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




  “If you want to go to a party Saturday, throw it.” – Mom       There is something comforting and specific — and there is something frustrating and unaccommodating — about a custom shelf that will only hold one thing reliably.   My mother was born in Miami (pronounced by southerners as My-am-a […]



There are many moments in both design and between people that are important. This is my manifesto:   A minute is built of seconds, an hour built of minutes, and a life is built of moments. These moments may feel discrete and separate, but they are not.   An object or environment is also built […]

Critical Reader

Design for Resistance

It’s hard to believe that it was only last month that Robert Ivy, executive vice president and CEO of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), pledged the national organisation and its membership to working with president-elect Donald Trump. Issued just days after the election, the tone-deaf timing of the obsequious memo provoked reactions from The […]

Critical Reader

New No’s

No to racists No to fascists No to taxes funding racists and fascists   No mercy for rapists No pity for bigots No forgiveness for nativists No to all those   No hope without rage No rage without teeth No separate peace No easy feat   No to bounds by genders No to clickbait as […]

Critical Reader

The Hand of the Demagogue: An Interview with Hitler

His fingers have been compared to cocktail sausages. He has been called “a short-fingered vulgarian.” His rallies are marred by violence. He assures us that the size of his hands is not an issue nor is any other part of his body. He decries the decline of his country. His hair is orange. But before […]

Critical Reader

The Political Ontology of Threat

“The next pandemic,” screams a 2005 headline in Quebec’s reputedly most sober newspaper, “does not exist yet.” Beneath, in a supersize, full-color portrait, deceptively innocent-looking, peers a chicken. “The threat, however, could not be more real” (Soucy 2005). Observation: We live in times when what has not happened qualifies as front-page news… Read more

Critical Reader

The Book of Sir Thomas More, Act 2, Scene 4

 Grant them removed, and grant that this your noise Hath chid down all the majesty of England; Imagine that you see the wretched strangers, Their babies at their backs and their poor luggage, Plodding to the ports and coasts for transportation, And that you sit as kings in your desires, Authority quite silent by your […]

Critical Reader


Once, in a dry season, I wrote in large letters across two pages of a notebook that innocence ends when one is stripped of the delusion that one likes oneself. Although now, some years later, I marvel that a mind on the outs with itself should have nonetheless made painstaking record of its every tremor, […]

Critical Reader

The Gettysburg Address

Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are […]


The Glue Buddha

He sits on a small plywood dais that doubles as the top of a crate for six smaller bins of course-thread drywall screws, 1 ¼” thru 2 1/2” in length. The Glue Buddha is modestly wrapped at is base with prayer flags from Nepal and accompanied by a six inch fake topiary bunny with two […]



Do you live here? Are you waking up next to family? Is this the house you grew up in? Do you eat your mom’s cooking? Do you sit in your dad’s armchair when he’s not looking? Do you kick the soccer ball on the front lawn, or shoot hoops in the driveway? Do you live […]

“As technology continues to impact the way we travel, we can expect any number of the following to become commonplace, and we will have an even more personalized experience of a foreign place with the swipe of a finger: geolocation, better connectivity possibilities, wireless energy, personalization, frame-of-mind recommendations, and Augmented Reality.”

—Jenni Young


The Price of Loyalty: Paper Receipts and Their Implications

“Do you have a rewards card?” asked Luz, a stout cashier wearing a t-shirt that read “Attention Kmart Shoppers,” as she rang up a single pack of Orbit Sweet Mint gum. “No,” I replied. “Would you like to sign up for one? It only takes a minute,” she pressed. “No, thanks,” I said as the […]

Audio, Thesis Research

Ready? Stamp. Go!

There are a vast array of images, objects, and tools designed to allow us to travel the world, both physically and imaginatively. Our passport, for example, facilitates entry to foreign countries, while at the same time contains stamps that are a record of places visited and a gateway to our memories of those trips. This […]

Audio, Thesis Research

Museums & Instagram

Social media have become tools for museums to advertise their programs and collections, pass on general information about the institution and, most importantly, engage in a more direct dialogue with their audiences. This podcast explores the ways in which visitors and curators use Instagram in this context. It also questions the limitations of such platforms […]

Audio, Thesis Research

The Nagel Style

This podcast investigates the distinctive aesthetics of window decals used in many nail salons and dry cleaners in New York City. Through interviews with passersby, customers, and store owners as well as archival research, this story tracks the discovery of the decal’s ultimate of inspiration: the artist Patrick Nagel. Nagel, who worked in the 1970s […]

Audio, Thesis Research

Scalies: Traversing the Render Universe

Ever wonder about the people in the architectural renderings that hang in the windows of real estate offices or on the scaffolding around construction sites? You know, those happy people doing yoga, riding bikes, and pushing strollers? In the architecture world, these people are called “scalies” due to their function as markers of scale and […]

Audio, Thesis Research

Beyond Fantasy – North Korean Posters

This podcast considers the contemporary contexts–both physical and digital–of North Korean propaganda posters. Featuring interviews with design writer Steven Heller, a North Korea Strategy Center officer, and a North Korean defector it presents through multiple points of view the complex eco-system of North Korean propaganda production and distribution.

Audio, Thesis Research

Big Fish Eat Small Fish

In recent years, big strategy-consulting giants have acquired design companies in an effort to build internal design expertise that can better address both strategic goals and customer experience. Corporations such as Deloitte, McKinsey, EY, and Accenture have co-opted design firms Doblin, Lunar, Intuitive, and Fjord respectively. This podcast tries to unravel the consequences of these […]

Audio, Thesis Research

New Amsterdam, Part 1

“New Amsterdam” is the first installment of an experimental new podcast that presents near-future design fiction in the form of a radio-drama style narrative. The story takes place in New York in the year 2027, ten years after a series of hurricanes flooded major parts of Brooklyn and Manhattan, and follows the Commissioner of Emergency […]