Alice Twemlow is chair and co-founder of the SVA MFA Design Criticism program. Twemlow is a contributor to Design Observer and writes about design for publications including Eye, Design & Culture, and The New York Times Magazine. She is the author of What is Graphic Design For? (Rotovision) and of essays for books such as The Barnbrook Bible and 60 Innovators: Shaping Our Creative Futures (Thames and Hudson), and the catalogue for “Graphic Design Worlds” at La Triennale Design Museum. She has directed several national conferences for AIGA and moderated conferences such as the Tasmeem Doha Conference 2011 at Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar, the College Art Association Conference 2011 Conference in New York, and “Abstract: The Future of Design in Media Conference” in Portland Maine. Alice has recently given lectures at the ICOGRADA conference in Beijing, the QT series at MoMA, and at AIGA Chicago.
Spend two weeks in the School of Visual Arts MFA Design Criticism studio this summer learning how to write compellingly about images, objects, spaces, and infrastructure. The Design Writing and Research Intensive offers students and working professionals—designers and writers alike—a unique opportunity to study closely with leading writers, editors, and critics, and to refine their skills as thinkers, researchers, and storytellers.
Participants will learn essential research and writing techniques, and then develop several projects in media ranging from tweets and video essays to manifestos, personal essays, and articles, culminating in a collaboratively produced publication. By the end of the program, participants will have completed several pieces of writing, contributed to a publication, formulated ideas for stories, and garnered a robust set of tools and approaches for writing authoritatively and imaginatively about design.
A tightly programmed daily schedule of seminars, lectures, writing workshops, and one-on-one tutorials will be supplemented with site visits, design studio tours, and exhibition openings, allowing participants to directly interact with prominent designers, architects, urban planners, and curators.
Each participant will have a workstation in the beautiful, light-filled D-Crit studio in New York City’s Chelsea district, and 24-hour access to department resources.
Faculty and lecturers include: Neil Donnelly, Steven Heller, Karrie Jacobs, Jennifer Kabat, Adam Harrison Levy, Robin Pogrebin, Alice Twemlow, Rob Walker, Mimi Zeiger.
Studio visits include: Antenna Design, frog, Kiss Me I’m Polish, Emily Oberman at Pentagram, Mary Ping, Sagmeister & Walsh, Streng.
- Steven Heller
- Karrie Jacobs
- Jennifer Kabat
- Adam Harrison Levy
- Robin Pogrebin
- Alice Twemlow
- Rob Walker
- Mimi Zeiger
Steven Heller is the co-chair (with Lita Talarico) of the MFA Design / Designer as Author + Entrepreneur program and the SVA Masters Workshop in Rome. He writes the Visuals column for The New York Times Book Review, a weekly column for The Atlantic online and The Daily Heller / Imprint online. He has written more than 140 books on graphic design, illustration, and political art, including The Design Entrepreneur (with Lita Talarico), Paul Rand, Merz to Emigre and Beyond: Avant Garde Magazine Design of the Twentieth Century, Design Literacy: Understanding Graphic Design, Citizen Designer, Iron Fists: Branding the 20th Century Totalitarian State. He is a contributing editor for Print, Baseline, Design Observer, and Eye. Heller is the recipient of the Art Directors Club Special Educators Award, the AIGA Medal for Lifetime Achievement, the School of Visual Arts’ Masters Series Award and the 2011 National Design Award for “Design Mind.”
Karrie Jacobs is contributing editor at Metropolis magazine where she writes a monthly column, “America,” about how ideas and strategies in architecture and design play out on the landscape, and is a regular contributor to Travel + Leisure, where she writes about destinations of interest to the architectural tourist. She is author of The Perfect $100,000 House: A Trip Across America and Back in Pursuit of a Place to Call Home (Viking, 2006), a book about housing in America. Between 1999 and 2002 Karrie was the founding editor in chief of Dwell, a San Francisco-based magazine about modern residential architecture and design. Prior to launching Dwell, Karrie served as the architecture critic of New York Magazine, and she has written about design, technology, and visual language for many periodicals including The New York Times, I.D. Magazine, and Fortune. And in the early 1990s, Jacobs was the founding executive editor of Benetton’s Colors Magazine.
