natalia illyn faculty

Professor of Design and Design History and Criticism

Natalia Ilyin



Natalia Ilyin is a design critic, teacher, and writer. Professor of Design, Design History, and Criticism at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, she has also taught at Rhode Island School of Design, Yale University, the Cooper Union, and the University of Washington. She is a founding faculty of the MFA in Graphic Design at Vermont College of Fine Arts, also known as VCFA. There, she advises graduate students on writing, critical thinking, and the constructs of history and design criticism. At Cornish, she and her former co-teacher Elisabeth Patterson created the Parallel Narratives design history curriculum and publishing program, which instills rigorous academic research skills in young designers, and grows design’s historical data from the student’s interests out, rather than from the historian down, resulting in an enriched reordering of the stories of design’s past. This course’s open-source syllabus is currently being taught in 21 design curricula internationally. Natalia also writes about design and culture. Through the years, her articles have been collected in several anthologies of design criticism, from the early Looking Closer 2 to the recent Total Armageddon. Her books include Chasing the Perfect: Thoughts on Modernist Design in Our Time, and the recent Writing for the Design Mind.


Rhode Island School of Design

Dominican University