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

e.

designresearch@sva.edu

t.

@dcrit

p.

(212) 592-2228

Summer Intensive – SVA MA Design Research

About

June 1–12, 2015

School of Visual Arts,
New York City

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. Participants will be introduced to a range of techniques for constructing compelling narratives about images, objects, and spaces. You will experiment with different research methods, writing formats, and complete several projects across media, including a collaboratively produced publication.

In addition to the unique opportunity to study closely with leading writers, editors, curators, and researchers, each participant will have a workstation in the light-filled, open-plan SVA MA Design Research studio in New York’s Chelsea district, and 24-hour access to department resources. A robust daily schedule of seminars, lectures, workshops, and one-on-one consultations, will be supplemented with visits to the city’s design collections, archives, libraries, design and architecture studios, and behind-the-scenes access to new exhibitions, buildings, and urban planning developments.

Apply today, as spaces fill up fast!

Instructors: Steven Heller, Karrie Jacobs, Neil Donnelly, Jennifer Kabat, Adam Harrison Levy, Robin Pogrebin, Alice Twemlow, Rob Walker, Mimi Zeiger.

Typical studio visits: Lindsey Adelman, Alfalfa Studio, The Office for Creative Research, Eight and a Half, Carla Diana Design, NYC Department of Design and Construction, Project No. 8, Biber Architects, Randy Hunt/Etsy, Antenna Design, frog, karlssonwilker, Maharam, Pentagram, Mary Ping, Sagmeister & Walsh, Snarkitecture, Streng, David Weeks Studio, Carin Goldberg Design.

Typical site visits and curator-led exhibition tours: International Center of Photography Print & Study Room, Van Alen Institute with David van der Leer, Newark Waterfront with Damon Rich, Museum of Art & Design with Lowery Stokes Sims, Museum of the City of New York with Donald Albrecht, Governors Island with Ellen Lupton, Fulton Mall with Interboro Partners, Zuccotti Park with Quillian Riano.

Photos: Photos from last year’s Intensive are available here.

Curriculum

Project 1: Narrative Strategies for Objects, instructed by Rob Walker and Adam Harrison Levy

Rob Walker will lecture on how to develop narratives around objects. Participants will engage in close observation, archive research, and other means of data gathering, and then experiment with strategies to illuminate an object’s significance through storytelling.

Typical assignments: Bring in an object that has some kind of personal significance to you, and is transportable. Write a 300–500 word story about the object. Next find an object that you consider to be overlooked or undervalued and write a 500-word story about it, based on research, which brings it to life.

Adam Harrison Levy will lecture on research methods, with a focus on photographic images. Students will engage in close observation, archive research, and other means of data gathering, and then experiment with strategies to illuminate an image’s significance through storytelling.

Typical assignment: Write a 500-word essay about a photograph by Weegee using material drawn from the Picture Collection at the New York Public Library and the main branch of the New York Public Library, including The Milstein Division for Genealogy and Local History, The Map Division, The General Research Division and the Art+Architecture Divisions.

Project 2: Studio Profiles, instructed by Adam Harrison Levy and Jennifer Kabat

This project launches with lectures on Interviewing Skills and Profile Writing. Participants will then perform exercises to develop their interviewing techniques, prepare questions, and do background research, before dividing into groups to visit several well-known New York design studios. Each student will interview the principal designer of their designated studio and write a studio profile for critique in a review session.

Typical design studio visits: Eight and a Half, Carla Diana Design, NYC Department of Design and Construction, Project No. 8, Randy Hunt/Etsy, Antenna Design, frog, karlssonwilker, Maharam, Pentagram, Mary Ping, Sagmeister & Walsh, Snarkitecture, Streng, David Weeks.

Typical assignment: Read up on the designer you will be visiting for a studio visit and prepare a list of questions for your interview based on an assigned aspect of your profile (i.e. biography, studio philosophy, or working practice). These questions will be workshopped with course instructors. After the interview is completed and transcribed, write a 600-word profile of your subject.

Project 3: Exhibition Reviews

Participants will be introduced to the principles of reviewing across genres and across media, with a focus on the exhibition review as a type. After some initial exercises to hone writing skills, the development of a point of view and argument, and some reading exercises to examine exemplars of the form, participants will write their own reviews and present them for critique.

Typical assignment: Write a 500-word review of a design- or architecture-related exhibition currently on view in NYC.

Typical guests: Roberta Smith, art critic, The New York Times, Michael Kimmelman, senior critic, The New York Times.

Project 4: Platform Project, instructed by Mimi Zeiger

The Platform Project is a two-week long assignment that culminates in the making of a collaborative publication built from tweets. In the first session, the lecture will focus on alternative design writing platforms—including Twitter, Tumblr, and downloadable PDFs—that offer opportunities for design narratives and criticism. By bridging between print and digital, Platform Project embraces the technologies of the social web without abandoning the potential of the physical object. This class considers a “platform” both a means of production and a place to take a stand.

Typical assignments: Visit your assigned contested site in NYC area. Use Twitter to document the conditions on the ground. What do you see? Write as many tweets as you need, minimum ten. Follow the tweets of your fellow group members and respond. Research the articles that represent the debate, document the history, and spell out the issues at state in your assigned site of architectural controversy. Use Twitter to share this research via links, quotes, and commentary, and see if you can make a dialogue happen.

