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


Excerpt, Thesis Abstract, Thesis Research

Designing Sex, Death, and Survival in the Twenty-First Century

Successful experience designers, self-identified or not, tend to employ similar strategies, especially when it comes to opening people up to risk in a caring way. This research will inform a lexicon for designing experiences, with a specific focus on experiences that aim for human enrichment. Drawing from game studies, positive psychology, and the anthropology of […]



Typography and lettering can convey far more than the words or phrases they spell out. In the case of ‘Chop Suey’ letters, however, what’s conveyed is a lazy and often offensively applied attempt to filter down an entire culture to its calligraphic core in order to infuse western language with an otherness. Writing systems and […]



In the previous week’s readings, we visited Derrida’s notion of the center, which with regard to knowledge, is constantly shifting. In creating new understandings of how systems function, there is a preoccupation with the center, it’s function, and how it comes to define the whole. For centuries across cultures of medicine, for example, the heart […]


Kung Fu Fighting

Upon reading the title of Hybrid Cultures, I recall the bizarre situation that created Carl Douglas’ classic song, Kung Fu Fighting. When we talk about appropriation of culture in a modern sense, we don’t think about it in relation to hybrid culture. Maybe it’s my liberal mentality, but this Kung Fu Fighting seems to exist […]


The play that isn’t designed

[Disclaimer: Oh man, this is a topic I have opinions on]. The reading for this week focuses on several forms of play. Witticott, a psychoanalyst is interested in play as a creative activity and the affects it has upon the self. Schneider is interested in play and performance studies. Derrida, as far as I can […]



I used to play a lot of video games as a kid. I remember getting the original Playstation, loading up my copy of Crash Bandicoot, and playing for hours on end. I never beat the game, but I remember the levels being so entertaining. I didn’t know it then, but it was escapism. Over the […]



In the context of commodity culture, consumption encompasses more than just the foods we eat. As Americans, our very identities are formed around the things we consume or purchase, whether that be the clothes we buy, the items we have in our homes, or the things we do–everything we buy, enjoy and relish as consumers. […]



To some, a stack of overturned buckets topped with a sloppily arranged section of bright green plastic grass might not seem like an obvious or even logical design choice with a defined purpose. To the newsstand operators on the corner of Montague and Henry Streets, that purpose is clear: something needs to support the automatic […]


Posture vs. Gesture

Next time you are walking alongside a row of parked cars, single one out and take a moment to understand its posture. The car you’ve chosen to look at may be crouched like a sprinter in the starting blocks, or lazily leaning back as if on an ottoman eating grapes, or sitting upright as if […]


Dance, Performance, Experimentation

Locations and safe spaces are paramount for being comfortable with yourself. The conversations have existed for a long time, but have a newer context with people discussing how to have a safe space on the internet. While the topic tends to focus on discussing topics that are triggering to people, the conversation is similar those […]


Unaffected or Disaffected?

Last week I encountered a guy who was attempting to get his start-up off the ground. It wasn’t the first time he’d been through the process, but the third or fourth. First, he told me about how his business partner was a complete narcissist, who was difficult to work with. Second, he told me he […]



Realness is the perfect illusion. In “Paris Is Burning” the illusion is held up to the “the great white way of looking.” Flaws have been erased and behaviors modified. Scarry says we exist in a world based not on truth but on fictions. When I think about “real world” data in healthcare, I think about real […]


“Paris is Burning” and “Makers”

I wonder if the contemporary “Maker” movement would welcome the community of “Paris is Burning” into their embrace? What about the drag queens on Ru Paul’s Drag Race? Would they be welcome at Maker Faire?   Are these people “Makers?” Abso-fucking-lutely.   Everyone is so damn crafty: designing, sewing, ironing, constructing — that’s making, right? […]


Under Construction

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” — Nelson Mandela How we […]


Alarming Don Norman

Every morning, I am awoken by the metronomic beeps of my Braun BNC008BK LCD Quartz Alarm Clock. Although I would dearly love to hit snooze, I dare not. This is because the snooze button and the ‘Alarm On/Off’ button are inlaid into one another – to blindly grope for the former is to run the significant risk […]


An Appeal For Play

It’s hard not to identify with Sianne Ngai’s Zany, Cute, Interesting as someone trying to find the middle ground between structure and playfulness. I’d ague that Ngai finds something compelling as she defines zaniness as “an aesthetic about performing as not just artful play but affective labor.” This rings bells, given how often rules in […]


Romantic-Comedy — Cute-Zany

I’ve never laughed aloud at a film as much as I did the first time I saw The Philadelphia Story. With physical comedy, Katharine Hepburn’s sass as leading lady, and an oddball diva child driving her hungover uncle in a miniature horse trap — it’s my kind of rom-com. What struck me as I read Sianne Ngai’s text […]



Interrogating the real in “real world” data is an aesthetic inquiry. Taking up that idea, at least as a possibility, when reading Sianne Ngai’s text allowed for identifying the aesthetic category of my thesis. Real world data might be aesthetically interesting. Ngai defines the interesting as concerned with circulation, realism, documentation, coolness, systems of transmitting information, and […]


Korean Women in Zany

  You can easily find zany people on the street in NYC. They keep walking; but at the same time, they are checking their emails, listening to music, and dropping metro card from their pocket. Sienna Ngai, the author of Our Aesthetic Categories, explains the status of “zaniness” by connecting with contemporary’s commodity production. She […]



“Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.”  – Jane Jacobs South African cities were as they are now were designed and created for one group of people and by one group of people. Townships formed the spaces where everyone else had to live […]