Posted Wednesday, February 12, 2020 - 1:16 PM

Pratt Pairs: Valentine’s Day 2020

#PrattPairs

This Valentine’s Day, the Office of Alumni Relations is sharing the stories of alumni who fell for each other while they were students at Pratt.

Read about the couples’ magical moments, their favorite date spots, and relationship advice they have for Pratt students today.

Do you know of other Pratt pairs and partners? The Office of Alumni Relations would love to hear from you. Please share your stories by emailing alumni@pratt.edu.


CYNTHIA KWAN KNOTZ AND CHRISTOPHER KNOTZ

Cynthia Kwan Knotz and Christopher Knotz standing by a pier smiling. Christopher is holding their small white dog.

How and where did you first meet?

We first met at Higgins Halls in our first-year design studio in 1996.

What is your favorite Pratt memory as a couple?

Our favorite memory is falling in love during our travel abroad at the Rome 2000 program, and our first kiss at Cafe Latino while dancing the night away.

What is your favorite date story or date spot in New York?

Our favorite date spot in New York was meeting for lunch at the IBM building atrium on Madison and 56th Street while we were working in Manhattan, and our walks in Central Park.

Do you have any relationship advice for current students?

Find your best friend and soulmate and spend the rest of your life enjoying life and the world together.  

Where are you now personally and professionally?

Chris and I have been married for 16 years and we live in Irvine, California with our amazing dog Nikko.  We are both licensed and still practicing architecture; Chris is with the Friedmutter Group and I am with HKS. We were lucky to celebrate our 15th anniversary last year at the same Bridge in Rome (Ponte Sisto).


KATHY WISNISKI AND DEREK VERHOORN

Kathy Wisniski and Derek Verhoorn on their wedding day.

How and where did you first meet?
 

We first met freshman year during orientation week at the Playfair event held at the ARC. We happened to get grouped together in a group of 6-8 people for the evening’s activities. 

What is your favorite Pratt memory as a couple?
 

Some of our favorite memories were the trips to Pearl Paint for art supplies, exploring the city, making dinner together, critiquing and sharing ideas about our classwork, and late-night talks in our rooms.

What is your favorite date story or date spot in New York?

Our first “official” date was in January of 1992. We went to the Museum of Natural History and had dinner out on the Upper West Side. We both remember it was snowing heavily that night and have fond memories of walking back across a quiet Pratt campus as the snow fell.

Do you have any relationship advice for current students?

Always be completely honest and support each other’s pursuit for personal and creative growth. Don’t lose the ability to be vulnerable and always be flexible and open in your thinking. 

Where are you now personally and professionally?

We’ve been together since 1992 and officially married in 2008.

Kathy is Design Director of Contract Wallcoverings for the Momentum Group. She recently won Interior Design’s 2019 HIP award for the development of the Braille-inspired Louis design.

Derek is currently working for Philips North America where he works with multiple internal businesses using his design thinking and creative skills developing innovative next generation medical solutions.


HAO DONG AND BINKE LENHARDT

Binke Lenhardt and Hao Dong standing together in their studio.

How and where did you first meet?

We met in January of 1999, at Higgins Hall during the design studio. 

What is your favorite Pratt memory as a couple?

All those night shifts in Higgins Hall studio working together for the design studio projects.   

What is your favorite date story or date spot in New York?

One Sunday afternoon in winter, after a tour of the Met Museum, we walked over the Brooklyn Bridge while the sun set. That is the moment I expressed my affection for her. 

Do you have any relationship advice for current students?

It is a luxury to have your partner in life share your professional interests with you. So do not miss your chance during the design studio time.

Where are you now personally and professionally?

Currently, we both are located in Beijing, China. We co-founded the architectural design firm Crossboundaries and are practicing design in China and Germany. 


Charlie Cole and Kylie Shaffer

Kylie Shaffer and Charlie Cole standing together on a rooftop balcony with a big blue sky and buildings and trees behind them.

How and where did you first meet?

We had been in a video class together, but our first real meeting was at the Wallabout Film Festival. Charlie had seen Kylie's self-portraits in the ARC hallways and had wanted to talk to her for a while. Kylie was playing it cool. 

What is your favorite Pratt memory as a couple?

Charlie was on crutches during the first few months of the relationship, so nearly every date happened within a few blocks from Pratt. Honestly, hanging out at the playground across the street was always a really special place for us. 

What is your favorite date story or date spot in New York?

We used to do these blindfold dates where one person would have headphones and a blindfold on, and then be escorted around New York City by the other person's hand to an undisclosed surprise date. We always got funny looks, but it was great because you had to really, really trust the other person, and experience New York in a whole new way. One date went from Pratt to the ferry, which was a wild place to take off the blindfold!

