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


[email protected]




(212) 592-2228

History of Design, Architecture & Urban Issues – SVA MA Design Research

History of Design, Architecture & Urban Issues

This course aims to equip students with a working knowledge of design and its discourses during the modern era, from 1650 to the present. It is not a survey; rather, the course is framed as a series of encounters with the history of design, encounters that, taken together, will serve as a suitable foundation both for engaging in design debates and for researching particular topics in depth. Furthermore, while architecture, urban design, and the design of objects are often studied separately—partitioned according to contemporary disciplinary boundaries—in fact, the three fields have historically been conjoined in their operations and their discourses, and, accordingly, this course will treat them together.

The course begins with analysis of design and its discourses during The Enlightenment, followed by the profound impact of the industrial revolution on cities, buildings, and objects. Then students will engage Modernism and its legacy, both in hegemonic and in alternate, less-enfranchised manifestations. These historical wayposts will be considered through the traces of particular designs, including not only things that were constructed and manufactured, but also drawings and other images, as well as written texts that have engaged, provoked, prescribed, or proscribed the designs. In turn, these historical artifacts and the arenas in which they were produced will be filtered through a series of interpretive models, including Foucaultian analysis, orientalist critique, gender and queer theory, nationalist and subaltern criticisms, and other methods of analysis essential to contemporary understandings of the history of design.