Mitchell Owens to Speak at New York School of Interior Design 2017 Commencement Ceremony

Mitchell Owens, Leta Austin Foster, Peter Pennoyer, and Katie Ridder to Receive Honorary Doctorate Degrees

New York, NY – April 27, 2017 – New York School of Interior Design (NYSID) is pleased to announce that Mitchell Owens, decorative arts editor at Architectural Digest, will be the keynote speaker at the College’s 2017 commencement ceremony, which will take place on Thursday, May 25, 11am at the NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, in New York City. NYSID is proud to present 133 candidates for graduation this year across the following programs: Bachelor of Fine Arts, Bachelor of Arts, Master of Fine Arts, Master of Professional Studies, and Associate in Applied Science.

Owens will receive the College’s Honorary Doctorate degree, along with interior designer Leta Austin Foster, architect Peter Pennoyer, and interior designer Katie Ridder.

“Mitch Owens is a talented writer and gifted speaker on the topic of design and I could not be more pleased that he will be giving our 2017 commencement address,” said NYSID President David Sprouls. “His scholarly insight into the effect that design has on our daily lives and its ability to impact society makes him an ideal choice to inspire our latest graduating class as they begin their careers.”

Keynote Speaker and Honoree: Mitchell Owens
Editor, reporter, curator, and scholar of subjects ranging from architecture and design to social history and popular culture, Mitchell Owens has been the decorative arts editor at Architectural Digest (AD) since 2013.

Owens began his journalism career in the early 1980s, when he became the theatre reviewer for The Dallas Observer and senior editor at Dallas-Ft. Worth Home & Garden. In 1989 he moved to New York City to become the articles editor of ELLE DÉCOR, where he would eventually fill the positions of interior design director (2000-2003), executive editor (2006-2009), and editor at large (2009-2010). Owens was the senior writer at American HomeStyle(1992-1993), and later the senior interior design editor of Traditional Home (2005-2006). Owens also served as a contributing writer at AD (1998-2000), and as special projects editor (2010-2013). For several years Owens was a contributing writer at Nest, the cult shelter magazine, under editor in chief Joseph Holtzman. He also wrote, produced, and edited articles for The New York Times, as well as numerous other publications including T: The New York Times Style MagazineTravel + Leisure, House Beautiful, The World of Interiors, Martha Stewart Living, and OUT, of which he was a founding editor.

From 2009-2012 Owens was the voice of the style blog “An Aesthete’s Lament,” and has been an on-air personality in Smithsonian Channel’s “Million Dollar American Princesses” and Jake Gorst’s forthcoming documentary “Corsi: The World’s First Super Model.” In 2004 he was part of a team of Travel + Leisure writers that received a gold medal in the Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Competition of the Society of American Travel Writers Foundation (SATW), and in 2006, he was awarded a gold medal for travel journalism at the first annual Destino Madrid awards sponsored by Fundacíon Destino Madrid.

In 2003 Owens was a curator of Inside Design Now: The National Design Triennal at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum and contributed more than 20 essays for the exhibition’s catalogue, which was published by Princeton Architectural Press. He has edited two books for Acanthus Press, Elsie de Wolfe: The Birth of Modern Decoration, which was named one of the five best design books of 2005 by The Sunday Times (London), and Jansen, which was published in 2006. He has also has authored several books, including Charlotte Moss DecoratesIn House, and his upcoming book, Fabulous: The Dazzling Interiors of Tom Britt, which will be published by Rizzoli in late 2017.

Honoree: Leta Austin Foster
Leta Austin Foster began her interior design firm, Leta Austin Foster & Associates, Inc. in Palm Beach, Florida forty years ago with several key principles that she has kept in mind on every project. Each design is inspired by the architecture, location and clients and keeps with the mantra of “never do the same job twice.” Each of her three daughters followed in her footsteps as interior designers: Sallie now runs the New York office and India runs the Palm Beach office.

Leta has designed projects across the United States and Caribbean that range from contemporary to landmark preservation and, as such, has established herself as a leading talent in the interior design world. Twenty years ago, in order to finish her projects down to the last detail, Leta opened the Leta Austin Foster Boutique. With linens, china, accessories, stationary, and beautifully detailed children’s clothes from the finest sources in Europe and the United States, the store has become a Palm Beach institution.

Leta has been chosen by House & Garden as one of America’s Greatest Interior Decorators and by House Beautifulas one of America’s most trailblazing designers. She has contributed design advice to Elle Décor, Traditional Home, Veranda and House Beautiful. Her work has beenpublished in several books and all major design magazines and was commemorated in the book, Traditional Interiors: Leta Austin Foster, India Foster and Sallie Giordano, by Brian Coleman (Gibbs-Smith, 2015).

Honoree: Peter Pennoyer
Peter Pennoyer, FAIA, is the principal partner of Peter Pennoyer Architects, a New York-based, 60-member firm with commissions worldwide. He has made the study of history a generating force in his work and believes that by mastering the interpretation of architectural history, he and his colleagues design projects that are both modern and classical. With current projects from Hong Kong to Florida to New York’s Upper East Side the Pennoyer practice is extending its reach and range to include institutional and commercial buildings.

Peter has co-authored five books on American architectural history and is an adjunct professor in the Architecture and Urban Studies Program at New York University. He uses his scholarship and knowledge of New York City to advocate for positions and designs he feels reflect the values of his firm. He actively participates in the civic dialogue among neighborhood groups, professionals, and government agencies, and takes positions for architecture that is contextual and respectful to the fabric of the city.

Peter is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects and is on Architectural Digest’s AD100 list of top architects and designers. He is the President of the Whiting Foundation, a board member of The Morgan Library & Museum, a national peer reviewer for the General Services Administration, and is the chairman of the Fellowship Committee of the Sir John Soane’s Museum Foundation. Peter was elected to the General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen in 2016 and his recent awards include the 2017 Albert Simons Medal of Excellence from the College of Charleston and the 2017 Arthur Ross Award for architecture.

Honoree: Katie Ridder
Katie Ridder’s extraordinary dexterity with palettes of primary and secondary colors, her playful approach to mixing antiques and modern pieces, and her eye for unusual decorative accents have all established her as a leading, and singular, figure in the world of interior design.

Clients from Switzerland to Virginia have commissioned her to design the interiors of spaces as varied and unique as Japanese pavilions, Palm Beach estates, and Park Avenue apartments. Katie has expanded her reach by creating a wallpaper and fabric line, represented at Holland & Sherry showrooms.

Ridder’s work has been published in many leading publications, as well as in her own books. Katie’s first book, Rooms, was published by Vendome Press in 2011 and is in its third printing, while A House in the Country—Ridder’s second book, co-authored with her husband, architect Peter Pennoyer--has graced three Amazon best-sellers lists.


About New York School of Interior Design
Ranked the #1 interior design school in the United States by DesignIntelligence, the New York School of Interior Design is a private, nonprofit college focused exclusively on interior design. The college offers certificate, undergraduate, and graduate programs for students at all stages of their careers—whether they’re just becoming familiar with the discipline, considering a career change, or looking to deepen knowledge in a particular area. We have more than 600 students studying residential and commercial interior design, with specialties in sustainable design, lighting, and healthcare interiors. Because of our small class size and sharp focus, our students receive a great deal of personal attention from our dedicated faculty, and they go on to practice at the highest levels of the profession.

To learn more, visit our website at

This is a private event. For press seats, contact or call 212-472-1500, ext. 432.