Professional Experience

Visiting Instructor, History of Art & Design
Pratt Institute

Course: “Origins of Contemporary Communication Design”

Adjunct Faculty, MA Design Research

Course: “Approaches to Design History”

Jan 2017–present
Design Curator + Cultural Consultant
Recent projects include the exhibition Social Mobility: Envisioning Bodies in Motion at the Hyundai Motorstudio Beijing and the Rong Zhai historic residence and cultural center in Shanghai for Prada (both in collaboration with design studio 2x4).

May 2013–Jun 2016
Director of Strategic Initiatives
AIGA, the professional association for design

Responsible for strategy, budgets, programming, member/chapter engagement, communications, and content creation for the organization’s national initiatives including Diversity & Inclusion, Women Lead, Design for Good, Get Out the Vote, and In-house Initiative. Previously, led AIGA’s annual competition, centennial programs, and exhibitions at the AIGA National Design Center.

Feb 2013–May 2014
Guest Curator
Vandalorum, Centrum för Konst och Design
(Värnamo, Sweden)
Co-curated, with museum director Elna Svenle, the exhibition Barnets Århundrade: Nordisk Design för Barn 1900-2000  (Century of the Child: Nordic Design for Children 1900-2000). This major regional survey, inspired by the 2012 MoMA exhibition Century of the Child, travels from Sweden to venues in Copenhagen, Helsinki, Reykjavik, Berlin, and London 2014–2018.

Dec 2012–Mar 2013
Design History Consultant
Pernod Ricard
Researched and produced a 400-page illustrated report on the cultural/design history of bottles (prehistory to 20th Century) for the French wine and spirit company’s Department of Creativity.

Aug 2008–Dec 2012
Curatorial Assistant, Department of Architecture & Design
The Museum of Modern Art

Provided curatorial leadership and project management for 14 exhibitions (special loan exhibitions and collection-based installations drawing from approx. 30,000 works), publications, acquisitions, research and cataloguing, public and press inquiries, and social media. Offered lectures and tours for public programs, student groups, and VIPs. Worked integrally with other curators, managed 10 interns, and served as primary liaison with colleagues in Education, Security, Registration, Graphics, Development, Publications, Communications, Exhibition Design, and Retail. 

Jan–Nov 2007
Assistant to the Director, The National Design Awards
Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
Assisted with all aspects of the annual awards program run by Cooper Hewitt, including submission processing and archiving; research projects; calendar and budget management; communication with nominees, jurors, and winners; writing and editing for mailings and publicity materials; and organizing the White House luncheon for honorees and National Design Awards Gala at the museum.

Fellowships + Internships

Summer 2007
Research Assistant, Department of Art and Design Studies
Parsons School of Design
Conducted research for Department Chair Hazel Clark’s article on Slow Design in the global fashion industry (published 2008 in the Journal of Fashion Theory).

Fall 2006
Curatorial Fellow, Product Design and Decorative Arts
Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
Conducted collections research for the guest-curated exhibition IDEO Selects: Works from the Permanent Collection (Jun 2007–Jan 2008). Assisted with external inquiries, administrative and research projects, object handling and cleaning, acquisitions committee meetings, and exhibition photography.

Summer 2003
Curatorial Intern
The Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University

Conducted extensive research on a neglected acquisition of 1877 culminating in a final paper and presentation to museum staff, exhibition proposal, and subsequent honors thesis.

Summer 2001
Curatorial Intern, Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas
The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Reporting to Associate Curator Virginia-Lee Webb, catalogued 1930s-50s materials from German anthropologist/missionary Dr. Paul Gebauer.


MA, History of Design & Curatorial Studies
Parsons School of Design + Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

Honors: Graduate Dean’s Scholarship (2006–7 and 2007–8), Curatorial Fellowship (Fall 2006), Most Outstanding First-Year Student Award, Distinction awarded for MA oral examinations

BA Cum Laude, Archaeology and Social Anthropology
Harvard University

Honors: Arthur Kluckholn Prize for outstanding honors thesis, Magna Cum Laude distinction in field, Harvard College Research Program grant, Goelet Fund thesis research grant


Prada Rong Zhai
2x4 with essays by Aidan O'Connor (Prada, 2017)

