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

Authentic Myth – SVA MA Design Research

Paul Olmer

Authentic Myth

In a store at 391a Orchard Road in Singapore, a woman with spiky grey hair and glasses sits on a high stool, surrounded by exclusive products on beautifully crafted brass shelves with thick glass inserts.


In the rear corner of the store there is a small custom worktable in front of her with a specialized sewing machine built into the end of the worktable.   She sits just askew of the table, focusing on the piece in her lap: she stiches the shoulder strap onto the body of a leather handbag by hand, perhaps “the New Jackie, the New Pelham (or the) G Wave.”


She wears a beautiful brown leather apron with an iconic green and red branded neck ribbon, a chocolate brown long sleeve shirt, and a fabulous printed twill silk scarf kerchief style around her neck. (Available via Net-A-Porter for 465.00 US Dollars.)


She is an artisan, a craftsperson.


How do I know she is an artisan? She sits in the Artisan Corner, helpfully labeled.


I am informed via the website, “The Gucci Artisan Corner is a new retail event that transports the craftsmanship of Gucci’s Florentine leather goods factory directly to a Gucci store near you.”


This image tells me clearly: this woman is a myth.


Why does this image of this woman naturally confer authenticity? An authentic what? She is the real deal: a craftsperson, an expert, and an Italian.


We are told she “offers a unique insight into Gucci’s time honored traditions” and that we “can witness first hand the superb craftsmanship involved in producing every item in Gucci’s leather goods collection” by watching her work.


The myths resonate: the artisan, the craftsperson, and the authentic worker, the Florentine, the Italian, crafting an item created for you, and only you.


Should you happen to purchase an item, you may choose the option of having her emboss your initials on your new purchase, naturally, by hand.