The Rowena Reed Kostellow Fund


20 Feb 2017

Schutte, Juette Receive 2017 Rowena Reed Kostellow Award

Dr. Thomas Schutte, President of Pratt Institute was awarded the Rowena Reed Kostellow Award. “President Schutte has been an advocate for our work ever since he came to Pratt in 1993!” declared Tucker Viemeister, Chair. “And he has been with us awarding most of the previous 20 winners!” And this year for the first time, a new Young Designer Award was be given to Cindy Juette, Chrysler interior designer.

Former Provost, Peter Barna presented the award with speech about how the Award recognizes Dr. Schutte’s exceptional energy, enthusiasm, and vision advancing the principles of design that Rowena Reed Kostellow taught. Decades before he came to Pratt, Dr. Schutte was a design campaigner as president of the Rhode Island School of Design, and before that, as president of the PCA (now University of the Arts). During Dr. Schutte’s 24-year tenure at Pratt, “Tom has accomplished extraordinary regrowth for Pratt. In so doing, he has become a dear friend of the Rowena Reed Kostellow Fund. He was instrumental in helping us restructure procedures to directly help and honor students in the Industrial Design Program. He has always been there to listen and share his thoughts,” stated Louis Nelson, Chair Emeritus.

Cindy Juette, completed her MA from Pratt in 2010, she then won a Fulbright scholarship for a second MA program in Automotive Design from Coventry University and also holds a degree from Art Center. Now she works as an interior designer at Chrysler. She says: “I do bring Pratt's 3-D education with me wherever I go. It is such a unique approach to form making and I feel so lucky to have been a part of that curriculum.”

Cindy Juette acceptance of the first RRK Young Designer Award

Dr. Schutte joins 20 other champions of the Abstract Principles of Visual Relationships who have received the award, including: Gina Caspi, Ivan Rigby, Eva Zeisel, Gerald Gulotta, William Fogler, Eugene Grossman, Ralph Appelbaum, James Fulton, Louis Nelson, Judy Collins, Bruce Hannah, Ted Muehling, Lucia N. DeRespinis, Tom Patti, Leonard Bacich, Bill Katavolos, Charles Pollock, Ruth Shuman, RitaSue Siegel and Linda Celentano. These teachers, entrepreneurs and designers embody the mission of the fund inspired by Rowena’s teaching: to encourage and guide a systematic educational approach to all forms of visual expression.

Peter Barna’s Speech

“To me Pratt has always been a she.

“From my initial graduate student application 37 years ago, I always considered Pratt a female partner.

“And 37 years ago, I studied under Rowena Reed Kostellow. Where I learned from her how to GAZE: basically, how to wonder, how to see, and how to create with hands and eyes as one.

“It was a remarkable enlightenment that she taught, while Pratt’s windows and buildings and bones rattled in the background.

“But she elegantly danced on, clear-eyed about the future of form to shape artistic students’ visions. I suspect her strength came from her students’ appetite to learn the secrets of her GAZE. Clear evident abounds that she was right. Many of her former students are premier designers and are here tonight.

“24 years ago, I began to study under Tom and Tess Schutte’s GAZE.

“When they came to Pratt, the windows and buildings and bones of Pratt still rattled. And I wondered how their dancing could possibly stop Lady Pratt’s shuttering? How they could renew her to the youth of learning I had experienced in Rowena’s presence.

“I observed Tom weekly at Senior Staff meetings; reviewing data dripping from enrollment projections, and budget spread sheets, and managing collective and sometimes conflicting visions from trustees and VP’s alike. Endless, endless, endless meetings: often with no apparent resolutions.

“They attended countless faculty show openings and provided clockwork pasta and candies at annual holiday events. But these details did not seem to sum up to the remarkable resurrection of Pratt I witnessed.

“Tom, I looked into your MBA curriculum at Wharton for lessons on art school revival. Nothing came up in their courses or catalogs.

“I looked into Lutheran doctrine for clues of organizational salvation, and only found guidance on an individual’s path to heaven.

“I checked into your upbringing and the cultural history of Rochester. No direct arrows of how this made possible the transformation of Pratt from quaking bones to a healthy structure.

“I had come up short. How did you transform Pratt from a skeleton to World Class? Confused, I looked to Poets: for answers of who and how? A transformation that made possible the preservation of the remarkable teaching heritage of Rowena Reed.

“And I finally found direction in the words of two Brooklynite poets from the 1960’s - Carol King and Gerald Goffin.


Who restored Pratt’s BOMP, to our BOMP BAH BOMP BAH BOMP?
Who put the RAM in our RAMA LAMA DING DONG?
Who returned the BOP to our BOP SHOO BOP SHOO BOP?
Who brought the DIP to Pratt’s DIP DA DIP DA DIP?
Who was that man?
We’d like to shake his hand.
He made Pratt’s Lady fall in love with WE.

