my fire, motivates me to reach higher, and, ultimately, not settle down until I achieve, to whatever extent I choose, my goal. My friends and family call me crazy…I’m OK with that…”

Mr. Speaker
& Then Editor Sara Chadwick with Michael

Then the advice: “You need to believe in your reason and always know your worth. What you do, who you are, your qualifications, all set you apart from the saturated world of the masses. You take the client’s taste and make it work better, convey their personality, and leave them with a one-of-a-kind product that was not shopped from the pages of a catalogue or website.” He also touted buying American when possible, “going green”, “peel[ing] back the layers of all these design trends”, in order to “stay true to your clients’ needs and wants, your concepts and yourself…”

Standing surrounded by students, faculty and alumni of the Interior Design programs, and in the midst of a showroom he was probably eager to plunder, Michael ended the evening by reminding his listeners that “… ultimately, it’s about loving what you do.”

Watch a video of Michael’s keynote address on the Interior Design Connections blog.

Besides being an impressive feather in the Interior Design cap, the DI program rankings have proven a powerful recruitment tool. According to Karen, several prospective students have told her that one of the reasons they are looking especially closely at NESADSU is our programs’ high standing. Given the fact that the survey participants are those “who have direct experience in hiring and in evaluating the performance of recent architecture and design graduates” (DI Survey Methodology), the rankings carry all the more significance for those who wish to enter the professional interior design world.

Faculty members Sean Solley, Anna Gitelman and Mark Brus applaud Karen Clarke

Montage, who generously loaned their space for the evening, is a staple on design students’ itineraries. Founded in 1959, Montage was originally conceived “to introduce the finest in contemporary furniture from Europe to the Boston design community” (Montage website) and continues to offer such manufacturers as B&B Italia, Cassina, Matteo Grassi and Poltrona Frau, among others. Montage also generously offers its showroom to NESADSU for the annual exhibition of graduate students’ thesis projects.




Images Courtesy of Molly Akin

An ICONic Experience

Two NESADSU Graphic Design alumnae, Eleanor Kaufman (2010) and Bianca Pettinicchi (2010) are following what’s beginning to seem like a well-travelled path to Switzerland, to put a few finishing touches on their design education. Coming a year after Amy Parker (2011) and Lauren DeFranza (also 2011) made the same trip, both are interning for ICON Worldwide in the canton of Appenzell, near the Austrian border. ICON is a full-service agency, specializing in branding, print communications, website development, and social and mobile media. Eleanor has graciously consented to share her blog with the NESADSU community, as she wrote about her study abroad experiences in a previous issue of & Then. Combining her daily accounts of working for an international design firm, with thoughts about living abroad, in the town of Gais, learning to navigate in German, and seeing as much of the countryside as she can fit into her busy schedule, Eleanor paints a portrait of an opportunity not to be missed. Interested graphic designers take note!


James McCarthy Named Ninth President of Suffolk


After a year and a half of interim leadership, Suffolk University passed the presidential reins from Acting President and Provost Barry Brown to James McCarthy on February 1, 2012. McCarthy becomes Suffolk’s ninth President, following David J. Sargent, who retired in October of 2010.

Most recently provost and senior vice president at Baruch College of the City University of New York, McCarthy comes to Suffolk after stints at Princeton University, the International Statistical Institute in London and Trinity College, Dublin. He also served at Johns Hopkins, Columbia and the University of New Hampshire. While at Baruch, an urban institution with 18,000 students and 500 faculty members, McCarthy steered the college through reaccreditation and strategic planning processes, both of which Suffolk faces in the near future.

A sociologist and demographer, President McCarthy holds a Ph.D. from Princeton, an M.A. from Indiana University and an A.B. from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester. Because of his time in Massachusetts and nearby New Hampshire, he feels a special affection for the city of Boston, one thing that led him to accept the presidency of Suffolk.

In his two weeks at the helm of Suffolk, President McCarthy has embarked on a listening tour, meeting with the faculties and staffs of the Law School, the Sawyer Business School and the College of Arts and Sciences, as well as the Student Government. He has plans to visit every department in the University for a first-hand look at what he’s inheriting.

