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

Research – SVA MA Design Research



Kung Fu Fighting

Upon reading the title of Hybrid Cultures, I recall the bizarre situation that created Carl Douglas’ classic song, Kung Fu Fighting. When we talk about appropriation of culture in a modern sense, we don’t think about it in relation to hybrid culture. Maybe it’s my liberal mentality, but this Kung Fu Fighting seems to exist […]


traditional healing

Canclini’s cultural study focuses on folk arts’ production within transnational markets. The swirling relations between local and global, tradition and tourism, focuses mostly on craft and song. I was thinking if the analysis could stretch to cover traditional medicine. Immediately the term is problematic. What if the tradition is not your own, but you are open and […]



    I am new to “cultural theory.” (I’ve used quotes here, because I have an inkling that cultural theory is both a very real thing and a completely made up thing. “Thing,” of course, in not the correct word. Are “construct,” “discipline,” or “discourse” the correct word?)   One of the moments that I […]


Disjuncture and Imagination

Late on Tuesday night, as a heavy fog of disbelief was rolling in, a presidential historian was interviewed on MSNBC and asked whether there were any former presidents to whom this electee could be compared. She said no, there weren’t, but she did think that this election fed on fear and anxiety comparable to the […]


Speech Deceives, But Walking Does Not

  Michel de Certeau compare the act of pedestrian walking to that of talking and speech. While thoroughly analyze and study the common characteristics that both talking and walking shares (appropriation, discretion, and phatic sense), two seem to not sharing the fact that one is not failing us, the other is deceiving us. Guess what’s […]


The play that isn’t designed

[Disclaimer: Oh man, this is a topic I have opinions on]. The reading for this week focuses on several forms of play. Witticott, a psychoanalyst is interested in play as a creative activity and the affects it has upon the self. Schneider is interested in play and performance studies. Derrida, as far as I can […]



“In reality, the activity of reading has on the contrary all the characteristics of a silent production: the drift across the page, the meta-morphosis of the text effected by the wandering eyes of the reader, the improvisation and expectation of meanings inferred from a few words, leaps over written spaces in an ephemeral dance. But […]


Car as sculpture, car as performance

A Lamborghini Miura is the automobile equivalent of Shakespeare – and that is not because both are considered to be the acme of their respective art. Rather, it is because they both are texts, and from these texts emerges a performance (and vice versa). The work as a whole is constituted from these two opposed […]


Play With Your Food

Every few months, I look up this NYT Food piece by Sam Sifton so I can read it again. It traces the internet-aided popularisation of a dish called “Mississippi Roast” – beef cooked in a slow cooker with one packet of dry ranch dressing powder, one packet of gravy powder, a stick of butter, and […]


performing illness

“Rate your pain on a scale of 1 to 10? I try to answer, but the correct answer is always “a-numerical.” Sensation is the enemy of quantification.” —Anne Boyer Sick bodies are morphed into parts and numbers. The transformation turns an unknowable suffering into something measurable and legible. A doctor can look at your chart and […]


A Note on the Wall at MOMA:

During a recent visit to the MOMA Archives, I found a series of photos that documented the “Organic Design in Home Furnishings” Exhibit. The exhibit opened in September 24, 1941.   In one of the photos, there is a room with several small groupings of furniture pieces. The pieces include chairs, desks, drawers, cabinets, etc. […]



I used to play a lot of video games as a kid. I remember getting the original Playstation, loading up my copy of Crash Bandicoot, and playing for hours on end. I never beat the game, but I remember the levels being so entertaining. I didn’t know it then, but it was escapism. Over the […]



In the context of commodity culture, consumption encompasses more than just the foods we eat. As Americans, our very identities are formed around the things we consume or purchase, whether that be the clothes we buy, the items we have in our homes, or the things we do–everything we buy, enjoy and relish as consumers. […]


Gestures Vent

It tells much about who we are, and what type of message we’re trying to send to another. Depending on situations or recipient, we tend to take different gestures to utilize. To approach to this matter, let’s go back to what a gesture is, and how it’s used. For what reasons we are using gestures […]



“Even the most perfect reproduction of a work of art is lacking in one element: its presence in time and space, its unique existence at the place where it happens to be.” In The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, Walter Benjamin discusses the desedimentation of a work of art that has […]



To some, a stack of overturned buckets topped with a sloppily arranged section of bright green plastic grass might not seem like an obvious or even logical design choice with a defined purpose. To the newsstand operators on the corner of Montague and Henry Streets, that purpose is clear: something needs to support the automatic […]


Posture vs. Gesture

Next time you are walking alongside a row of parked cars, single one out and take a moment to understand its posture. The car you’ve chosen to look at may be crouched like a sprinter in the starting blocks, or lazily leaning back as if on an ottoman eating grapes, or sitting upright as if […]


Dance, Performance, Experimentation

Locations and safe spaces are paramount for being comfortable with yourself. The conversations have existed for a long time, but have a newer context with people discussing how to have a safe space on the internet. While the topic tends to focus on discussing topics that are triggering to people, the conversation is similar those […]


Unaffected or Disaffected?

Last week I encountered a guy who was attempting to get his start-up off the ground. It wasn’t the first time he’d been through the process, but the third or fourth. First, he told me about how his business partner was a complete narcissist, who was difficult to work with. Second, he told me he […]



Realness is the perfect illusion. In “Paris Is Burning” the illusion is held up to the “the great white way of looking.” Flaws have been erased and behaviors modified. Scarry says we exist in a world based not on truth but on fictions. When I think about “real world” data in healthcare, I think about real […]