“So, Dr. Shutte, from the bottom of our BOOGITY, BOOGITY, BOOGITY, SHOO; we present you with the 2017 Rowena Reed Kostellow Award and a love song from Barry Mann.

(Play “Who Put the Bomp” by Barry Mann)

President Schutte Award Acceptance Speech

“Thank you very much, Peter, for your generous remarks about me and Pratt Institute. And thank you, especially, to Tucker Viemeister and the entire selection committee for choosing me to be the 2017 recipient of the Rowena Reed Kostellow Award.

“Over the past 24 years, I have been amazed by the tremendous inventiveness, integrity, and qualities of mind that the recipients of this award possess. I would never have imagined that I would one day be among those selected to receive this singular award. I am also honored to see so many of the remarkable men and women who have received the Rowena Reed Kostellow Award here tonight.

“Since it was first presented to Gina Caspi in 1990, the Rowena Reed Kostellow Award has typically gone to either a Pratt graduate, a Pratt faculty member, or an individual who was both. I, on the other hand, am neither.

“I am sorry to say that I never had the privilege of meeting Rowena or studying her philosophy. However, she touches me every day through the immense impact she has made on Pratt students, Pratt faculty, Pratt alumni, and Pratt Institute as a whole.

“Rowena embodied all that is special about Pratt, and her teachings have helped make the Institute what it is today.

“First and foremost, Rowena established a philosophy and methodology for understanding visual relationships that became a hallmark of the Pratt design curriculum. Her approach, which allowed students to discover for themselves the way to tackle any number of design challenges, has made Pratt industrial design alumni some of the most successful and in-demand professionals in almost EVERY creative field, as well as in many others.

“In addition, because they have integrated Rowena’s process and way of thinking into their very beings, these alumni have the confidence and skills to be able to adapt and successfully move from one industry to another.

“I am continually amazed by the number of Pratt industrial design graduates who tell me how much their approach and thinking have advanced because of Rowena’s teachings. Her legacy has helped make Pratt’s industrial design program one of the most recognized and sought-after in the world.

“Of course, it was not just Rowena’s teachings that made her such a transformational educator. Rowena was invested in her students and got to know each of them, recognizing and nurturing their individual talents and interests. She could be a tough critic—but she knew whom she could push. She knew which of her students would, as RitaSue Siegel commented in her 2015 acceptance speech, “take in the criticism and bring back something better.” She knew how to bring out the best in her students, how to ensure that they continued to strive for ever greater levels of excellence.

“Pratt is fortunate to have had several of Rowena’s former students on the faculty. They and their colleagues continue to challenge our students to push themselves further—as Rowena did.

“To me, Rowena’s impact is clearest in the area of problem solving.

“Rowena believed that the designer’s first responsibility was to find and develop visual solutions for living in our environment. In many ways, that is Pratt’s mission—to train creative professionals to be responsible contributors to society. Pratt students and faculty in every discipline do that every day through identifying challenges and devising ways to address them and improve our lives.

“I’ve heard this time and again from Pratt students; when they graduate they are confident that they have the tools they need to tackle almost any obstacle. They are problem solvers—and Pratt is a problem-solving place.

“Over the past 24 years, I have had the opportunity to do a lot of problem-solving, inventing, and innovating in my role as President. I have been inspired by Rowena’s mindset on many occasions. She knew that problem solving could be methodical, logical, and enjoyable.

“Most important, she knew that the true solution would be beautiful. As she said, “If you can’t make it beautiful, what’s the point?”

“For me, one of the biggest challenges when I arrived at Pratt was creating a campus environment that was commensurate with our remarkable students and faculty. While I cannot claim to have drawn on Rowena’s teachings in my work to improve Pratt’s campus, it is now a beautiful place. Most important, it provides Pratt students and faculty with the environment and resources they need to do their own creative problem solving.

“I hope that if Rowena were here she would be proud of the many developments that have taken place at Pratt since she introduced her design curriculum. I am tremendously grateful to her for helping to establish Pratt as a leading voice in the world of industrial design.

“And I am tremendously grateful to all of you for honoring me with this award. This is a very emotional moment for me. Thank you!”

About the RRK Fund

The Rowena Reed Kostellow Fund at Pratt Institute was organized after her death in 1988 to continue her teachings by supporting scholarships, publishing and programs. Rowena, with her husband Alexander Kostellow and Donald Dohner, created Pratt's Industrial Design program merging form, function, and industry. Their objective was to develop an education system based on analysis of abstract visual relationships that would be valid for all forms of visual expression, including architecture, product design, graphic design, and fine art.

The program flourished and became the foundation of many courses and ID programs around the world. For over 50 years, Rowena taught three-dimensional design at Pratt, where she told her students “If you can't make it more beautiful, what's the point?”

Learn more about Rowena, her teaching methodology, and Pratt Institute in Gail Hannah's book, Elements of Design: The Structure of Visual Relationships, published by Princeton Architectural Press.