In a open forum held on February 7th, and another a week later with CAS faculty, McCarthy demonstrated an impressive grasp of the issues confronting Suffolk, given the fact that he’d been President for 4 days at the first and then 11. At the first meeting he was relaxed and genial, displaying flashes of humor, confidence without a trace of arrogance, making, overall, a very positive first impression. At the second he went straight to specifics, promising to continue Suffolk’s traditions of accessibility and excellence, addressing his preference for a decentralized and somewhat simplified system of governance, a commitment to crystal-clear two-way communication, and a desire to restore the family atmosphere some think has been lacking in recent years. Though he only indirectly addressed the issue of facilities for NESADSU, it is clearly on his agenda and we’re therefore hopeful for a quick resolution to this vexing issue. He did, however, urge anyone with a question or problem to email him directly, something that we have already found works perfectly.

NESADSU welcomes James McCarthy to Suffolk and hopes to work closely with him to find solutions to the issues confronting the art school and the rest of the University.

Master of Arts Graduates in Graphic Design Stage an Exhibition at Fort Point

With large-scale thesis projects and a lack of display space at 75 Arlington Street, the January 2012 MAGD graduates took over the Fort Point Arts Community gallery on Farnsworth Street in Boston for a public exhibition of their work (which remains up until February 11th). Called Beyond Graphic Design, the tagline reads “Grow, Stitch, Travel, Imagine, Explode, Experience” and all those verbs only begin to explain the brilliant work one see on the walls.










The six program graduates, Emily Roose, April Kalix-Cattell, Shi-Min Chin, Kate Simonson, Jeanie Havens and Victor Cabrera, spent a minimum of three semesters working on the key project of their tenure at NESADSU. The amount of effort that went into each of the projects, the depth of commitment, the variety, and the stunning results were there for all to see.

One of the most challenging projects belongs to April Kalix-Cattell. Called “Fully Fed”, it “explores interactive, experiential design and its ability to bring awareness to the conflict between eating foods that fill us and truly being fed”. Against a backdrop of artfully arranged packaging containers, each bottle, box and jar painted a stark white, are several pedestals with immediately recognizable food products perched on top.

The familiar Cheez-It’s box, a bag of colorful candy, a jug of orange-flavored drink, a box of doughnuts, all “products we all know and love. Upon closer inspection, you will find the packages have been altered to highlight the non-nutritional value of these items. Inside are the ‘filler’ foods made from inedible materials such as cardboard, feathers, and sponges. The material choices communicate that these have as little nutritional value and provide as much satisfaction as the actual food products they represent.” April invites the viewer “to pick up, explore, and interact with my work. As you do, I hope to challenge your assumptions about something we all take for granted: our very definition of food.” And I guarantee you’ll never look at a package of prepared food in the same way again.


Shifting gears entirely, Emily Roose manages to make a biting statement about our obsession with breaking news stories that are “fast and ephemeral”, by slowly and painstakingly cross-stitching the images on canvas. In Slow-Breaking News, “I wanted to see how this transference of medium affects the message of these stories and highlights the absurdity of the way stories are reported in the media and the way we consume them.”

Using source imagery from television and news websites, she created six cross-stitch designs in about four months, then a seventh later on. Much of the stitching took place as she designed so there’s a wonderful spontaneity to all the pieces. The images ended as framed pieces and her documentation of the project made into three books: one on research on media theory, the second on the history of cross-stitch, and a third documenting the final work.


Victor Cabrera’s Branding Tourism for the Dominican Republic points out the obvious to anyone who has ever contemplated a Caribbean vacation: the simple fact that there are many wonderful places to vacation and a finite number of tourists to go there. With the crucial role that tourism plays in the economies of the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas, even the U.S., the question becomes how best to entice those tourists to one place, in this case Victor’s Dominican Republic.

“My thesis goal was to develop a comprehensive strategic framework for branding tourism for the Dominican Republic. For several years, this industry has been the number one generator of income and jobs for the country. I have developed a set of associated communication campaign materials and a modular system in which tourism for the Dominican Republic can be promoted around the world by offering a live experience that encompasses all of the senses.” By highlighting the allure of the Dominican Republic in large-scale photographic panels, a book, and a multi-sensory, movable encapsulation of the country and its myriad offerings for tourists, Victor can entice potential travelers to sample all the Dominican Republic has to offer. Hopefully they’ll follow with a visit to the real thing.


Using her background in interior design to complement her new-found skills as a graphic/environmental designer, Kate Simonson sought to increase “the value of the mural in a digital age”. The goal of her thesis was to “enhance the value of the mural… turning the art form into an event…by exploding parts of a mural all over the city”. By increasing the visibility of the mural, she hoped to “more positively impact the environment, communicate messages, and create community”.


