School of Visual Arts—MFA Design Criticism
School of Visual Arts (SVA)
Above: Present Tense: The 2011 Design Criticism Conference
Above: Present Tense: The 2011 Design Criticism Conference

SVA MFA Design Criticism is accepting applications for Fall 2011 on a rolling admissions basis through the summer, as space allows.


Present your work at a major NYC conference on stage with Paola Antonelli, senior curator of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art, John Seabrook, staff writer at The New Yorker and Rob Walker, contributing writer to The New York Times Magazine; edit a D-Crit Chapbook with author Akiko Busch and launch it with a readings event at the New York Times building; create original segments in a Radio and Podcasting Workshop with PRI’s “Studio 360″ host Kurt Andersen; learn investigative journalism techniques with Change Observer editor Julie Lasky; drink Martinis with Gay Talese in the department library during an Art of the Interview course; develop and launch a blog with New York Observer editor-in-chief Elizabeth Spiers; and find your critical voice with other D-Crit faculty members including Ralph Caplan, Justin Davidson, and Andrea Codrington Lippke.


D-Crit’s core curriculum, which trains students to interrogate and evaluate design, architecture, and urban infrastructure, is augmented by the specialist knowledge of more than 40 visiting critics and lecturers each semester. Recent guests include Pentagram partner Michael Bierut, Los Angeles Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne, Cooper-Hewitt director Bill Moggridge, visual arts critic Lawrence Weschler, design editor of T: The New York Times Style Magazine Pilar Viladas, fashion historian and FIT Museum curator Valerie Steele, and digital and pop culture critic Virginia Heffernan.


We welcome applicants from a range of academic backgrounds whose diverse experiences enrich the debate. The program is suited to anyone with a passionate interest in design and its social implications.  Students come to D-Crit to deepen their understanding of the designed environment, to hone their skills in writing and critical thinking, to work alongside New York’s best-respected editors, authors, critics, and historians, and to communicate their unique perspectives through a range of media, including exhibitions, radio podcasts, events, blogs, and books. For more information on how to apply, please visit


Applause for D-Crit Graduates


May 4 marked the program’s second annual graduating conference at the Visual Arts Theatre in New York City. “Present Tense: The 2011 D-Crit Conference” featured the Class of 2011 who presented distilled versions of their theses on stage and keynote speaker Rob Walker delivered a keynote address on what role imagination, speculation, and outright fiction might play in understanding and critiquing material culture. In the evening, a panel, comprising MoMA’s Paola Antonelli, BIG’s founder and architect Bjarke Ingels, Van Alen Institute’s executive director Olympia Kazi, The New Yorker‘s John Seabrook and Fast Company‘s Linda Tischler, debated the new locations, formats, and priorities of design criticism, in addition to other issues at stake for graduates about to embark on careers as editors, writers, managers, exhibition or event organizers, curators, teachers, filmmakers, radio presenters, and administrators.


View videos of all the presentations and photos from the event at, and read excerpts of 2011 graduates’ writing in At Water’s Edge, the first in our series of chapbooks, available for purchase or free download at


2011 and 2010 D-Crit graduates have landed positions as U.S. editor at DomusWeb, researcher at Bjarke Ingels Group, blogger at Metropolis, managing editor at Architect’s Newspaper, and fellows at the Philip Johnson Glass House and Eric Fischl’s Art in America. They have won prizes including the Winterhouse Design Writing Student Award and the 25,000 USD AOL Grant Program “25 for 25″ groundbreaking thinkers. Read more about D-Crit students and their accolades at




Images from “Present Tense: The 2011 Design Criticism Conference”: A panel, comprising Paola Antonelli, Bjarke Ingels, Olympia Kazi, John Seabrook, Linda Tischler, and Rob Walker, debates the priorities, possibilities, and impact of design criticism; Kimberlie Birks, a graduating D-Crit student, speaks about the shortcomings of New York City playground design; students, speakers, and attendees gather for the conference reception hosted by GD Cucine.



May 23, 2011