SVA MA Design Research

SVA MA Design Research, Writing & Criticism1 is a one-year graduate program2
devoted to the study of design, its contexts & consequences.
Our graduates have gone on to pursue research-related careers in publishing, education, museums, institutes, design practice, entrepreneurship, & more.3

  1. Formerly known as D-Crit
  2. About the program
  3. Applications accepted on a rolling basis. All successful candidates awarded a significant scholarship!
SVA MA Design Research

136 W 21st St, 2nd Floor

New York, NY 10011





(212) 592-2228

SVA MA Design Research

Upcoming Events



BYOD: Bring Your Own Device

Mariam Aldhahi explains how airlines are cutting down on in-flight entertainment in favor of personal devices with the aid of trend forecasters like the Future Laboratory.



In Search of Provenance

Justin Zhuang explores the origins of design, from Pierre Jeanneret’s mid-century chairs to Thomas Thwaites’ Toaster built from scratch.



Open House

Considering pursuing graduate study in design research? Passionate about storytelling in multiple media? Interested in the contexts and consequences of design?

You’ll want to join us on Tuesday, October 21 for and evening of insights and information about the new one-year  SVA MA in Design Research. Program faculty, students, and alumni will talk about the ways they use critical research techniques in their work, and about the value of research in design practice, curation, education, and publishing.

“Both Rosenbaum’s affable, burly, tattooed persona and his sensual, maximalist vocabulary speak to a broad spectrum of Brazilians—from ladies who lunch and shop on Óscar Freire, São Paulo’s most expensive street, to the masses who watch him on TV. In eclectic, vibrant mash-ups of color, texture and materials, he takes the glamour of fashion to the masses and brings the inventiveness and complexity of Brazilian popular culture to the elite. Lowbrow regional folk art and craft elements are thrown together with highbrow design references in such disparate things as a six-reais vinyl table-cloth, a Vogue magazine editorial, or celebrity chef Alex Attala’s Dalva e Dito restaurant.”

—Frederico Duarte

“Judd’s home has become as stoic and sanitized as his work.”

—Meg Farmer


“When a hermit crab that has grown too large for its current home locates a new one, it determines the structure’s suitability via a process called fondling. During this activity, the hermit crab will explore the shell’s surface and its internal volume-to-weight ratio by rolling the shell over and gently rocking it back and forth.”

—Elizabeth Demaray

“This was a very different kind of shopping for me, and I have to say I was enjoying it. It had a raw, life-or-death edge to it that I rarely experience, even at sales. What I was putting together, to borrow Le Corbusier’s phrase, was a machine for living. And not just living in some milk-fed suburban idyll, but living in a particularly rugged swatch of twenty-first century ecosystem on the brink of catastrophic collapse.” —David Womack

“At the first sight of MDRS, the dissonance between the white dot of the habitat on the red and brown field of the desert is profound. For a while I’m transfixed at the image of a capsule that seems to have fallen out of the sky.”

—Mike Neal

“Location, architectural style, and decoration make a language—one Wharton could read and write fluently.”

—Alexandra Lange

“The irony doesn’t escape me. I had sacrificed my own home to launch a magazine that was all about other people’s homes.”

—Karrie Jacobs

“By pointing to things my respondents had deemed meaningful enough to dwell with, I was often able to make them reconsider the import and strangeness of their everyday domestic surroundings.”

—Katya Mezhibovskaya




Watch videos of recent lectures by Peter Bil’ak, founder of Works that Work, Ellen Lupton, curator at Cooper Hewitt Design Museum, Rick Poynor, British design critic, Robert Krulwich, co-host of WNYC’s “Radiolab”, Vishaan Chakrabarti, principal at SHoP Architects, John Warner, editor of McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Virginia Postrel, author and columnist, Kurt Andersen, author and host of WNYC’s “Studio 360″, and Vince Aletti, photography critic for The New Yorker.


Excerpt, Resource


Robinson Crusoe

Robinson Crusoe sets up his new home in a cave on a desert island and finds that by means of a chair and table, some shelves and hooks his situation looks a lot brighter.

“I’m from where beef is inevitable, summertime’s unforgettable boosters in abundance, buy a half-price sweater new.”

—Jay Z, “Where I’m From”

“For me, the bedroom was never a shelter for self-preservation. It was a room full of possibilities, where I wandered on a journey of self-discovery through the ritual of arrangements.”

—Justin Zhuang




Get There with Design Research

Faculty, students, and alums of the department recount their love affairs with Design Research (as well as performing holograms, flying green tree snakes and 51-hour journeys to South Sudan) while they share with us how they teach it, study it, and practice it in their daily work.



Summer Intensive

10 days, 21 participants, 500+ tweets, 9 design studios, 7 projects, and 1 collaborative publication. Check out the SVA Design Research & Writing Summer Intensive.



Summer Intensive Dispatches: #platform2013

A platform implies both the tool as well as the message. Twitter, as a platform, is a space to shout, inquire, move, and capture our thoughts momentarily in a stream of narratives, conversations, observations, and critiques. Over two weeks, in and around New York City, the words arrived and departed, resulting in a shared stream […]



(212) 431-6189

Meg Farmer finds human traces of Donald Judd all but erased in the renovation (and museumification) of his house at 101 Spring Street, New York.



Arranging a Room Full of Possibilities

Sleeping on a tatami mattress, which could be endlessly repositioned, allowed Justin Zhuang to turn his childhood bedroom into a space of possibilities.

Lecture, Video


Private Lives in the Big City

The New York Times columnist Constance Rosenblum explores the distinctive habitats of New Yorkers.



Edith Wharton’s Houses

Architecture critic Alexandra Lange extolls on Edith Wharton’s fluency as a decorator and architect of the domestic milieu

Audio, Thesis Research


Public Housing Playlist

After researching the roles of policy and design in the failures of public housing, Erin Routson compiled a hip-hop playlist/audio tour guide which reframes New York’s most notorious housing projects as sites of creative production.



Rockwood Revisited

Zachary Sachs conjures a (fateful) day in the life of his childhood home on Rockwood Street, Dallas.



Blue Walls

Metropolis magazine associate editor Avinash Rajagopal on the most comforting shade of pastel blue known to mankind.

Excerpt, Thesis Research


Alvorada: How Social Change is Shaping Brazilian Design and Creating Brazil’s Own Design Model

On a research trip to Brazil, Frederico Duarte discovers that Marcel Rosenblum, with his massively popular “Lar Doce Lar” (Home Sweet Home) TV show, a local “Extreme Makeover” in which he and host Luciano Huck go around the country redecorating—and often rebuilding—poor families’ homes, exerts a more real and powerful influence on Brazilian culture than such celebrated design exports as the Campana brothers.

Excerpt, Thesis Research


Tabula Rubra: Critical Reflections on the Design of Mars

Crew journalist Mike Neal arrives at his home for the next two weeks—the Mars Desert Research Station Habitat in the Utah desert—and confronts the architecture of desolation he finds there.

Excerpt, Resource



Hallucinating, in death throes from cancer and kidney failure, an old man sees the walls around him begin to collapse, as he returns in his mind to his impoverished childhood in the backwoods of Maine.



An Uphill Struggle

R/GA Executive Creative Director David Womack weighs up survival versus comfort as he assembles a home-away-from-home in his backpack.

Excerpt, Resource


In Praise of Shadows

Author Jun’ichirō Tanizaki expounds on the importance of darkness in Japanese interiors in adding texture, depth, and subtle beauty to the life within.