The Rowena Reed Kostellow Fund

What’s New

5 Sept 2023

The Rowena Reed Kostellow Award honors Tucker Viemeister, BID ’74, its 2023 recipient

“Beautility,” is a word invented by this year’s awardee, Tucker Viemeister. His work embraces the concept that aesthetics are embodied in the design of human experience.

His father, Read Viemeister, was an early graduate of Pratt’s Industrial Design program. Thirty years later, Viemeister also graduated from the program, and in 2018, he was honored with Pratt’s Alumni Achievement Award. His designs are in the permanent collections of MoMA and the Smithsonian, and he holds 32 US utility patents. The press has described him as a “Wiz-kid,“ “Guru,” and “industrial demigod.” In 2016, the IDSA voted him one of the 50 “most notable” industrial designers.

Viemeister is most famous for creating the OXO GoodGrips with his partners at Smart Design in 1986. The famous handle design started as a vegetable peeler for people with arthritic hands. The form evolved from his simple question, “Why does design for older people always look frumpy?” This provocation was the starting point for his pioneering work in the Universal Design movement. Over his career, Viemeister’s designs range from voting machines (Microsoft) to exhibitions (Shanghai Planetarium) and contributions to the HyperloopTT project. He was EVP of Razorfish, opened frogdesign’s NY office, and founded “the LAB” at RockwellGroup. Viemeister’s latest product is for Loliware - a sustainably designed, single-use flatware made from seaweed, an earth-friendly material that dissolves after use.

Viemeister has been an outspoken ambassador for innovation+aesthetics in industrial design. A fellow of the IDSA, he just received the Lifetime Achievement Award. He is also the VP of the Architectural Society and is a prolific writer, lecturer and professor.

Attendees at the September 26th awards ceremony at the Pratt Manhattan Campus

(left to right) Karen Stone, Bruce Hannah, Tucker Viemeister, RitaSue Siegel, Linda Celentano, Louis Nelson

The ceremony was both in-person and virtual

7 Sept 2022

The Rowena Reed Kostellow Award honors its 2022 recipients, John Pai, BID ’62, and Keith Kirkland, MID ’15.

John Pai was Rowena’s student when he studied industrial design and then sculpture in the graduate program at Pratt in the 1960s. He became the youngest professor to be appointed to the faculty and lead Pratt’s fine arts and sculpture programs. Teaching for nearly four decades, Pai proved a talented educator, simultaneously nurturing generations of sculptors and fostering the burgeoning Korean artistic community in New York. Pai found success exhibiting his oftentimes unfolding, geometric sculptures at the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, and the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea. He is represented by Gallery Hyundai.

Keith Kirkland is deeply honored to have been considered for the Rowena Award which was given to 3 of his great teachers: Gina Caspi, Bruce Hannah and Charles Pollock. Reading about Rowena’s teachings in the book Elements of Design is what made him first choose to come to Pratt. He also studied at Keio University School of Media Design, Tokyo; Royal College of Art, London; FIT, NYC and Rutgers University in NJ. He was a TED fellow and MET MediaLab fellow. Combining design, technology, movement and touch his work with haptic navigation in a wrist-wearable Wayband helped the first blind person run the NYC marathon without sighted assistance.

John Pai on Rowena and Pratt:

“I was thinking about Rowena, my first impression of her was just as a human being. She told me one night that she needed some help repairing something in her house. She lived in Queens, and you know I lived in Brooklyn. She had a Volvo with a floor stick shift, and so she’s driving, in the midst of the Brooklyn/Queens traffic. As she’s doing this, she lets go of the steering wheel, and I said to myself, “Wow, this is not an ordinary woman!

“So, we started talking about one of her assignments or something. I think the sun came up when we started, and she kept talking. I swear, I think the sun went down, and she didn’t stop.

“You know, a lot of people had the impression that she was teaching some kind of methodology, because you hear the words dominant, subdominant, subordinate, and all that, and think it’s a formula for how to design. And, actually, when I saw her teaching, it was about something else; it was about dedication.

“And not only was she a fantastic teacher, but she was really concerned about the student learning. What did I learn from her? I thought, ‘I want to teach just like her.’

“People ask me when they see my early paintings, so you could have been a painter. What made you turn to sculpture? And it’s because whenever we had these long talks, we talked about everything; what we did last night…I happened to see the New York City Ballet for the first time, and I just loved everything about it, the form, the movement, the music, the choreography…and she could talk about all those things. And so, when you talk with somebody about so many subjects, you have to make five billion decisions or value judgments, and you’re developing your intuition in ways you can’t even calculate. But who’s willing to do that? How many teachers are willing to stay with one student and talk for hours?

“I remember we had some students who were not hearing the same things I was. They would listen to her talking about design. And she was talking about all the principles that you should be considering. And they thought they were dealing with some kind of design principle, like a formula you need to learn, and then you can talk about design. And, she said one day, ‘You know I’m not about formula. I’m about intuition. I want to develop your intuition.’

“One time we were talking about something, and I was kind of fidgeting about what I didn’t like about my own design. I couldn’t solve this problem, and I’m not happy with it. She slammed her pencil down and said, ‘Don’t, worry about your mistakes or weaknesses. Work on your strengths.’

“And it woke me up: ‘What are my strengths?’ That was a great lesson.”

“The 1960’s for Pratt, was a period of expansion and consolidation. Undergraduate sculpture existed mainly as a part of the Art Education Department, while a parallel program was offered in the Evening School. The Graduate School, under Calvin Albert, offered a complete MFA. In the process of sorting out graduate from undergraduate, I was asked to head the undergraduate sculpture program. In order to accommodate majors in Painting, Sculpture, Photography, and Printmaking, etc., the School of Art and Design was divided into Divisions: Art Division, Design Division, Foundation Division, Graduate Division, etc. I was asked to be the Director of the Division of Fine Arts, (Undergraduate.)

