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Account From Haig Khachatoorian

a black and white image of a man with short hair in formal wear smiling

“I attended the Pratt Department of Industrial Design from 1963–1967. During my later studies in the program, I encountered Professor Kostellow. She taught me the analytical and critical languages of design, conceptual languages that involve 3-D forms and spatial relationships. There were two principle sets. One dealt with the dominant, sub-dominant, subordinate; the other with the static (perpendicular), dynamic (angular/directional), and organic (curvilinear). These conceptual definitions were used in developing, creating, and composing objects and environments. Understanding them helped me create order, balance, tension, harmony, hierarchy, flow, beauty, and visual impact. I could also critique existing designs in terms of these principles. 

“I took a course in exhibition design with Rowena in my senior year. It was a culmination of the design knowledge I had gained from her, Professor Bill Fogler, and others. I chose an aquarium space as my project focus, because it presented a variety of challenges. At the same time I was working on my thesis project, the first interdepartmental collaboration of its kind. It was done with a senior in the Department of Architecture, Armando Sanchez, and with consultants from the transportation industry—airline pilots, airport architects, FAA officials, and engineers. This particular project was all-consuming, since it was a complex airport for supersonic aircraft. It integrated all aspects of airport design into a machine-like system that serviced passengers and planes through pods and underground conveyances, and included surrounding facilities for light industry, airlines training, hotel accommodations, and rail/water/ground transport facilities. It was apparent to Rowena that I was distracted in her class and not performing as expected. She confronted me and I explained being torn between the two projects. Understanding the importance of having passion for one’s work, she allowed me to focus my attention on the latter.

“In June 1967, I received the IDSA Student Merit Award and did my portfolio presentation at RISD, representing Pratt. In 1968, our supersonic airport was submitted for competition and won the 1st Alternate NIAE Paris Prize.

“Along with my professional career as industrial designer and consultant, I had a splendid academic career of more than 30 years. I owe my passion for teaching to my outstanding experiences at Pratt, and to instructors like Rowena Reed Kostellow.”

—Haig Khachatoorian, BID 1967