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


Audio, Sightlines, Thesis Research

Lighting and Public Safety in NYC

Olivia Coetzee examines the politics of public lighting in New York City and how darkness and light can articulate boroughs, neighborhoods, and social classes.

Audio, Sightlines, Thesis Research

Unfolding: The Manifold Mysteries of Miniature Folded Medical Inserts

What objects are designed to negotiate the boundaries of chronically ill collective care groups? How are patients assembling digital infrastructures and what can interface designers repair? What does “real world” data make real? In this podcast Karisa Senavitis explores why and how pharmaceutical companies provide obtuse documents in medical packaging.

Sightlines, Thesis Abstract, Thesis Research

Influencers in the System: The Instant Media of Fashion

It was a Saturday morning at The Grove shopping mall, one of the biggest outdoor retail and entertainment complexes in Los Angeles. The West Coast’s winter breeze was still warm enough for Rebecca Minkoff’s off-shoulder tops and sundresses. A rail car arrived with a sign reading, “REBECCA MINKOFF, #RMGoesGrove.” With live performances from MILCK and […]

Sightlines, Thesis Abstract, Thesis Research

Car Design is Dead

“Cars have never been more competent than they are today … and never less useful,” wrote the critic Stephen Bayley in his 2012 book Cars. More competent, less useful. The method I used to measure what would seem like a paradoxical statement is the concept of “proper function” and “system function” by theorist Beth Preston. […]

Sightlines, Thesis Abstract, Thesis Research

Rules, Play, Magic: Evaluating Games as Design

Games haven’t been considered as design for very long. In fact, what was considered a game is still regularly debated. The term “game design” was reportedly first used by Redmond A. Simonsen, a graphic designer working for the wargame company SPI in the late 1960s.(1) Simonsen was primarily working with James Dunnigan on games simulating […]

Sightlines, Thesis Abstract, Thesis Research

DATA FEELS: Digital Objects of Collective Care

The validity or trust in objects relates to the legibility of their design. All the objects I’ve studied were made with what is at hand, and therefore bare inconsistencies. This distinguishes them from interfaces designed for patient use and requiring some measure of compliance. It is their mark of patient labor. Inconsistency is awkward to […]

Sightlines, Thesis Abstract, Thesis Research

The Work at Hand

In the rear corner of a store at 391a Orchard Road in Singapore, a woman with spiky grey hair and glasses sits on a high stool, above a small custom worktable with a specialized sewing machine.  She sits just askew of the table, focusing on the piece in her lap. Exclusive luxury products on beautifully […]



  “If you want to go to a party Saturday, throw it.” – Mom       There is something comforting and specific — and there is something frustrating and unaccommodating — about a custom shelf that will only hold one thing reliably.   My mother was born in Miami (pronounced by southerners as My-am-a […]



There are many moments in both design and between people that are important. This is my manifesto:   A minute is built of seconds, an hour built of minutes, and a life is built of moments. These moments may feel discrete and separate, but they are not.   An object or environment is also built […]

Critical Reader

Design for Resistance

It’s hard to believe that it was only last month that Robert Ivy, executive vice president and CEO of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), pledged the national organisation and its membership to working with president-elect Donald Trump. Issued just days after the election, the tone-deaf timing of the obsequious memo provoked reactions from The […]

Critical Reader

New No’s

No to racists No to fascists No to taxes funding racists and fascists   No mercy for rapists No pity for bigots No forgiveness for nativists No to all those   No hope without rage No rage without teeth No separate peace No easy feat   No to bounds by genders No to clickbait as […]

Critical Reader

The Hand of the Demagogue: An Interview with Hitler

His fingers have been compared to cocktail sausages. He has been called “a short-fingered vulgarian.” His rallies are marred by violence. He assures us that the size of his hands is not an issue nor is any other part of his body. He decries the decline of his country. His hair is orange. But before […]

Critical Reader

The Political Ontology of Threat

“The next pandemic,” screams a 2005 headline in Quebec’s reputedly most sober newspaper, “does not exist yet.” Beneath, in a supersize, full-color portrait, deceptively innocent-looking, peers a chicken. “The threat, however, could not be more real” (Soucy 2005). Observation: We live in times when what has not happened qualifies as front-page news… Read more

Critical Reader

The Book of Sir Thomas More, Act 2, Scene 4

 Grant them removed, and grant that this your noise Hath chid down all the majesty of England; Imagine that you see the wretched strangers, Their babies at their backs and their poor luggage, Plodding to the ports and coasts for transportation, And that you sit as kings in your desires, Authority quite silent by your […]

Critical Reader


Once, in a dry season, I wrote in large letters across two pages of a notebook that innocence ends when one is stripped of the delusion that one likes oneself. Although now, some years later, I marvel that a mind on the outs with itself should have nonetheless made painstaking record of its every tremor, […]

Critical Reader

The Gettysburg Address

Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are […]


The Glue Buddha

He sits on a small plywood dais that doubles as the top of a crate for six smaller bins of course-thread drywall screws, 1 ¼” thru 2 1/2” in length. The Glue Buddha is modestly wrapped at is base with prayer flags from Nepal and accompanied by a six inch fake topiary bunny with two […]



Do you live here? Are you waking up next to family? Is this the house you grew up in? Do you eat your mom’s cooking? Do you sit in your dad’s armchair when he’s not looking? Do you kick the soccer ball on the front lawn, or shoot hoops in the driveway? Do you live […]

“As technology continues to impact the way we travel, we can expect any number of the following to become commonplace, and we will have an even more personalized experience of a foreign place with the swipe of a finger: geolocation, better connectivity possibilities, wireless energy, personalization, frame-of-mind recommendations, and Augmented Reality.”

—Jenni Young


The Price of Loyalty: Paper Receipts and Their Implications

“Do you have a rewards card?” asked Luz, a stout cashier wearing a t-shirt that read “Attention Kmart Shoppers,” as she rang up a single pack of Orbit Sweet Mint gum. “No,” I replied. “Would you like to sign up for one? It only takes a minute,” she pressed. “No, thanks,” I said as the […]