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SVA MFA Design Criticism: a few spaces remain for Fall 2012
School of Visual Arts (SVA)
Above: Applied Thesis Projects by SVA MFA Design Criticism students.
Above: Applied Thesis Projects by SVA MFA Design Criticism students.

SVA MFA Design Criticism is accepting applications for Fall 2012 through the summer, as space allows.

Present your work at a major NYC conference sharing the stage with Change Observer co-editor Julie Lasky, Pentagram partner Michael Bierut, and Harvard’s metaLAB director Jeffrey Schnapp; edit a D-Crit Chapbook and launch it with readings at Bumble and bumble; create original segments in a Radio and Podcasting Workshop with PRI’s “Studio 360” host Kurt Andersen; delve into design archives with author Steve Heller; interview Lewis Lapham and Gay Talese in Adam Harrison Levy’s Art of the Interview course; develop and launch a blog with New York Observer editor-in-chief Elizabeth Spiers; and learn essential writing skills working with D-Crit faculty members including Ralph Caplan, Justin Davidson, Akiko Busch, and Andrea Codrington Lippke.

The SVA MFA in Design Criticism is a two-year graduate program devoted to the study and practice of design criticism, and to experimentation with ways to engage the broadest possible audience in the deepest implications of design. The program is suited to anyone who wants to learn how to write compellingly about images, objects, and spaces. Students come to the SVA MFA in Design Criticism 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.

Graduates of the program go on to work as design researchers, editors, educators, authors, curators, managers, critics, and journalists. They are employed by DomusWeb, Bjarke Ingels Group, Curbed Detroit, Etsy.com, Metropolis, Architect’s Newspaper, Project Projects, Wert & Co., Vitra Design Museum, Philip Johnson Glass House, Rutgers University, Pratt Institute, RISD, and SVA, among others. Some have set up their own design research and writing consultancies. They have won prizes including the Winterhouse Design Writing Student Award, the Design History Society Essay Prize, and the 25,000 USD AOL Grant Program.

The program’s core curriculum is augmented by the specialist knowledge of more than 40 visiting critics and lecturers each semester. Recent guests include The New York Times senior critic and chief architecture critic Michael Kimmelman; public radio producer and writer Starlee Kine; Center for Urban Pedagogy founder Damon Rich; urbanism critic Witold Rybczynski; and cutural critic Cintra Wilson. In addition to a robust daily schedule of seminars, lectures, workshops, and field trips, each student has a workstation in the light-filled Design Criticism studio in New York’s Chelsea district, and 24-hour access to department resources.

Design Criticism MFA students spend a year developing a thesis and then pick a media platform through which to connect their core argument with their projected audience. This year’s crop of Applied Thesis Projects includes: a pop-up Grocery store to exhibit examples of phony food packaging; a Digital Popsicle Machine for spreading the word about the best technology-enhanced toys; a dating site for lonely typographers through which they can communicate with one another typographically; a workout circuit that brings athletes closer to New York’s architecture; an augmented reality app for inserting guns into the MoMA design collection; a house tour of the simulated room settings in hipster home stores; and a hip hop mixtape to act as audio guide to New York’s most storied Public Housing Projects.

At least three Applied Thesis Projects from the past two years of graduates are being realized: the Sites of Memory Project, a website and set of mobile audio guides to sites of forgotten memorials in New York City, with narration by Luc Sante, Lewis Lapham, and Kurt Andersen, is set to launch this summer; the Kaflab Foundation uses design as a way to help Arabs reclaim and redefine their identities; and Bio Design, a book about the ways in which design is inspired and shaped by biology will be published by Thames & Hudson this fall.

How will you use an MFA in Design Criticism? For more inspiration, and information on how to apply, please visit dcrit.sva.edu.

June 4, 2012