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

Cleaning: Drudgery or Delight? – SVA MA Design Research

Ajay Revels

Cleaning: Drudgery or Delight?

Of all the battles waged around the world, the battle against dirt is probably the oldest. The word ‘dirt’ represents not only the literal soil upon which agriculture is dependent, but it also stands for all sorts of physical, spiritual or moral defilements. Thoughts can be dirty. Speech can be dirty. And persons, can behave in dirty ways. Dirt is deemed to be a negative force associated with danger, impurities and evil that lurks ‘down there’.  An extreme form of this battle can manifest as mysophobia, an irrepressible fear of ‘uncleanliness’.

Clean; v. To clear, as of dirt, with or as if with a broom or brush. But what does clean mean? Is it really about the removal of impurities? If dirt is the enemy, then non-dirt or ‘clean’ suggests a return to purity, a reconnection to all that is ‘upright’, perfect. To clean something essentially means to bring it to its original state of perfection — the state of cleanliness that is next to godliness — the ultimate in up-ness and purity. In order to clean something, however, you must make contact with dirt and therefore, you get dirty which means that the one who cleans is always seen as being dirty.


Regardless of its benefits, the grim act of cleaning is boring, repetitious and lacks the swashbuckling adventure and excitement that battle suggests. Unless, that is, you choose to do battle with a Japanese broom made by the artisan Masanori Oji!Holding a beautiful broom aloft, you can shout your warning, your battle cry;

Hark! All ye cobwebs of old, hidden in corners, lurking under furniture and in the dark recesses of the closet! I am come for thee. With this broom, I thee banish to the far reaches of my realm. You cannot defeat me.


For today is a good day to clean!