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.

designresearch@sva.edu

t.

@dcrit

p.

(212) 592-2228

SVA MA Design Research

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Link

09/19

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Thesis Research

Everything That Rises: Thinking About Design in Precarious Times

This is the introduction to the Class of 2019 publication, Everything That Rises: Thinking about Design in Precarious Times. The publication contains essays and excerpts from the students’ thesis research and was an accompaniment to Precarious: The 2019 Graduate Symposium held on May 13, 2019 at the SVA Theatre.

Thesis Research

Style on the Inside

Within an American penal system intending to remove individuality through the enforcement of uniformity, incarcerated individuals’ clothing in fact functions as a site of negotiation, on which articulations of identity and institution combat, push-pull, and give-take symbolic ownership of the body.

Thesis Research

The Rise of the Design Procedural: Why Rogers and Cantwell Didn’t Want to Write Another Show About Police or Doctors

This is an excerpt from Deena Denaro’s larger thesis portfolio titled “The Rise of the Design Procedural: Exploring Design’s Narrative Agency in Serial Television.” It is a part of the Class of 2020’s graduate thesis presentation “Statements from Isolation.” Is that a fish tank?  A distressed Texas twang is punctuated by the well-timed bell of an […]

Essay

Overlooked/Underappreciated

These pieces were written for Rob Walker’s Narrative Strategies for Objects project as part of the 2019 Design Writing and Research Summer Intensive. They are published in Overlooked/Underappreciated, an examination of the minutiae of quotidian life.

Thesis Research

We Call It Freedom Village: Brooklyn, Illinois’s Radical Tactics of Black Place-Making

This is an excerpt from Alicia Olushola Ajayi’s larger thesis portfolio titled “We Call It Freedom Village: Brooklyn, Illinois’ Radical Tactics of Black Place-making.” It is a part of the Class of 2020’s graduate thesis presentation “Statements from Isolation.” Introduction Brooklyn, Illinois, sits directly across from St. Louis, Missouri, on the east bank of the Mississippi […]

Essay, unMute

Engineered Nature

This essay is a part of unMUTE, a collection of pieces written by participants in the 2020 Design Writing and Research Summer Intensive Online. The Nelson chair has no parts. No confusing assembly instructions with cartoon drawings of androgynous stick figures wielding hammers and screwdrivers. In fact, there are no nails, screws, adhesives, or joinery […]

Essay, unMute

Natasha Jen: Craving Diversity—A Messy Process

This essay is a part of unMUTE, a collection of pieces written by participants in the 2020 Design Writing and Research Summer Intensive Online. “I arrived a little early.” Graphic designer Natasha Jen appears on our Zoom via video. Distinct and respectful, she is not only ahead of time but also directing the discipline of […]

Essay, unMute

Permeable Barriers

This essay is a part of unMUTE, a collection of pieces written by participants in the 2020 Design Writing and Research Summer Intensive Online. Only a few months ago, when my movement was not constricted by quarantine, my days were punctuated by passage through many doors: openings that marked entry into work, school, the homes […]

Thesis Research

Experimental Aesthetics in Tabletop Games

This is an excerpt from Joseph Nally’s larger thesis portfolio titled “Post-Elegance: Experimental Aesthetics in Tabletop Game Design.” It is a part of the Class of 2020’s graduate thesis presentation “Statements from Isolation.” Nineteen eighty-six was an important year in the development of games. Two obscure things happened: the mass publication of Heimlich & Co. by […]

Thesis Research

Tha: From Preserving Sites to Self

This is an excerpt from Ridhima Sharma’s larger thesis portfolio titled “Tha: From Preserving Sites to Self.” It is a part of the Class of 2020’s graduate thesis presentation “Statements from Isolation.” What is this India, apart from her physical and geographical aspects? [. . . ]How did she lose that old strength, and has she […]

Essay, unMute

B-F-FitBit

This essay is a part of unMUTE, a collection of pieces written by participants in the 2020 Design Writing and Research Summer Intensive Online. Faded from use, and pigmented in such an of-the-moment lavender that the color’s prominence in the zeitgeist seems particularly notable merely for its omission from one of Pantone’s yearly lists. On […]

Thesis Research

The Space of In-Between: A formal design analysis of the car as a social space

This is an excerpt from Galina Yordanov’s larger thesis portfolio titled “Driving Through Division: The Car as Actor in Lebanese Society.” It is a part of the Class of 2020’s graduate thesis presentation “Statements from Isolation.” The Intimate Space The average passenger vehicle fits four or five people, and is furnished to accomodate the needs […]

Essay, unMute

Walking America’s Factory Floors with Chris Payne

This essay is a part of unMUTE, a collection of pieces written by participants in the 2020 Design Writing and Research Summer Intensive Online. Not too many people’s day jobs put them at the top of a rocket-launch platform on a Tuesday and on the factory floor of America’s oldest hat manufacturer on a Friday. […]

Essay

Seen / Unseen

We’re safe because we cross together. Orderly white lines bisect our path from one curb to the next: equidistant, equal width, all the way across. If we walk as a mass across this slatted surface, then the people in the cars will see us better. If we stay together, and within the width, then we’ll be safe.

