©Winnie Westergard

©Winnie Westergard

Natalia Ilyin

Natalia Ilyin is a full professor of Design at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle. She teaches design history and criticism, design for social activism, apparel design, apparel design history, and wearable tech interface design there. In 2012--and again in 2015-- she earned Cornish's Award for Teaching Excellence. She and her co-teacher, Elisabeth Patterson, have created a publishing program at Cornish that is dedicated to making design history inclusive.

Natalia is also Founding and Core Faculty for the MFA in Graphic Design at Vermont College of Fine Arts. There, she advises grad students on writing, design history and critical and contextual studies. 

Natalia has taught at Rhode Island School of Design, Yale University, Cooper Union and the University of Washington, and has acted as Critic for the MFA in Graphic Design at Yale University and at Rhode Island School of Design.

When not teaching, Natalia consults on semiotic analysis for innovations groups and nonprofit clients, and is the co-director of a refugee-relief micro-grant program centered on the people living on the Thai/Burmese border. She is particularly interested in how wearable tech innovation can contribute to refugee and migrant humanitarian aid relief efforts.

She has worked as an apparel designer, graphic designer, art director, creative director and as National Director of Programs for the American Institute of Graphic Arts in New York, and has lectured and given workshops at Seattle's  PechaKucha 20x20, Microsoft, Boeing, Rhode Island School of Design, Maine College of Art, California College of Art, Art Center College of Design's Toyota lecture series, the Wolfsonian Museum, The Henry Art Gallery, and at many other very nice places. Natalia is a member of the Authors Guild, The American Semiotic Society, and The Design History Society.

Her articles have been published in the New York Times, the International Herald Tribune, the Portland Oregonian, the Miami Herald, Metropolis, STEP, Adbusters, Eye, Communication Arts, 2+3D, and in several anthologies of design criticism.

Her first memoir, Blonde Like Me, was published by Simon and Schuster. Just starting out as a writer, Natalia became so worried about future criticism that she became a frozen ball of anxiety while finishing it. Her agent finally walked down to her apartment and took the manuscript from her cramped hand. This to say, don't give up on yourself. Finish your book!

When she moved to a cottage near Seattle, Natalia looked back at her time in the East, and wrote Chasing the Perfect: Thoughts on Modernist Design in Our Time. Published by Metropolis Books, it's a personal look at the philosophy of modernism and its effect on life in our era. 

Her third book, Writing for the Design Mind, has benefitted from her years of experience as a writer and teacher. It's due out in Fall 2018 from Bloomsbury Academic.