Jennifer Kabat is a writer whose journalism and criticism has appeared in publications from the Financial Times to The Guardian, Wired, Wallpaper*, Condé Nast Traveler, Frieze, New York, The Rumpus, Salon, and Metropolis where she’s a contributing editor. Her novel Our Greater Selves grew out of a story that was a finalist for Glimmer Train’s short story award for new writers, and “As If I Could Assume Your Life” was the only story by an unpublished writer in the British anthology X-24 Unclassified, edited by Tash Aw. She did graduate work in art history at Columbia University and attended the Whitney Independent Study Program. In 2003 she received an MA with honors in creative writing from the University of East Anglia supported by a grant from the British government. Additionally she’s developed innovative brand strategies and worked on marketing projects for major companies like Nike, Converse, Johnnie Walker, and Apple, and teaches creative writing in her community in the Catskills.
Robin Pogrebin has been a reporter at The New York Times since 1995. As a culture reporter she covers arts institutions, architecture and other issues. She previously covered the magazine industry for the Business Section and city news for the Metro Section. Prior to joining The Times, Robin worked as an associate producer for Peter Jennings’ documentary unit at ABC News. Before that, she was a staff reporter at The New York Observer. She has also written freelance articles for various publications including Vogue, Departures, Architectural Digest and New York Magazine and her work has been featured in several anthologies. She teaches a journalism seminar at Riverdale Country School. Robin has a BA from Yale University. She lives in New York City with her husband and their two children.
Rob Walker is a technology and culture columnist for Yahoo News and a blogger at Design Observer, and until 2013 wrote The New York Times Magazine’s Consumed column. He is the author of Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are (Random House, 2008), Letters From New Orleans (Garrett County Press, 2005) and the co-editor with Joshua Glenn of Significant Objects: 100 Extraordinary Stories About Ordinary Things (Fantagraphics, 2012). Walker is the co-founder, with Ellen Susan and G.K. Darby, of The Hypothetical Development Organization, and founding collaborator of the Unconsumption project, and is often called on as an expert commentator on the subject of material culture and branding, notably in the documentary Objectified.
Mimi Zeiger is editor and publisher of loud paper, a zine and blog dedicated to increasing the volume of architectural discourse. She is a founding member of #lgnlgn, a think tank on architecture and publishing. The group’s work has been shown at Urban Design Week, the New Museum, Storefront for Art and Architecture, pinkcomma gallery, and the AA School. As a writer and critic, she covers art, architecture, and design for a number of publications including The New York Times, Domus, Dwell, and Architect, where she is a contributing editor. Zeiger is author of New Museums, Tiny Houses, and Micro Green: Tiny Houses in Nature. Always obsessed with the intersection of architecture and media, she is Director of Communications at Woodbury School of Architecture in Burbank. As a teacher, her cross-disciplinary seminars explore the relationships between architecture, art, urban space, and popular culture.
Project 1: Narrative Strategies for Objects, instructed by Rob Walker and Adam Harrison Levy
Rob Walker will lecture on how to develop narratives around objects, while Adam Harrison Levy will lecture on research methods. Students will engage in close observation, archive research, and other means of data gathering, and then experiment with strategies to illuminate an object’s significance through storytelling.
Project 2: Studio Profiles, instructed by Adam Harrison Levy and Jennifer Kabat
This project launches with lectures on Reporting and Interviewing Skills. Students will then perform exercises to develop their interviewing techniques, prepare questions, and do background research, before visiting some of New York’s most prominent design studios in the fields of architecture, interaction design, graphic design, fashion design, and product design. Each student will interview the principal designer and write a studio profile for critique in a mid-Intensive review session.
Project 3: Exhibition Reviews
Students will be introduced to the principles of reviewing across genres and across media, with a focus on the exhibition review as a type. After some initial exercises to hone writing skills, the development of a point of view and argument, and some reading exercises to examine exemplars of the form, students will visit a selection of design exhibitions, and meet and interview their curators, before writing their own reviews, and presenting them for critique.
Project 4: Platform Project, instructed by Mimi Zeiger
Contemporary design writing is no longer confined to essays and reviews published in newspapers, journals, and magazines. Increasingly it finds platforms in digital formats such as Twitter, blogs, and downloadable PDFs. This course will focus on how these alternate formats prove the perfect platform for topical and experimental design discourse. Intensive participants will collaborate to produce a publication featuring their best work to be launched on the final day of the Intensive.
