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





(212) 592-2228

Thesis Research – Research Types – SVA MA Design Research

Thesis Research

Excerpt, Thesis Abstract, Thesis Research

Painting SoHo: A Study on the Appropriation of Urban Space

  Abstract In early June 2020, hundreds of artists descended on SoHo in New York City to paint plywood boards nailed to the neighborhood’s storefronts with images reflective of the tumultuous times the city was attempting to navigate. Some stores had been boarded up after the state-mandated closing of non-essential businesses at the beginning of […]

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

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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

Designing Civic Participation

Experts agree that civic engagement is receding across the globe. To improve civic discourse and sustain democratic societies, active interventions are required. But these interventions cannot be expected to come from governments, who rather prefer less scrutiny from a highly engaged citizenry. Instead, interventions need to be pursued by civilians vying to protect democracy.

Thesis Research

Porcelain Cigarette Holder

As an object, it is subtle. It is made of porcelain and hand-painted with a delicate pink floral motif. It is shaped like a small tea saucer with an attached pedestal, featuring three tiers of tiny, hollow cylinders jutting upwards, waiting to be filled, like vases for microscopic roses.

Thesis Research

Research Conversation 

Codename: “What if something had appeared that you had never known, but only imagined?” Context: There is no time. There is no space. When will we talk—face to face? Keywords: un/consciousness, fiction, love, cosmos, relationship, humanity, distance 

Thesis Research

On the design of interactive art for healing

One in five American adults use at least one psychiatric medication. In 2010, 11 percent of adult men and 21 percent of adult women revealed they were taking antidepressants. Aldous Huxley, the early 20th century English writer and philosopher, foresaw that we seem to be entering the age of mockery; one example being that medical research has “advanced” to the point where few people are considered healthy.

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.

Thesis Research

Framing The Wayfinding Experience Through The Lens Of A City Language

Wayfinding is not just a beautiful map and well-designed signs. It’s a practice that should aim to encourage humans’ abilities to find their paths and promote urban mobility. This feels especially imperative since 55 percent of the world’s population is thought to be living in an urban area or city, with that figure set to rise to 68 percent over the coming decades.

Thesis Research

Partial Fish, Whole Truth

The Classic Norwegian Roasted Salmon (or CNRS for brevity’s sake) – of the “Changing Seas: Responsible Seafood” line of products from the “Blue Circle” organization, which serves its commodities exclusively through Whole Foods Market, a subsidiary of a corporation known as Amazon – is a sophisticated truth.

Thesis Research

Hitting the Ceiling

There is really only one word in the English language to describe the top enclosure of a building: roof. No synonyms of “roof” are directly equivalent, but they are revealing. Some, like “ceiling” or “parapet,” describe parts of a roof. But others, like “house,” “shelter,” or “crown,” point to the essentiality of the element. To put a roof over your head means to be housed, to have shelter. This is arguably the fundamental purpose of architecture.

Thesis Research

Unfolding the Soul

As I walk through the city of New York, I pass by a multitude of flags which conjure up a sense of intensity. Their movements caused by the wind, their reverberating aura, embody my thoughts. I gaze at these moving images. I touch them with my eyes, I hear their waving sounds with my gaze. 4,600 miles away from my homeland, the presence of the American flag is constantly animating my memory, my identity, and reminding me where I am located geographically, emotionally, and culturally.

Thesis Research

Learning In-Situ: The Materiality of Knowledge-Making

At the front of Mrs. Balliett’s second-grade classroom at The Buckley School, an independent all-boys school in Upper Manhattan, is a colorful, wall-to-wall rug. It is deep blue with multicolored polka dots woven into 100% Invista type 6.6. Continuous Filament Nylon. 

Thesis Research

Networking & Play: Designing Interaction in Coworking Spaces

How does physical space impact the people in a coworking space? What is the experience that coworking spaces try to create? Coworking space proprietors use the space as a strategic marketing tool, as a community-based experience. Great, this is exactly what the isolated individual who works all day from home, feels they are missing. The […]