Typical guests: Stephen Zachs, architecture and urbanism reporter, theorist, and cultural producer; Jean Cooney, Project Manager, Creative Time, Damon Rich, Planning Director and Chief Urban Designer for the City of Newark, New Jersey.

Sample Timetable

Week 1

  • M

    Session 1

    Alice Twemlow: Introduction of Intensive projects

  •  

    Session 2

    Rob Walker: Writing Stories about Objects

  •  

    Session 3

    Rob Walker and Alice Twemlow: Object Story Critique

  •  

    Session 4

    Walk down Broadway with Rob Walker; Welcome Drinks at the Ace Hotel

  • Tu

    Session 1

    Mimi Zeiger and Neil Donnelly: Platform Project Orientation, Twitter Fundamentals, Alternative Design Writing Platforms

  •  

    Session 2

    Curator exhibition tour: Kara Walker’s Creative Time project at Domino Sugar Factory

  •  

    Session 3

    Platform Project site visits: Domino Sugar Factory, Penn Station, MoMA/Folk Art Museum, New York State Pavilion

  • W

    Session 1

    Adam Harrison Levy: Presentation on: The Art of The Interview

  •  

    Session 2

    Jennifer Kabat: Presentation on: Reporting and Writing Design Studio Profiles

  •  

    Session 3

    Research Workshop for Design Studio Profiles

  • Th

    Session 1

    Adam Harrison Levy: Introduction to Image Research

  •  

    Session 2

    Visit to New York Public Library Art and Picture Collections: Introduction by Managing Librarian

  •  

    Session 3

    Research Weegee Photograph: Library Archives

  • F

    Session 1

    Studio Visits

  •  

    Session 2

    Studio Visits

  •  

    Session 3

    Studio Visits

Week 2

  • M

    Session 1

    Robin Pogrebin: Presentation on: How to Write an Exhibition Review, Special Guest Roberta Smith

  •  

    Session 2

    Studio Visits

  •  

    Session 3

    Alice Twemlow and Rob Walker: Narrative Strategies for Objects Project Critique

  • Tu

    Session 1

    Karrie Jacobs: Presentation on: Truth and Urban Design

  •  

    Session 2

    Truth and Urban Design Site Visits

  •  

    Session 3

    Karrie Jacobs: Present Beauty Presentations

  • W

    Session 1

    Neil Donnelly and Mimi Zeiger: Platform Project

  •  

    Session 2

    Robin Pogrebin: Exhibition Reviews Critique

  •  

    Session 3

    Jennifer Kabat and Adam Harrison Levy: Studio Profiles Critique

  • Th

    Session 1

    Adam Harrison Levy, Steven Heller, Alice Twemlow: Narrative Strategies for Image Project Critique

  •  

    Session 2

    Steven Heller: Mmuseumm visit with Alex Kalman

  •  

    Session 3

    Neil Donnelly and Mimi Zeiger: Platform Project

  • F

    Session 1

    Final Presentations

  •  

    Session 2

    Pitching Workshop

  •  

    Session 3

    Reception for Launch of Platform Publication

Instructors

Testimonials

  • “There were concrete lessons, strong criticism, and tools to take away, but the best thing about the intensive was the relationships forged with fellow students and instructors.”
  • “The Intensive has been a fantastic way of experiencing the city. It’s pretty mind-boggling looking back at all the fantastic people I have met and all the incredible places I have seen.”
  • “I learned something from everyone. Both instructors and classmates are vital to the education process and the bar was set by all participants.”
  • “I don’t think I’ve been involved in such a well-planned workshop before. The planning was clear and the pace was challenging without being overwhelming.”
  • “For me the openness was key: Not feeling afraid to share unfinished work.”
  • “Meeting professionals like Steven Heller and Debbie Millman, and visiting studios like Sagmeister & Walsh, were spectacular experiences. All of the program’s guests were relevant to what I want to do with my practice.”

Apply

Priority deadline is April 1, 2015.
Tuition is $2,250.

How to Apply

Email the following materials to residency@sva.edu:

  • Completed application form
  • Work sample (see guidelines below)
  • Statement of purpose (250–500 words)
  • CV

Work Sample Guidelines

Writing sample: Up to 2,000 words of published or unpublished writing (such as essays, blog posts, or articles) about design, architecture, or related subjects (.doc or .pdf file)

International Applicants

International applicants are welcome, however, the College cannot provide any I-20 or other forms to nonmatriculated students, so it is your responsibility to speak with your consulate to determine the proper means of traveling to the United States. SVA cannot provide you with a visa, nor assist you in obtaining one. Applicants are expected to have fluency in English sufficient for engaging in meaningful dialogue with other participants.

Refund Policy

There is a $500 cancellation fee for withdrawal in writing at least 2 weeks prior to the start of the program. There will be no refundsfor withdrawals requested less than 2 weeks prior to the start of the program.

To withdraw from the program you must notify the Assistant Director, Division of Continuing Education, in writing, of your intention to withdraw. You may do so: by e-mailing your withdrawal to kmoscovitch@sva.edu; or by sending written notification via mail or fax. The Division of Continuing education is located at 209 East 23rd Street. All refunds for payment made by American Express, Discover, MasterCard or Visa, will be credited to the appropriate credit card account. Payment made by check or money order will be refunded by check, payable to the registrant. Processing of refunds takes approximately four weeks.

Find further details about applications, enrollment, refunds, and housing here.