Aspiring designers apply from top colleges and universities around the country and world for the opportunity to intern in Walker Art Center's design office, founded by Mildred "Mickey" Friedman. The year-long internship, which is now accepting applicants, has been named the Mildred S. Friedman Design Fellowship after Friedman who headed the department from 1970 until her retirement in 1991.
Among her pioneering exhibitions were shows of furniture and designs by L.A. architect Frank Gehry (1986), the historic DeStijl movement (1986), and "Tokyo: Form and Spirit," an innovative 1989 exploration of Japanese culture that was co-organized with her husband Martin Friedman, then the museum's director.
Prior to joining the Walker, Mickey had worked as a designer for Minneapolis architect Robert Cerny. In consultation with architect Edward Larrabee Barnes she designed furniture for the museum's 1971 building, and then developed an expansive design program for the Walker. Throughout the 1970s and '80s she edited Design Quarterly, a quixotic and influential Walker publication that dealt with everything and anything design-related from Julia Child's kitchen to typography and the course of the Mississippi River.
In 1980 she established the Walker's design internship program whose participants engage in all aspects of museum work from designing brochures and publications to exhibitions and public spaces. Graduates of the program have gone on to work at Apple, Dwell, Nike and other firms and museums, to open their own studios, and to teach at colleges and universities around the country.