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

Research – SVA MA Design Research


Thesis Research

Exhibiting Absence: Communicating Grief through Dress, Decor, and the Digital.

The ritual of selection of the right frame, or the right candle holder, the right ceramic angel to hang on the wall with a message of remembrance inscribed in it, becomes an extended part of the mourning process. Different from the ultimately pragmatic value of storing the ashes of a loved one in an urn, […]

Thesis Research

Designing the Instapersona: Instagram and the Business of Identity

On October 6, 2010, twenty-five-thousand people signed up for Instagram within the first 24 hours of the app’s launch. During its first year, the platform gained 12 million users—a number that took Facebook two years to accomplish.¹²³ Created as a fun, accessible photo sharing app for the iPhone, Instagram has evolved into an industry of over […]

Thesis Research

The Way Out: Rewriting Wayfinding Design in the Digital Age

This is a snippet from the essay “Sticky Agency,” one of four essays in Anja’s applied thesis portfolio. “Sticky Notes” I am walking down the street, and my right foot suddenly comes to a halt. Someone else’s discarded pink, goooooey, bubble gum is stuck to the sole of my shoe. Disgusted, I look down at […]

Thesis Research

Hyperparasite: You Have More Followers Than You Think

The privacy scholar Alan Westin foretold of serious consequences from a new form of surveillance based on monitoring people via their personal data stored in government databases. Today, the behaviors, movements, social relationships, interests, weaknesses and most private moments of billions are constantly recorded, evaluated and analyzed in real-time and turned into vast profits by […]


Moon Memes and Fashion Themes: Social Media at the Turn of the 20th Century

The invention of the camera provided individuals with a chance to see a great deal of the world outside of their microcosm, allowed them to share updates of their lives with their family, and provided a visual source of entertainment and activity through the act of collecting portraits of beautiful women, celebrities and pets. While […]

Culture Crunch

Join the Fun!

The gamification of everything is here to stay.  Our relationship with technology has eroded our attention spans to less than that of a virtual gnat, so anything that captures even an extra millisecond of our consideration is adding value.  Companies are investing significant sums to perfect the secret sauce of play and productivity, and numerous examples of successes are […]

Culture Crunch

Bicycle Blues

Walking on West 21st Street, between Broadway and 7th Avenue, there are numerous bicycles tied to bicycle racks, street poles, and even trash cans on the sidewalk. These inappropriately parked bicycles clutter the walkway, creating an unpleasant, and stressful pedestrian navigation experience. This disarray of bicycle parking opportunities is caused by careless design and a […]

Culture Crunch

The Meek Shall Inherit

The sub-culture of Silicon Valley has become more prominent within the last few years, thanks to news scandals and HBO’s hit series Silicon Valley. With money flowing and the tech sector growing, nerds are ruling the world. But this sub-culture has taken the nerd stereotype and embraced it, becoming a group of Peter Pans isolated […]

Culture Crunch


Lately there seems to be a marked decline in the quality of the NYC taxi experience.  Cabs are dirtier, smellier, and more rattly. There seem to be more new drivers who are less knowledgeable about basic city geography – just yesterday a driver was bizarrely confused by my request to go uptown forty blocks on […]

Culture Crunch

Sudden Death

It was a sudden death, no prolonged sickness, no signs or warning that it was the end.  This week, from one minute to the next, my Apple Macbook Pro notebook computer expired.  It felt like a betrayal.  How could this object fail me without warning?  Immediately, I rushed the computer to Mike’s Tech Shop on […]

Culture Crunch

Instagram’s Repetition of Desire

Instagram exists as a facilitator between individuals seeking validation. As Elaine Scarry discusses in her book The Body in Pain, we figuratively turn our bodies “inside-out” by making our private internal desires “exterior and sharable” (284). Instagram also works as an extension of our bodies by allowing us an outlet for selective memories. As one […]

Culture Crunch

Writing / Typing- The evolution of body gestures

Handwriting is an action created by the human body. A handwritten piece is a physical trace that lives individually in the world as a separate entity. One’s handwriting is a personal possession, almost an intimate treasure. The handwritten piece is an evidence of many slices of information. It is a reflection of the writer’s mood, […]

Culture Crunch

Inhale, Explode

On October 23rd, in their “Live Smarter” section, Mental Floss published an article titled “Need to Calm Yourself Down? Try This Military-Approved Breathing Technique”.   The article — a small, friendly, 150-word thing — is addressed to an audience that work in an office setting, and encounter stress there. It offers the advice: “Take a […]

Culture Crunch

Interesting, isn’t it?

On Saturday evening, I attended the premiere performance of a new contemporary dance company, Matheta Dance, in the East Village. The performance was divided into two parts: “Keep On” and “Keep Up.” Part one of the performance was a call to action to be more aware of how women are ill-treated, underestimated, and undervalued in […]

Culture Crunch

Foreign Trade Zone #163

The Taíno people who lived on Boriquén – now called Puerto Rico – were decimated by the Spanish germs, guns and greed that swept across the Caribbean archipelago in the 1500s in search of gold. Before disappearing under banana farms and clothing factories, the Taíno culture left a legacy of food, musical instruments, the hammock and […]

Culture Crunch

Seeking a Metaphor

It’s the coldest day of the year. You emerge from the Lex Av/59th St subway station. You are welcomed back to the world in kind: H&M, The Gap, Banana Republic greet you with their warm glow of abundance as you transition from grimy stairs to grimy sidewalk. You hunch your shoulders, bow your head against […]

Culture Crunch

The Real Thing

What can we predict with the introduction of the latest leap of technology? When is a sea change in fact just an iteration that follows previously observed patterns? That saying about things being crystal clear in the rearview mirror certainly seems to apply to Facebook.  Who could have predicted that the social media platform would […]

Culture Crunch

Capture the moment

Three days after we leave Israel, my sister announces that they will be coming to NYC in October. It is the holiday season in Israel so they can have a long vacation and visit us.  We are so happy to hear the good news and when we check their actual vacation dates, we are even […]

Culture Crunch

War, what is it good for?

On Oct 6, 2017 news broke about the ambush and killing of 3 US Special Forces soldiers  in the African state of Niger. That same week a new set of war game posters were spotted in the New York subway advertising the latest immersive video game to take your mind off — what else? — […]


Battle of “The Bride” and the Authentic Self

While watching my sister-in-law walk down the wedding aisle, I noticed guests pulling out their phones and snapping photos, as though she was an object needing to be captured and shared beyond the limited audience. It bought me back to my wedding day, walking down the aisle, a strange disembodying experience itself, but further complicated by […]