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

HAUT – SVA MA Design Research

Molly Woodward



Disembodied legs surround me. This is no euphemism or surreal dream–there are boxes and boxes of hard plastic legs attached to nothing surrounding me in a room. Some lie horizontal, scattered atop random surfaces, like the victims in some catastrophic crime scene that affected the lower half of at least a dozen mannequins. Others stand erect, fixed in place on tip toes, defying gravity by design.

The window of the shop front facing Rue General Du Gaulle is a tableau of underwear and body parts. The legs flaunt their angles, calling out to passersby for attention, but are no match for the cookie factory down the road which doesn’t need visuals to seduce you. Lined up and dressed, the amputated legs form a troupe, enacting some sort of ritualistic line dance of commerce, kicking customers towards the entrance.

But in the store room, next to the kitchen, the parts lie unadorned and piled haphazardly in a wreckage of limbs. They take on a gruesome appearance. Stray limbs catch the light and then your eye as you walk past. They are mass produced with a high gloss not normally seen in humans, save for a medical anomalies or cosmetic procedures.

How weird it must be to work in a factory that makes these legs, creating something that–though it can literally stand on its own–is used solely to display something else. The legs lack not just an individual identity, but the rest of a body. They are faceless, but also armless, torsoless, fingerless… Naked and detached from the body and from purpose, they are somehow complete in their fragmentation.

The scene is strange and grisly, but somehow fitting of a town whose most notable resident caused what locals referred to as “the broken leg incident.”