Do you have any relationship advice for current students?

You are (presumably) still young: Have fun, and let yourself be vulnerable as much as you can. 

Where are you now personally and professionally?

We're approaching our 6-year anniversary, and are living together in Los Angeles. Kylie is a photographer for a well-known studio, and Charlie got an MFA in Cinematography and is now shooting feature films and music videos.


EUGENE AND SONIA FLOTTERON

Eugene and Sonia Flotteron wearing sunglasses and smiling.

How and where did you first meet?

We met in the second semester in 1994 in a Psychology of Sex and Gender Roles liberal arts class. We never saw each other before that class as I was a commuter (I drove in every day from Staten Island) and my wife lived on campus (originally from Queens) and our majors kind of kept us from crossing paths.

What is your favorite Pratt memory as a couple?

Painting Easter Eggs with Father Perry (Pratt resident priest) in the Ukrainian Egg Style at the Pratt Chapel. Father Perry ultimately married us at his affiliate church in Park Slope, St. Francis Xavier, which ended up being the most beautiful Gothic Style church that my wife and I had no idea about until we walked into it on our wedding day. Amazing!

What is your favorite date story or date spot in New York?

Our first date—it was the end of the semester. I noticed Sonia from the first day of class but never had the nerve to speak with her beyond "hi" and "bye" during class. The semester was coming to an end, I was running out of time, so I went up to her and asked if she wanted to study for the final together. I told her I did really well on the midterm. Sonia agreed and suggested that we meet in her dorm room to study because she was on campus. I had a near 4.0 GPA and the architectural final project deadlines typically kept me up all night at year end, so the only time I allotted to study for this class was this “date” with Sonia. Afterwards, we went out for sushi in the city. I would find out months later after we were dating that Sonia thought I was a bit of a player (really not the case) and thought I was going to totally make my move with this study offer; she was very surprised, and maybe a little bit disappointed, that all I did was use the time alone with her in her dorm to actually study! I think it won me big points and we were off from there.

Do you have any relationship advice for current students?

Just communicate! Find out with each another loves, wants, needs, and know that you are compatible. If you love to travel, they should love to travel. If you want children, they should want children. Do everything you do with passion, strive to be extraordinary—with love, your career, and all your relationships.

Where are you now personally and professionally?

I am a Principal, Partner and Director of Architecture at CetraRuddy Architecture DPC, an award-winning global architecture and interior design firm known for designing and developing projects rooted in site and context with an underlying commitment to the human experience. Our work includes supertall towers, restoration of historic landmarks, and new mixed-use, live-work-play communities.

Sonia did high-end swimwear design after college before starting our family. She then opened a high-end children’s boutique, which she owned and operated for seven years, that specialized in custom-designed dresses for special occasions.

This October, we will be married for 23 years. We have three children: Jadon (20), Darren (17) and Michaelle (10) and an amazing life together that started at Pratt and has been completely enriched by what we each learned while at Pratt—design, fashion, architecture, art, poetry, history, philosophy, and don’t forget (sexy) psychology!


KENNETH CHIANG AND JANET LEE CHIANG 

Janet Lee Chiang and Kenneth Chiang sitting together in a restaurant.

How and where did you first meet?

We met in 2004 through a mutual friend Jean Choi who was also in the same graduating architecture class. 

What is your favorite Pratt memory as a couple?

Surprising one other by waiting outside after classes so we could go for a small bite at the Pie Shop, or other local places like Luigi's, Pratt Coffee Shop, Chez Oskar, and Graziella's.  

What is your favorite date story or date spot in New York?

We made it our tradition to go to Artisanal Fromagerie Bistro on Park Ave. (now closed) every Valentine's Day. I also proposed to Janet at this restaurant.

Do you have any relationship advice for current students?

The little things add up. Do anything here and there to remind the other person that you are thinking of them.

Where are you now personally and professionally?

We’ve been married for 10 years. We currently reside in Brookville, Long Island with our two daughters, Lana and Molly.  

Kenneth is in real estate investment, development, and hospitality. Janet left McgarryBowen after eight years to care for our little girls.  She is currently a freelance designer. 


BRYAN AND JOYCE SERRA

Bryan kissing the Joyce's cheek as she smiles.

How and where did you first meet?

Freshman orientation week at Pratt in 1966 at a fraternity party on Clinton Avenue. Hung out in the backyard of brownstone on the fire escape steps drinking draft beer talking for hours.

What is your favorite Pratt memory as a couple?