Shi-Min Chin’s thesis project, titled Ultimate Roots: A Case for Expanding Spirit in the Growth of Ultimate Frisbee, was aimed at creating and branding a “grassroots organization for the sport of Ultimate Frisbee”, which she named Ultimate Roots. The object was to involve Frisbee players in community service, by drawing on their “spirit of the game” and their sense of moral responsibility in order to benefit the general public.


Jeanie Havens drew her thesis project, called Morris and Gawwk: Go to the Planet of Mud, from a childhood’s worth of stories created by her father, Thomas, and told in on-going narratives to her and to her brothers. Though never written down at the time of the telling, Jeannie has recreated the stories and given them graphic form in accompanying drawings for the first time. As she says, “I believe that Morris and Gawwk helped open the doors of creativity in me as a child and I hope their stories do the same for children and parents who encounter them today.”

Graphic Design Graduate Program Director Rita Daly, always a champion of her students, said about the exhibition and the work shown:

“The student projects shown in the January 2012 Masters in Graphic Design Thesis Exhibition represent just what the show title states: ‘Beyond Graphic Design’. Students realize the value in the uniqueness of the topics and the form their final thesis projects take. The diversity of subject matter and the personal manifestation of thesis ideas communicate the MAGD program goal of producing thinking, creative, well-qualified graduates, capable of adapting to and addressing the issues that will confront them as graphic design professionals.”

As NESADSU Chairman Bill Davis said, after a tour of the exhibition: “Ultimately, the Master of Arts in Graphic Design program is concerned with communicating complex ideas visually. The goal of the work here is not to create “pretty pictures”, but to inform and persuade intellectually, emotionally and visually. The six projects included succeed in doing this most convincingly.”

The MAGD Thesis Exhibition is open through Saturday, February 11th. The gallery is at 12 Farnsworth Street in Boston’s Fort Point neighborhood and is open Monday through Friday from 11 to 6 and on Saturday from 10 until 5.


Images Courtesy of Molly Akin

Design Intelligence Recognizes NESADSU

Design Intelligence magazine, in its fall 2010 issue on “America’s Best Architecture & Design Schools”, has ranked both The New England School of Art & Design at Suffolk University’s undergraduate and graduate interior design programs among the top 10 in the nation.

On hearing the news, Acting Suffolk President Barry Brown said, “Please let me add my congratulations to all those at NESAD who have contributed to this honor. We are so appreciative of the effort of faculty, administration and staff to achieve this ranking. The recognition by Design Intelligence is further confirmation of the growing national and international stature of NESAD and the great potential it holds for all of us at the University.” College of Arts and Sciences Dean Ken Greenberg, noting that NESADSU was “in very impressive company”, also acclaimed the “extraordinary achievement”.

The rankings, drawn from a survey of leading design firms, reflect “which college and university programs are best preparing students for professional practice”. NESADSU’s undergraduate program was ranked 5th overall, the graduate program tied for 6th, with the University of Oregon and Boston Architectural College (formerly the Boston Architectural Center). The results were further broken down by a skills assessment. NESADSU was ranked number one in Communication, number three in Design (in a tie with Parsons School of Design, RISD, University of Cincinnati and Syracuse), and number two in Sustainable Design Practices and Principles (with Florida State, Marymount University, Savannah College of Art and Design and the University of Florida).

Participants in the survey were design professionals “who have direct experience in hiring and in evaluating the performance of recent architecture and design graduates” (DI Survey Methodology). Research for the surveys was also provided by CIDA (Council for Interior Design Accreditation), among other accrediting and professional entities.

2011 is the first year that NESADSU has been mentioned in the survey. Enormous credit for the Interior Design programs’ successes should go to Program Co-Directors Karen Clarke and Nancy Hackett, as well as to all full-time and adjunct faculty members, to say nothing of our interior design students. Congratulations to everyone!


As we headed off to press, the 2012 Design Intelligence rankings were made public and NESADSU really shone this time. The undergraduate program in Interior Design moved from 5th place to 3rd (in a tie with Pratt Institute, the University of Cincinnati, the University of Florida and the BAC), while the graduate program moved up from 6th to 3rd in a tie with Pratt. In this year’s two skills assessment categories, NESADSU ranked 2nd in Communication and 3rd in Cross-Disciplinary Teamwork (with Auburn University). Once again, heartiest congratulations to Karen and Nancy, as well as to the faculty, students and staff of the program. This is quite an achievement!


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