Essay

Why I Teach What I Teach

To answer the question, why I teach, I must return to why I design, why I art direct, why I write, and why I helped found this program. It’s a simple evolution. I stumbled into graphic design while pursuing a job as a cartoonist and illustrator for an underground newspaper. I loved to draw, although […]

Excerpt, Thesis Abstract, Thesis Research

Making Room for Baby: Navigating Children’s Domestic Environments in Contemporary America

The rooms we live in are sites where status, ideology, and anxiety surface materially: they are, in a sense, portraits of us. From this point of view, rooms inhabited by children are doubly fraught, reflecting not only clues to the identity of the child but the viewpoints of parents as well. Through their purchase or […]

Excerpt, Thesis Abstract, Thesis Research

Design, Thinking? Or How Design (Really) Wants To Make It In The Business World

“Design thinking” emerged in the workplace as a management practice, intended to codify and package designers’ way of thinking and doing into a step-by-step approach. The term tapped into executive, mid-management, and entrepreneurial anxieties about perpetually being innovative. But as companies adopt the fun and fast approach to innovation, a new myth about design is […]

Essay, unMute

In Appreciation of the Bobby Pin

This essay is a part of unMUTE, a collection of pieces written by participants in the 2020 Design Writing and Research Summer Intensive Online. I should have gotten a haircut before the quarantine began. But who anticipated how long it would last or that my hair would grow so long? It’s not a big deal—certainly […]

Excerpt, Thesis Abstract, Thesis Research

Designing Sex, Death, and Survival in the Twenty-First Century

Successful experience designers, self-identified or not, tend to employ similar strategies, especially when it comes to opening people up to risk in a caring way. This research will inform a lexicon for designing experiences, with a specific focus on experiences that aim for human enrichment. Drawing from game studies, positive psychology, and the anthropology of […]

Thesis Research

The State of Kuwait

What does it mean to be Kuwaiti? A seemingly straightforward question—yet, one of present urgency. In only 14 years, the population of Kuwait exploded, doubling in size from 2.1 million people to its current population of over 4 million people, of whom 70% are not Kuwaiti.

Excerpt, Thesis Research

Tinkering with Design: The Convergence of Design and Hacking

Avinash Rajagopal explores the convergence of the two dominant modes of creation 21st century and its role in realizing an open ecotopia, straight out of Buckminster Fuller’s theories and Bruce Sterling’s fiction.

Thesis Research

While the Doors Are Closed: The Art Self(ie) at Home

This is an excerpt from Polly Adams’s larger thesis portfolio titled “Enter Through the Gift Shop: Designed Objects, Images, and Identity in New York City’s Art Museums.” It is a part of the Class of 2020’s graduate thesis presentation “Statements from Isolation.” A Brave New World While most of the world has screeched to a halt […]

Essay, unMute

An Ethical Dilemma of Faux-mage

This essay is a part of unMUTE, a collection of pieces written by participants in the 2020 Design Writing and Research Summer Intensive Online. When I made the decision to go vegan in 2008, figuring out replacements for foods I’d miss was a challenge. While I was never a huge lover of cheese, I found […]

Excerpt, Thesis Research

Untangling the Naps: The Afro Talks Back

Michele Washington illustrates the ways in which the Afro has been used as a significant graphic element in the black vernacular narrative.

“If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my time as a professional, cemented for me after leaving D-Crit, it’s that extensive research informs the best work, and can lead you down pathways you never thought of. Having research as a tool in my arsenal has made me a better designer and, probably, a more engaged person.”

–Erin M. Routson, Class of 2012

“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

“Megaprojects have provided especially lucrative investment opportunities. Characterized by the revamping of large swaths of land and the creation of new neighborhoods comprising some blend of residential, commercial, and perhaps cultural spaces, these projects represent a new chapter in the evolution of city building, and an interesting cross-pollination of the two fiercely opposing viewpoints of twentieth century city planning—those of Jane Jacobs and Robert Moses.”

—Alex Klimoski

Link

05/24

10/23

Kimberlie Birks (Class of 2011) interview on Fatherly: “The 7 Most Beautifully Designed Children’s Toys, According to Someone Who Actually Knows” by Joshua David Stein

As a father with kids who like stuff and me also liking stuff, I have a lot of stuff. In my childrens’ rooms is an embarrassing amount of stuffed animals, a tumult of toys, a menagerie of tiny chairs and knee-high desks. Much of this stuff is, let’s face, it aesthetically worthless.  Most of it is plastic, which means this aesthetic worthlessness will be around for millennia. Design for children, too often, has been conflated with bright colors, bold shapes, and shoddy construction. But in a new book Design for Children, author Kimberlie Birks showcases more than 450 designs for children from some of the century’s greatest visual minds from Phillippe Starck to Piero Lissoni. We recently chatted with Birks about what her deep dive into children’s design taught her and asked her to pick her favorite designs from the book.

Do you find children’s design has more in common with its contemporary adult designs or with children’s design through time? That is, is a toy made in 1950 more similar to a desk made in 1950 or a toy made in 1980?

Children’s objects are often a signal of the times, reflecting both the evolution of the design industry and shifts in public perception. Fascinatingly, much of the design history of the twentieth century can be traced through developments in children’s furniture, as their smaller scale was ideal for designers seeking to test new materials and processes. From the wood and tubular steel constructions of the Bauhaus in the 1920s, to the plastic pioneers of the 1960s, the remarkable technical, material and aesthetic innovations made in design for children reflected—and often led—the wider design field. As such, children’s design can be often seen to have more in common with its contemporary adult designs than with children’s designs from other eras. Read more… (more…)

Link

02/15

Olivia Coetzee (Class of 2017) for Design Observer

Use Only as Directed: 
Safety is not Always Safe
“Liewer bang Jan as dooie Jan.”

This Afrikaans idiom roughly (directly) translates to “Rather scared Jan than dead Jan.” It’s an expression similar to rather safe than sorry but much more urgent.

Objects designed to provide safety can still put you in life or death situations, just like their earlier, unsafer, predecessors. Many “safe” objects now bear the word “safety” as part of their (misleading) titles. Many other safety objects boldly proclaim PROTECTION, HEALTH, and SAFETY on their covers with much smaller, thankfully bold, WARNINGS and DIRECTIONS about all potential dangers on the back. But are these objects as safe as their names suggest? [read more…]

sailor