Freya Block (M.S. Environmental Design '77)
Interior designer Freya Block (M.S. Environmental Design ’77) recalls the moment she decided to enroll at Pratt.
It was the 1970s and Block had recently moved with her family to Park Slope, Brooklyn—then a neighborhood in transition. She recalls driving past the nearby Brooklyn Academy of Music.
“I’d see these kids on the curb, and the whole area seemed not well-cared for, and depressing, and I thought ‘I want to do something about improving the environment.’ When I started looking into graduate schools, Pratt was the only one with ‘environmental’ in the program title.”
Pratt had recently changed the name of its Interior Design department to the Environmental Design department. This reflected a wider trend in interior design education aimed at preparing students to design spaces with society and the greater community in mind.
Having studied English literature and worked as a potter for more than a decade, Block found the initial year at Pratt to be a challenge. Still, she says: "The teachers were terrific and the students were terrific. It was all very stimulating."
“You are an observer of people’s relationships and you develop your own relationships with your clients.”
Among Block’s clients are Terry and Joel Cohen, for whom she has renovated two apartments.
“Freya helped us define and then refine our vision for each of our homes,” says Terry Cohen. “This can be especially challenging because my husband and I often have diametrically opposed ideas of what that vision should be! Still, Freya navigated us through our renovations with patience, professionalism, and good humor. The end result has been even better than what we could have imagined.”
Block credits Pratt with providing her with the foundation to master the art of translating ideas into environments.
“A good designer starts by listening, and when you hear what a client needs—you translate what they tell you, and in a sense you’re a catalyst for making these wishes come true. Pratt gave me the skills to do this.”
Text: Abigail Beshkin
Photo: Jonathan Weitz