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

Culture Crunch – SVA MA Design Research

Culture Crunch



Typography and lettering can convey far more than the words or phrases they spell out. In the case of ‘Chop Suey’ letters, however, what’s conveyed is a lazy and often offensively applied attempt to filter down an entire culture to its calligraphic core in order to infuse western language with an otherness. Writing systems and […]


Definition of style, I might know it

It is an interesting experience to walk through Broadway from SoHo to downtown Manhattan. You can observe ranges of people from fashionistas to college students, passing within NYU district. We often distinguish one group of individuals to another by observing what messages they are giving through their appearances. But their representation only depends on outsider’s […]



The tactics and strategies that Michel de Certeau describe in The Practice of Everyday Life are on full display in nearly every corner of New York City, a tactical utopia for those who wander. An invisible subworld of passageways and movements opens up to those who are attuned to them. The layers of the city […]



“Language is not an insurmountable barrier; it is a frontier. Learning the other’s tongue, or the other’s dialect means establishing an elementary symbolic relation with him, respecting him and joining him; crossing his frontier. A frontier is not a wall but a threshold.” Laws are written in words, yet they barriers they represent are formed […]


Stop calling it Origami

“Since the eighteenth century there has been no more architecture. […] The new beauty of concrete and iron is profaned by the superimposition of carnival decorative incrustations justified neither by structural necessity nor by our taste, and having their origins in Egyptian, Indian or Byzantine antiquity […].” –Filippo Tommaso Marinetti writing in the Manifesto of […]


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 […]



“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. […]


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 […]


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 […]