We each bought used 3-speed bicycles, which we rode all over exploring the waterfronts by the Brooklyn Bridge, the Navy Yard, Schaefer Brewing Company, and even took the bikes on the subway and Staten Island ferry. We still have these bikes and use them weekly.

What is your favorite date story or date spot in New York?

We frequently took the subway to Greenwich Village which was an exciting place in the late sixties—the coffee shops, boutiques, the head shops, record stores, and the music scene. Saw Hendrix’s last NYE concert. We also loved going to Junior’s in downtown Brooklyn for the huge Banana Royale Sundae, which always ended in diners applauding after we finished it!

Do you have any relationship advice for current students?

After 50+ years together (our 50th anniversary is this August), our best advice is to work through arguments, solve problems, and keep a good attitude. The Pratt motto helps, “Be true to your work and your work will be true to you.”

Where are you now personally and professionally?

Bryan worked as an art director and then as a high school art teacher. Joyce worked designing textiles, and then became a parent coordinator. Both are currently retired and reside in Queens. When they are not traveling around the world, Bryan does photography and Joyce is a quilter. They have two grown daughters, one of whom also graduated from Pratt in 2003.


Frances Waite and Ian Valentine

Frances Waite and Ian Valentine on a rocky beach with water and a city behind them.

How and where did you first meet?

In 2011, the first week of the fall semester in our freshman year. We were a few dorm rooms apart in the third floor of Pantas. Ian was listening to Joanna Newsom in his room and Frankie walked in and said “cool”. 

What is your favorite Pratt memory as a couple?

We had other partners the entire time we were at Pratt! Right after we graduated Frankie was moved out of her apartment on Bedford Avenue and had no where to put one of her huge 9-foot paintings. Ian was driving back to Minneapolis in a U-Haul and offered to “keep it safe” until a later date.

What is your favorite date story or date spot in New York?

Frankie stayed in New York for a few years after graduating, and Ian moved from Minneapolis to Los Angeles. Ian wrote Frankie like 15 cute letters and Frankie didn’t respond to them for way too long. We texted back and forth every few months for years about the state of the painting. Eventually Ian came to visit Frankie and we fell in love and decided to move in together within 48 hours (we freaked out all our friends). Ian would visit Frankie every month in New York until she eventually moved to LA. We loved holding hands in East River park and walking over the bridge and getting the three-dollar sesame pancake sandwich from Vanessa’s.

Do you have any relationship advice for current students?

Keep an open mind and when you find someone who appreciates you and sees you for who you are, don’t snooze on them!!!

Where are you now personally and professionally?

We live in Silverlake, Los Angeles with two rescue cats and one rescue doggy. Ian is a creative director that produces concerts and Frances is an artist who makes drawings and paintings.


LONGIA AND WILLIAM (BILL) MILLER

Longia smiles at Bill as he's gesturing with his hands, smiling.

How and where did you first meet?

It was in Mr. Beerman’s Two-Dimensional Design class, Thursday afternoon, on the top floor of Higgins Hall, September 23, 1965 that Bill first saw Longia.  This was their second class together on the first day of their Foundation year at Pratt. At the end of the class, Bill saw Longia, framed in sunlight under a skylight, and for Bill it was “love at first sight.”

What is your favorite Pratt memory as a couple?

In October 1967, two years later, Bill got the courage to ask Longia on a date to visit Manhattan galleries and report on what they saw to Mr. Bove’s junior-year painting class. They visited several galleries that day, and one on West 57th Street was a standout showing Robert Breer’s kinetic sculpture. Scattered on the gallery floor were dozens of small, white geometric shapes that just lay there. Suddenly, Longia and Bill laughed simultaneously as the shapes moved at glacial speeds. Longia and Bill knew were they kindred spirits. 

What is your favorite date story or date spot in New York?

In the sixties they loved visiting every art gallery on Madison Avenue between MoMA and the Met. They now visit the New MoMA, plus eight galleries in Chelsea in a day along with the New Museum and the International Center of Photography.

Do you have any relationship advice for current students?

Listen to each other’s advice. Support and encourage each other.

Where are you now personally and professionally?

Longia and Bill celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 2019. Longia has a long and successful career as a freelance toy designer for major domestic toy manufacturers. Bill managed the development of corporate TV, print, radio, direct response, and Internet advertising. Both Bill and Longia paint and photograph. Longia also sculpts and works in fiber arts. Together they are active supporters of local art museums and participate in local art associations. 

Their three daughters are successful artists as well: a senior art director in magazine publishing, the associate director of the photo studio of our nation’s greatest publisher, a UX designer for one of the world’s technology leaders.


Read about more Pratt Pairs from 2019 and 2018.