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

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New York, NY 10011





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“Paris is Burning” and “Makers” – SVA MA Design Research

Paul Olmer

“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? Or is it?


Are we talking about 3D printing, code, and arduino or custom bustiers and one-of-a-kind t-shirts with the perfect neckline? Are they different?


If we want to celebrate the act of making, then they aren’t different.


If we want to celebrate something else, then lets confront that and say it out loud.


Regardless of Dale Dougherty’s assertion that his “goal is that all people, young and old, come to see themselves as makers, creators and doers” it certainly feels like he means more arduino and less bustier.




The maker movement isn’t welcoming as it could be to people – all people. It needs to stretch from a tech-centered, mostly male, mostly white community. Or it could change the language it uses to a more humble, more realistic reflection of their values.


The site for Maker Faire says it “offers the opportunity for us to see ourselves as more than consumers; we are productive; we are creative. Everyone is a maker and our world is what we make it.”


Although I am comfortable with the idea that everyone has the potential to be a “maker” I do not think everyone is a maker, or should be. As Debbie Chachra says in “Why I Am Not A Maker,” there are other valuable skills that get devalued as “Making” is elevated.


I think we need to confront the romantic idea that “our world is what we make it.” Is that true? Would the young men and women in “Paris is Burning” agree?