Alessandra Wood is a design historian. She splits her time teaching at the university level and sharing her love of design with the general public. Her passion for theory and style drives her to make design accessible to all. 


The University of Delaware, Newark, DE

PhD, History of American Civilization, 2016

Concentration: 20th-Century Design and Material Culture

Dissertation: Designed to Sell: The Evolution of Merchandising and Display in Mid-Twentieth-Century Department Stores


Parsons, The New School for Design/The Cooper-Hewitt Museum, New York, NY

Master of Arts, History of Decorative Arts and Design, December 2008  

Major field of study: Nineteenth-Century American Material Culture; Minor field of study: Twentieth-Century American Popular Culture


Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD

Bachelor of Arts, History of Art, 2006

Minor: History; Special Concentration: Museum Studies



Director of Style, ModsySan Francisco, CA

June 2015 - present

Building an in depth design taxonomy to support a style recommendation engine. 


Adjunct Professor, University of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA

August 2013 - present

Teaches History of Design: From the Early Modern to the Post Modern and Design + Social Change in the Department of Art + Design.


Senior Lecturer, California College of the Arts, San Francisco, CA

January 2014 - present

Teaches History of Interior Design in the Department of Architecture and Interior Design.


Design Blogger, The Huffington Post

December 2013 – Present

Writes a design blog on HuffPost Home focusing on interior design advice, history, and tips and tricks on interior decorating.


Design Historian, Tastemaker, San Francisco, CA 

March 2013 - August 2014

Key member of a team working to build a global style genome (think: Pandora for design). Direct the human intelligence side of this project which includes building a style taxonomy, curating the results database, and working closely with engineers to strengthen the search engine and user experience. Research and collect user feedback on the product via interviews and ethnographic observation. Distill findings into meaningful insights and share that data with the team to ensure a human-centric product that speaks to users needs and habits.

Manage visual and written editorial content for the company blog and Facebook to establish Tastemaker as a design authority. Starting with a blank slate, worked with the team and advisors to create a content strategy that developed and changed with the growing business.

Use SEO strategies to create content with a greater organic search potential to drive traffic to Tastemaker.

Publish five pieces of content a week that uphold Tastemaker brand with a consistent voice and visual appeal.

Create and manage content for marketing efforts including weekly newsletters, Before & After stories, and lead nurturing marketing campaigns.

Organize and foster the growth of Interior Design | SF, a Meetup group sponsored by Tastemaker.  Plan events with guest speakers and demonstrations every 4 -6 weeks, which have included guided tours of the Alameda Antiques Faire, tips on bachelor pad design, and how to design a startup office.


Public History Experience

Graduate Assistant, The Winterthur Museum, Winterthur, DE

September 2009-July, 2011

  • Research Assistant for Brock Jobe, Professor of American Decorative Arts. Researched topics in American furniture and material culture, prepared public presentations, assisted in creation of syllabi for graduate courses.

  • Editorial Assistant, Winterthur Portfolio. Assessed manuscripts, edited and prepared documents for publication, researched books and authors, checked facts, and communicated with authors and peer reviewers.


Collections Manager, The Barnum Museum, Bridgeport, CT

July 2008-July 2009

  • Led the collections team of volunteers and interns in an on-going project to asses the entire collection and ensure artifacts were properly identified, accessioned, catalogued, researched, and stored.

  • Worked within a budget to purchase computer equipment, camera, and software to develop and implement a digital collections database.

  • Worked with the Curator and Director of Education to plan, write, and install exhibitions and organize community programs.

  • Wrote interpretive object label copy and handouts for museum visitors.

  • Hired, trained, and supervised undergraduate and graduate-level interns.


Assistant Registrar of Collections, The Fairfield Museum and History Center, Fairfield, CT

May 2007-June 2008

  • Project, grant-funded position created to support the museum’s move into a new building and off-site storage center.

  • Packed, unpacked, handled, and moved museum objects in accordance with existing procedures.

  • Inventoried and researched objects, modified/added information to computer database in order to create a coherent narrative of each object.

  • Photographed artifacts for inclusion in digital database and press releases.

  • Assisted with all stages of exhibition preparation and installation.

  • Hired, trained, and supervised museum interns.


Graduate Fellow, The Cooper-Hewitt Museum, New York, NY

January 2007-May 2007

  • Graduate Fellow in Product Design and Decorative Arts Department.

  • Researched objects and themes for inclusion in upcoming exhibitions.


Public Lectures & Conferences

Modernization and the Model Room in Mid-Twentieth-Century Department Store Design,” Lecture, Department Stores and New York Fashion Symposium, Parsons, New York City, February 14, 2014.


Co-Chair, The Ninth Annual Material Culture Symposium for Emerging Scholars, co-sponsored by The University of Delaware and The Winterthur Museum, Winterthur, Delaware, April 16, 2011.


“Selling Taste: The Role of William Pahlmann in Merchandising 'Good Design,'” Lecture, The Mid-Atlantic Popular and American Culture Association Annual Conference, Alexandria, Virginia, October 29, 2010.


“Castles’ Shipbreaking Furniture for Winterthur,” Lecture, The Sewell C. Biggs Winterthur Furniture Forum, Winterthur Museum, Delaware, March 25-26, 2010.


“Hunting Masculinity: The Use of Animal Taxidermy in American Decorative Arts,” Lecture, The Mid-Atlantic Popular and American Culture Association Annual Conference, Boston, November 6, 2009.