Pharrell Williams

PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE: The peripatetic performer Pharrell Williams will be shelving his schedule long enough to be honored by the The New School at the 71st annual Parsons benefit on May 20 at Pier 60 in New York.

This year’s event salutes visionary individuals in fashion, technology and the arts that embody the university’s commitment to creativity, innovation and sustainability. Williams’ fellow Parson Table award honorees at the event will be Julie Wainwright, founder and chief executive officer of The Real Real, and Katrina Lake, founder and ceo of Stitch Fix. Michael Preysman, founder and ceo of Everlane, will receive the Frank Alvah Parsons Award. This spring’s benefit will be held at Pier 60. Williams won’t be the only Grammy winner in the crowd. The Latin Grammy award winner Linda Briceño will perform for guests.

Joel Towers, executive dean of Parsons School of Design, noted how the school is rooted “upon the idea that design can change the world,” and how “these exceptional honorees are reimagining the creative and commercial landscape in a way that will positively impact the industry for years to come.”

To that end, Parsons has “fundamentally changed” its curriculum to train students to embed sustainable and ethical fashion perspectives and practices into their work, according to Parsons’ dean of fashion Burak Cakmak.

And more students aiming for a Parsons diploma who are in need of financial aid scholarships may have more options, thanks to a sizable commitment by Julia Lin. As a Parsons School of Design parent and member of the school’s board of governors, Lin has pledged to match all new endowed scholarship giving at the $125,000 level and above. Individual donations will be matched up to $500,000. The total that will be matched overall is $6.25 million.

Noting how this year’s digitally focused honorees acknowledges a key element of the future of retail, Julie Gilhart, a member of Parsons’ board of governors, highlighted the event’s big sustainability undertone, due to the school’s continued focus on that. “Then in comes Pharrell who represents so much creativity, innovation, technology, sustainability, social justice,” Gilhart said. “He’s doing so much as a musician and working with the younger generation. He really was one of the first ones to deep dive into promoting sustainable processes. He represents all of the things that we are interested in. The school has a music school, a design school and architecture. Between The New School and Parsons, I wish he were our president.”

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