Social Mobility: Envisioning Bodies in Motion
2x4 with Aidan O'Connor, ed. and essay by Michael Rock (Hyundai Motor Company, 2017)

The Journal of Design History
Contributed exhibition review “Designing Modern Women, 1890-1990” (Taylor & Francis, 2016)

The Who, the What, and the When
Multiple author-illustrator pairs with foreword by Kurt Andersen (Chronicle Books, 2014)
Contributed the essay “Octave Chanute: Mentor to the Wright Brothers”

Barnets Århundrade: Nordisk Design för Barn 1900-2000
Aidan O’Connor, Elna Svenle, Jukka Savolainen, Anne-Louise Sommer, eds. (Vandalorum, 2013)

West 86th: A Journal of Decorative Arts, Design History, & Material Culture
Peer reviewer (BGC and University of Chicago Press, 2012-2013)

Century of the Child: Growing by Design, 1900-2000
Juliet Kinchin and Aidan O’Connor (MoMA 2012, 264 pages)
Contributed 18 essays: “Chicago: Progressive Era Laboratory”; “’A Setting for Childlife’: The New School in the United States”; “A New Deal for Youth; Processing Trauma”; “‘Developing Creativeness in Children’: Victor D’Amico at MoMA”; “Power Play”; “Space Wars”; “Pop and Play”; “Italy: A New Domestic Landscape for Children”; “Retail Fantasies”; “Marketplace Modern”; “Pee-wee’s Playhouse”; “Designing Better Worlds”; “Every Child Should Have a Hundred Parents”; “Dismantling the Museum”; “Design for the Real World”; “Inclusive, Therapeutic, and Assistive Design for Children”; “Design and the Universal Child”; “The Playground Revolution”

Counter Space: Design and the Modern Kitchen
Juliet Kinchin with Aidan O’Connor (MoMA 2011, 80 pages)

Inside/Out, a MoMA/MoMA PS1 Blog
Contributed regular exhibition-related blog posts between 2010–12

Ron Arad: No Discipline
Paola Antonelli (MoMA 2009, 216 pages)
Contributed short, object-focused texts to accompany illustrations

A History of Modern Design from the Victorian Era to the Present, 2nd Edition
Ann Ferebee and Jeff Byles (W.W. Norton and Co. 2011, 208 pages)
Helped update the original 1970 design history textbook

Speaking + Programming

Speaker, Chicago Women in Architecture spring lecture w/ Docomomo (2019)

Speaker, “Wonderful Contradictions”: Chippendale Meets Postmodernism, The Met (2018)

Speaker, Sustainability in Nordic Design symposium, The Nordic House, Reykjavik (2017)

Co-organizer, AIGA National Design Conference (2016)

Co-organizer, Gender Equity in Design with Leyla Acaroglu workshop series, AIGA (2016)

Co-organizer, Tricentennial Kids Design Challenge with PlayBuild New Orleans (2015)

Moderator, On Being an Art Director with Ruth Ansel, Bard Graduate Center (2014)

Co-organizer, Women’s Leadership Symposium, AIGA Design and Business Conference (2014)

Co-organizer, 200 Years of Design: A Centennial Conversation, AIGA Design Conference (2013) 

Panelist, House/Wife: The Feminine Mystique at Home, Parsons (2013)

Panelist, The Enduring Impact of Mid-Century Design, AIA NY Interiors / Knoll Studio (2012)

Chase Scholars lecturer, Century of the Child: Thoughts on an Exhibition, Parsons (2012)

Co-organizer and moderator, Playing with Modernism symposium, Bard Graduate Center (2012)

Co-organizer, The Child in the City of Play symposium, MoMA (2012)

Panelist, Rooms for the Younger Generation, New York School of Interior Design (2012)

Co-organizer and host, Back to School: A Taste of Finland public program, MoMA (2012)

Speaker, Museums & Cultivating a Taste for Modernism session, CAA Conference (2011)

Speaker, Counter Space: Design and the Modern Kitchen lunchtime lecture, MoMA (2010)

Co-organizer, What’s Alt Is Neu: The New Typography public program, MoMA (2010)

Co-organizer, Kitchen Culture public program, MoMA (2010)


New York Cares

Bronx Community College
Digital Arts Advisory Council, 2016–2017

New York State Council on the Arts
Architecture and Design Grants Panel, 2016–2018