“I became a strong believer in the idea of developing intuition. It takes a lot of work, and you have to approach the problem in so many different ways, upside down, sideways, and cut it into pieces. I think there’s a side to art and design that’s basically very human, and it takes a kind of dedication. And I guess a kind of honesty, I used to have a drawing teacher who would say whatever about someone’s drawing, and then, “I don’t know what the hell I am doing! I am looking for the truth.’

“We were wondering, well, what is the truth? And he would say, ‘I’m looking for it.’

“Anyway, I thought we all had these teachers/characters who we remember. Bill Katavolos was one of those that a classmate — George Schmidt — and I got to know. One day Katavolos said, ‘You know Rowena? She’s a blue blood. And what does that mean? She’s royalty.’

“And it’s so great that we have heroes. And I’m so happy we can celebrate for her and for us.”

24 Jul 2021

Join us for the 2021 Rowena Reed Kostellow Awards honoring Karen Stone and the design team Chen Chen and Kai Williams.

Karen Stone is a great designer, teacher, and supporter of the Rowena Fund. Karen's passion for experimenting with spatial relationships and objects in space developed at an early age with formal training in music and music performance. more…

Registration for the virtual awards ceremony is free and all donations benefit the Rowena Reed Kostellow Fund, which supports student scholarships and programming in Pratt’s Industrial Design department. If you are unable to join us on August 12 but would like to make a contribution in honor of the award recipeints or in memory of Rowena, make a gift online.

16 Feb 2020

Announcing the 30th Anniversary Rowena Reed Kostellow Awards to Jefferson and Cotton!

The Rowena Fund is happy to present Everardo Jefferson with the 2020 Rowena Award and also to honor Billy Cotton with the Young Rowena Award. This will mark the 30th year of the Rowena Award program since Gina Caspi won the first award in 1990. more…

26 Feb 2018

John Cafaro, Executive Director of Global Chevrolet Design, and Cole Haan Designer Ariana Zarillo Receive Rowena Reed Kostellow Award

The awards event took place Wednesday, March 28th, 2018 at the Knoll Showroom, 1330 Avenue of the Americas, New York. more…

8 Mar 2017

Pratt President Schutte and Chrysler Designer Cindy Juette Receive Rowena Reed Kostellow Award

Dr. Thomas Schutte, President of Pratt Institute was awarded the Rowena Reed Kostellow Award. And this year for the first time, a new Young Designer Award was be given to Cindy Juette, Chrysler interior designer. more…

26 Apr 2016

Linda Celentano receives 2016 Rowena Reed Kostellow Award

Linda Celentano, stalwart of Pratt’s ID program will be awarded the Rowena Reed Kostellow Award on April 26, 2016 in the Knoll showroom. more…

6 Feb 2015

RitaSue Siegel to receive Rowena Reed Kostellow Award

RitaSue Siegel, an icon of design recruiting, will receive the Rowena Award on March 10, 2015. The event will take place at HumanScale, 11 East 26th Street, 8th floor, in Manhattan on from 6:00 – 8:00pm. more…

3 Feb 2015

Profile: Lucia Derespinis

Meet the George Nelson Associate Who Designed the Dunkin’ Donuts Logo. Lucia DeRespinis, industrial designer and Pratt Institute graduate, teaches at her alma mater, instilling midcentury rigor in the creators of tomorrow.

Read the Dwell Magazine Article

22 Aug 2014

An Elements of Design Reading Stool

Check out this stool that was designed specifically for Rowena's book, Elements of Design. more…

14 May 2014

Ruth Shuman Receives 18th Rowena Reed Kostellow Award

President of Publicolor, Shuman moves design principals beyond the traditional realm working with students as her medium and engagement as her product. more…

9 April 2014

2014 Rowena Student Award Winners Announced

This year 12 nominees did an excellent job with their 3D work, their presentations (both physical and verbal) were clean and well designed. more…

24 August 2013

Charles Pollock, Designer of Popular Office Chair, Dies at 83

Charles Pollock, an industrial designer whose vision of “a simple line in space” led him to develop sleek, functional chairs that became a hallmark of executive suites in the latter 20th century, died on Tuesday in a fire in South Jamaica, Queens. He was 83.

Read the NY Times Obituary

8 March 2013

Charles Pollock receives the Rowena Reed Kostellow Award

Prolific chair designer, Charles Pollock, will be honored with the 2013 Rowena Reed Kostellow Award for his dedication to three-dimensional design. The Award recognizes people who advance the principles of design that Rowena Reed Kostellow developed and rewards those who have excelled with their application. more…

19 January 2012

William Katavolos receives the Rowena Reed Kostellow Award

Designer, architect, visionary and inspirational professor, Bill Katavolos will be honored with the Rowena Reed Kostellow Award for his dedication to three dimensional design. The ceremony will take place the Knoll Showroom in New York on March 8, 2012. The Award recognizes people who advance the principals of design that Rowena Reed Kostellow developed. more…

10 February 2010

Pratt Mourns the Loss of ID Professor Leonard "Lenny" Bacich

Pratt mourns the loss of Leonard "Lenny" Bacich, longtime professor of industrial design who died on February 3 at age 67. Lenny was popular among generations of 3-D design students. He graduated from Pratt with a bachelor's degree in industrial design in 1963 and a master's degree in industrial design in 1971. more…