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


Culture Crunch

Monologue, Interrupted

“You don’t know me, this isn’t church, and don’t wave your hand at me.” This was the pointedly aggressive response from the man in the wine bar (I don’t know his name, but let’s call him Dick) at whom I had dared make a wincing expression and a hand gesture intended to convey a polite […]

Culture Crunch

These Boots Are Made For ‘Grammin’

  A woman stopped me in the subway to compliment my boots. I smiled, thanked her and went across the platform to wait for my train. A moment later, I felt a tap on my shoulder; the same woman holding her phone up to my face with a photo of my boots on her Instagram […]

Culture Crunch

Why Are We Waving a Flag?

Since arriving in New York, seven weeks ago, there is one question that seems to follow me around. Everytime I meet someone new I can expect to be asked a question along the lines of “What do you find most bizarre in the US in comparison to your home country?” Even though there are numerous […]

Thesis Research

How to Pronounce Design in Portuguese: Brazil Today

Alum Frederico Duarte’s first major exhibition as curator, “Como se pronuncia design em português: Brasil Hoje,” opens September 23rd, 2017 at the Museu do Design e do Moda in Lisbon.   Frederico began researching Brazilian contemporary design as a student at SVA Design Research in 2009 and this show is the largest manifestation of his research […]

Culture Crunch

Open / Closed

The city is crowded. People are Moving all the time. Walking. Almost running.Never stop. Skyscrapers are all around Casting a shade that creates a drama in the air. It is a typical view of Manhattan, in Times Square. Very local. But actually, it seems like the only thing that is local here, are the buildings. […]

Culture Crunch

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 […]

Culture Crunch

The Chair

On Friday evening, I decided to take a much needed break from my current reality as an infant graduate student (two weeks filled with philosophical readings and having deep intellectual discussions with classmates) and immerse myself in the real world. On a whim my husband and I joined our friend Olivia at College Night hosted […]

Culture Crunch

1970s Pastiche to 2017 Feminism

Within the last few years, the media has fetishized the 1970s. Television shows such as Vinyl and The Deuce bring viewers back to a gritty era in New York, while fashion houses like Diane Von Furstenberg and Marc Jacobs appropriate the era’s silhouettes, patterns and palette. Culturally, why are we so invested in this decade? […]

Culture Crunch

The Art of the Non-Interview

I recently observed a particularly elegant solution to a problem.  A legendary publishing power couple were hosting two other couples at a small Manhattan restaurant.  The man on one side of the hostess was a blowhard who dominated their conversation over drinks and appetizers.  His name-dropping anecdotes could be heard by every other diner and […]

Culture Crunch

Reading, Flood

  Have you ever thought about your everyday actions? Brushing your teeth, dressing up, eating, sleeping.  Have you ever thought about occurrences that accompany your life constantly? A child riding his bike, a woman crosses the road, an elder sits on a bench. Have you ever thought about the action of reading? As you wake up […]

Culture Crunch

Urban Aquatic Living

Why aren’t more New Yorkers considering aquatic dwellings? Behind the FreshDirect facilities in Greenpoint, on Newtown Creek, there is a small community of sailors who have docked their boats. This is their home, on water, just far enough from the cacophony of the city but still in close proximity to the city so that it […]

Culture Crunch

Propaganda Non Grata

A few months ago, my best friend and I were returning to New York from a short, beautiful, and much-needed vacation. On the train ride back from Newark Liberty International airport, in the delirium of trying to preserve the last moments of our trip, I was filming her, us, and our surroundings. The above image […]

Culture Crunch

Collect ’em All!

A friend texts me snippets of life on that alien planet Facebook.  I myself rarely log in and when I do I hide in a manner that violates its Terms of Service.  I do this because I am too busy, too focused on physical space, and too conflicted about the toxic enthrallment of its plastic […]

Culture Crunch

Why Now?

Now. A contradiction within itself. As I am typing this I am conscious of the fact that I am constantly moving through the now, with each letter being typed never quick enough to catch it and always too slow to enjoy it. This paradox between the ghostlike quality and the actuality of the ‘now’ (the […]

Culture Crunch

Whale fall at the World Trade Center mall

Male fall Jonathan Briley loved music and like most venatic humans of New York, he was in hot pursuit of the white whale of fame & fortune. By day, he labored in a high-end restaurant as an audio engineer. Every moment after work was spent playing in a band. Ultimately, a number of articles, books […]

Culture Crunch

American Horror Story Cult: A Funhouse of American Political Ideologies

Entitled Cult, this season’s anthology of American Horror Story opens not with a Manson-esque religious commune as one might conjure from the title, but with the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Interspersed between news footage of Trump, the show juxtaposes two living rooms of opposing political leanings — one of an alt-right Trump fanatic, and the […]

Essay, Excerpt, Thesis Research

Making Room for Baby

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 […]

Sightlines, Thesis Abstract, Thesis Research

The Design of Lighting for Safety in South African Townships and Informal Settlements

A lack of safe lighting is a daily reality for almost one million children living in South African informal settlements. Township residents described safety as “protection,” or as “not having to constantly look over my shoulder.” My research investigates various forms of lighting currently in use in Kliptown and in informal settlements in Ikageng. High-mast […]

Sightlines, Thesis Abstract, Thesis Research

Eating Change: Designing a Food System for the Digital Age

The Blue Apron homepage features a birds’-eye view of an open Blue Apron box on a kitchen counter. Two hands in the shot invite you to insert yourself into the scene—as if you’re the one standing at the counter, looking down into this box that is tightly packed with colorful fresh produce. It’s a carefully […]