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

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

—Meg Farmer


“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

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.

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.

“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



Blue Walls

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

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.

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.



Rockwood Revisited

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



(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.



Edith Wharton’s Houses

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

“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

“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

“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

Lecture, Video


Private Lives in the Big City

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



Check out our curriculum.

We’d love to show you around the department, and talk to you about your plans for graduate study. Get in touch to arrange an appointment to sit in on a class or attend a lecture.



Summer Intensive

Join us this summer in the School of Visual Arts MA Design Research studio for a two-week intensive devoted to research and writing about design. Apply today, as spaces fill up fast!




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.


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