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Parsons Table research files

Identifier: PC-08-02-01


This collection consists of correspondence, clippings, and research related to the Parsons table, a conceptual table design thought to have originated at the Paris Ateliers, the precursor to Parsons Paris, in the 1920s or 1930s and often attributed to French designer Jean-Michel Frank (1895–1941). The materials were assembled by the New School Archives staff as part of a Parsons School of Design Design and Management Department project in 2002.


  • 1922 - 2006
  • Majority of material found within 1960 - 1975



1.3 Cubic Feet (1 box)

Language of Materials


Scope and Content of Collection

The Parsons Table research files consist primarily of work conducted and assembled by the director and staff of the New School Archives in 2002 to support a Parsons School of Design's Design and Management Department project in which students would construct and market a version of the Parsons Table. Archives staff prepared a questionnaire for alumni to gather information about the origins of the table and its design. Several responses include sketches of the table. While furnishing no conclusive evidence, these files will be useful to researchers investigating the history of the table, its relationship to the school, and the stories that have been told about it.

Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research use. Please contact for appointment.

Use Restrictions

To publish images of material from this collection, permission must be obtained in writing from the New School Archives. Please contact:

Historical Note

The Parsons Table was reportedly designed at the Paris Ateliers, the precursor to Parsons Paris, sometime in the 1920s or 1930s. A modernist design, the chair is characterized by its straight, clean lines and square legs, in which the legs are the same width as the tabletop. French designer Jean-Michel Frank (1895–1941) is often identified as the creator of the table. Frank served as a critic in the Paris Ateliers, and one hypothesis suggests that he had students follow the simple table design as part of a classroom project in furniture construction.

Organization and Arrangement

Arranged alphabetically by subject.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Research compiled by archives staff.

Related Materials

The Stanley Barrows oral history in the New School Archives' Parsons School of Design Centenary oral history project (PC.07.01.01) includes a discussion about the origins of the Parsons Table. Course catalogs for the Paris Ateliers in Parsons School of Design course catalog collection (PC.05.01.01) provide details about the goals and instructors in the program in which the table probably originated. An article by Parsons School of Design faculty and design historian, Joanna Merwood-Salisbury, will be found in The New School Archives records (NS.08.01.03).

Guide to the Parsons Table research files
New School Archives and Special Collections Staff
March 9, 2012
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • January 24, 2023: Jason Adamo added inclusive dates and folder numbers to the folders.