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

Making Room for Baby – SVA MA Design Research

Lila Allen

Making Room for Baby

Modern Family. © NBC

Black-ish. © ABC

Lila Allen, Class of 2016, wrote her thesis on the design of children’s spaces. Her research was adapted for publication in the 4th issue of Kinder: A Journal Dedicated To Child Design, Past, Present, and Future.

Consider the choice between two cribs: One is a Vetro, a fully recyclable, limited-edition acrylic pen by Nursery Works that retails for $4,500—the same crib featured in North West’s nursery in Keeping Up with the Kardashians. The second option is the DaVinci Jenny Lind three-in-one convertible crib, on sale for $225. Its frame is turned wood, painted in a brilliant teal. The form is more familiar than that of the Vetro, deriving from a popular bed frame that first emerged in the nineteenth century and remains a flea-market staple today. As a new parent, which would you choose, and why?

Domestic spaces reflect financial realities and aspirations, and embody tastes, anxieties, whims, and trends. They reveal the cultural and economic forces that form the undercurrent of everyday life, surfacing in materials, products, and spatial configuration. What, then, are we to make of children’s rooms? In these spaces, parents are the gatekeepers and the purse-string holders. Children, with their limited agency, money, and autonomy, receive design rather than direct it. Countless choices go into crafting an environment—regarding the materials and patterns of textiles, the color of the walls, and the quality and nature of the toys, to start. Parents generate—or at least endorse—through their purchases the spaces and playthings shaping a child’s earliest habits and behaviors. Particularly as a child transitions from dependence to independence, consumables in his or her environment perform the gestures otherwise provided by parents—sustenance, comfort, and safety […continued]