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.

[email protected]

t.

@dcrit

p.

(212) 592-2228

Summer Intensive – SVA MA Design Research

About

June 5–16, 2017

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.

Applications being accepted as space available; final enrollment deadline May 4.

Apply now 

Instructors: Adam Harrison Levy, Molly Heintz, Virginia Heffernan, Steven Heller, Karrie Jacobs, Jennifer Kabat, Robin Pogrebin, Craig Taylor, Rob Walker.

Typical studio visits include: Andy Bernheimer Architecture, BIG, Flavor Paper, Met Media Lab, Abbott Miller at Pentagram, MOS, Rockwell Group Lab, Michael Sorkin Studio, Gael Towey, Viñoly Architects.

Typical site visits and curator-led exhibition tours: Brooklyn Historical Society Library, 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, 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

Rob Walker will lecture on how to develop narratives around objects. Students 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.

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: Andy Bernheimer Architecture, BIG, Flavor Paper, Met Media Lab, Abbott Miller at Pentagram, MOS, Rockwell Group Lab, Michael Sorkin Studio, Gael Towey, Viñoly Architects.

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 500-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

Project 4: Writing About Digital Artifacts, instructed by Virginia Heffernan

Virginia Heffernan will lecture on how to write about digital artifacts, including Instagram filters, tweets, Google Maps, Pinterest boards, Spotify playlists, Facebook posts, YouTube videos, and just about anything else made of bytes and pixels.

Students will learn a theoretical groundwork for writing about the Internet; how to summon extra-linguistic artifacts in language; techniques for close but detached readings of individual artifacts; the role of a critic’s existing online avatar in developing her authentic and authoritative critical voice; and the challenge, in turbulent times, of handling digital objects, some of which are culturally radioactive.

Typical assignment: Students identify an artifact of their choosing and write a 300 word essay essay that puts that artifact into context of (1) the network it rides (2) the cultural and digital ecosystem it lives in and (3) the Internet itself. For those less digitally inclined, these artifacts can even illuminate the non-digital world. What is it like to be non-digital, undigitizable? The augmented-reality figures in Pokemon Go illuminate the natural and built world on which they are juxtaposed. The corrosion of a wet phone ties the virtual dance on its screen to materials that can rust and decay.

Project 5: Speaking of the Streets, instructed by Craig Taylor

The Speaking of the Streets Project is a two‐week‐long assignment that culminates in the production of a play built from the scenes and scraps of dialogue collected by students. The project will focus on both monologues and duologues. The study of dialogue will be both a training exercise to sharpen skills of observation and will become a work of collaborative art. The project will allow us to express, in a kaleidoscopic view, the array of New York voices. It will combine fiction and non‐fiction. We will look at neighborhoods in transition—specifically how issues such as gentrification are played out in small ways and how they leave their mark on our conversations, interactions and language.

Typical assignment: Go visit Fort Greene in Brooklyn. Listen to people in different settings. Note what conversations are happening and also the conversation that might be happening. Research the past voices of the neighborhood. What was it? What is it becoming? Use primary documents. Create a collection of voices drawn from quotes in news stories, community meeting minutes, books on the neighborhoods. How do people speak about these streets? How have those voices changed over time? Is there an official voice describing the neighborhood— a political voice, a voice from a community board? Is there an unofficial voice? An artist, a dissident, a poet?

 

Project 6: Complexity and Contradiction in Times Square, instructed by Karrie Jacobs

While design criticism is often directed at museum exhibitions, or pre-selected examples of significant design, and architecture critics tend to focus their efforts on showcase examples of buildings by well-known architects, the true range of the design critic is the entire manmade world. Any object, whether or not it has a designer pedigree, can be a worthy subject of criticism. We will take a trip to the Times Square Area looking at the layers of architectural and urban planning history, and from the bleachers of the TKTS booth, we will discuss complexity and contradiction in architecture in relation to Times Square and other aspects of contemporary NYC.

Typical assignment: Visit Times Square and meet as a group on the Red Steps. Break into teams and choose one building or structure in Times Square and analyze it as Robert Venturi might.

 

Sample Timetable

Week 1

  • M

    Session 1

    Molly Heintz: Introduction of Intensive projects

  •  

    Session 2

    Rob Walker: Narrative Strategies for Objects pt. 1

  •  

    Session 3

    Rob Walker: Narrative Strategies for Objects pt. 2

  •  

    Session 4

    Welcome Drinks

  • Tu

    Session 1

    Adam Harrison Levy: The Art of the Interview pt. 1

  •  

    Session 2

    Lunchtime roundtable with Steve Heller

  •  

    Session 3

    Karrie Jacobs: Complexity and Contradiction in the City pt. 1 (Times Square visit)

  • W

    Session 1

    Robin Pogrebin: How to Write and Exhibition Review

  •  

    Session 2

    Karrie Jacobs: Complexity and Contradiction in the City pt. 2 (Park Avenue Armory visit)

  • Th

    Session 1

    Jennifer Kabat: The Personal Essay pt. 1

  • F

    Session 1

    Adam Harrison Levy: The Art of the Interview pt. 2

  •  

    Session 2

    Studio Visits

  •  

    Session 3

    Studio Visits

  • F

    Session 1

    Adam Harrison Levy: The Art of the Interview pt. 2

  •  

    Session 2

    Studio Visits

  • S

    Session 1

    Craig Taylor: Speaking of the Streets pt. 1

Week 2

  • M

    Session 1

    Karrie Jacobs: Complexity and Contradiction in the City pt. 3

  • Tu

    Session 1

    Robin Pogrebin: How to Write and Exhibition Review pt. 2

  •  

    Session 2

    Molly Heintz, David Knowles: Media Workshop

  • W

    Session 1

    Craig Taylor: Speaking of the Streets pt. 2

  •  

    Session 2

    Rob Walker: Narrative Strategies for Objects pt. 2

  • Th

    Session 1

    Adam Harrison Levy: The Art of the Interview pt. 2

  •  

    Session 2

    Jennifer Kabat: The Personal Essay pt. 2

  • F

    Session 1

    Virginia Heffernan: Writing About Digital Artifacts pt. 2

  •  

    Session 2

    Molly Heintz, David Knowles: Media Workshop pt. 2 (Publication distribution)

  •  

    Session 3

    Staging of Speaking of the Streets Play (Guest actors)

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

Applications being accepted as space available; final enrollment deadline May 4.
Tuition is $2,250.

How to Apply

There are two ways to apply. Choose one of the two options.

Option 1:

Complete your application using our online form

Option 2:

Email the following materials to [email protected]:

  • 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 [email protected]; 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.