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

public, private – SVA MA Design Research

Karisa Senavitis

public, private


It was a market access meeting in Berlin, during the world health summit, three autumns ago. We were there to design the future and empower new leadership. But there was distrust of any führer. No word to replace ‘leader’ seemed to work. The subject was dropped. We took the suggestion: “Let’s have an experience together first.”

Clearance wasn’t granted in time for the group to visit a local hospital. Access denied to the access team. We went to the Berlin Wall memorial instead. It stood/fell as the metaphor for our conversations.

After the field trip we resumed coffee-fueled meetings in a hotel conference room. The leaders of market access presented inspiration and strategies for 2020. The private will be less private and the public will be less public. And vice versa, until all markets are in balance: equal parts public and private.


The diagram described current markets as triangles: asymmetries that fit together. You could slide from the public to the private. The vision for future markets was stacked horizontal rectangles. It conveyed unity, consistency, equilibrium. It resembled a wall: impenetrable, absolute, no movement.

I have tried to chart the delineations of public and private and social through time: from Arendt to Marx to Habermas. The words have different functions in different contexts, so mapping one over the other doesn’t quite work and the lines are constantly redrawn. Walls don’t last. Neoliberal agendas for public/private partnerships blur any distinction between the two: the common and the particular, the corporate and the state, the personal and the political. It is one amorphous mass.

[Gibson-Graham wrote in response to this global capitalist trend from a queer feminist perspective (before Hitchcock). I was introduced to their economic geography work via Civic City Cahier 3: Distributed Agency, Design’s Potentiality.]