10 AM–12 PM
Introductory Talk: Alice Twemlow
Platform Project Introduction: Mimi Zeiger
Paul Lukas—Show & Tell: Turning Objects into Narratives Lecture and Writing Exercises
Object Writing Exercises and Critique
Critics: Paul Lukas, Steven Heller, Alice Twemlow
Lecture on Research: Steven Heller
SVA Archive Visit & Library Tour: Beth Kleber
Visit Alex Kalman’s Museum, Cortlandt Alley
The Art of the Interview: Adam Harrison Levy
Reporting and Writing Design Studio Profiles: Jennifer Kabat
Interviewing & Reporting Exercises
Studio Visits & Interviews
Studio Visits & Interviews
Platform Project: Mimi Zeiger
Present and Critique Object Stories
Exhibition and Guided Tour (Ellen Lupton): “Graphic Design: Now in Production,” Governor’s Island
10 AM–12 PM
Lecture on Urban Curation: Karrie Jacobs
Site Visit: Times Square
Documentation Exercises & Critique
Critique Studio Profiles: Jennifer Kabat
Critique Studio Profiles: Adam Harrison Levy
Waterfront Writing Workshop: Justin Davidson
Platform Project: Mimi Zeiger
Platform Publication Launch and Reception
2012 Intensive Participants Show
2012 Intensive Participants
Murrye Bernard (writings) is a New York-based architecture and design writer. She holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree, is a candidate for architectural licensure, and is also a LEED Accredited Professional. Her work appears in publications including Architectural Record, Architect, Eco-Structure, Buildipedia, USA Today and Design Bureau. Additionally, Murrye serves as a contributing editor to Contract magazine and the AIA New York Chapter’s newsletter, e-Oculus. She is participating in the Summer Intensive to refocus her career goals while honing skills in interviewing, researching, analyzing and critical writing. Outside of her writing career, she enjoys traveling, particularly to Italy and Mexico. www.murryebernard.com
Garreth Blackwell (writings) graduated with an M.A. in journalism from the University of Mississippi, and then joined the faculty at the Meek School of Journalism to teach courses in visual communication and photography. As a freelance designer, Garreth formed Wide Open Air, a firm founded on principles of social design. His projects range from school bond issues and community design initiatives to the endeavors of an international pearl company. Currently based in Richmond, Garreth is a second-year student in Virginia Commonwealth University’s interdisciplinary doctoral program in Media, Art, and Text. As a side project, he currently is developing ThisIsOurVA.com to mobilize community in the Richmond area. Garreth is attending the Summer Intensive to better understand and critique the ways in which design impacts us both personally and societally. When not reading for classes, Garreth enjoys craft beer and pickup games of soccer.
Alexandria Brown (writings) received a Bachelor of Arts in Art History and a Minor in History of the Built Environment from the University of California, Berkeley. While originally from the faded Art Deco streets of sun-baked Miami, she prefers the cold winds of Eastern Europe where she studied the formation of Post-Soviet identity through architecture in Budapest, Hungary. Undergraduate research on preservation versus destruction of architectural manifestations of history continues to fuel Alexandria’s interest in the relationship between architecture and memory. Alexandria has worked for Surface magazine, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, and currently works as a Marketing and Research Coordinator for the San Francisco office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM). She is attending the Summer Intensive to improve her writing and to meet others that hold similar lenses with which to see the world.
Irene Chin (writings) holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Pratt Institute and is currently based in Chicago where she freelances as an exhibitions preparator at various university museums and contemporary art galleries. It was while studying in New York and interning at the Storefront of Art and Architecture that she began to foster an interest in non-profit organizations. She hopes to build upon her design background and work experience, and develop her critical voice at SVA this summer as she continues to pursue a career in the public arts sector. She has studied abroad in Rome with Pratt and at Hooke Park with the AA School of Architecture. While traveling, she seeks out museums, sculpture parks, and land art sites, recently having visited Arcosanti. She is planning a trip to Marfa for the end of this year. (blog/twitter)
Daniel Cole (writings) is a designer residing in Richmond, Virginia. His interests center around social design, education, and curation. He is a candidate for the MFA in Visual Communications at Virginia Commonwealth University. His penchant is for collecting very old, and sometimes, very smelly books and artifacts.
Line Ulrika Christiansen (writings) is Director of Design Foundation at VCUQatar. Educated as an interaction designer, she worked several years leading projects at the e1 (Exhibition Unit) of the Interaction Design Institute Ivrea. In 2005, she became a co-founder and partner of Id-Lab in Milan. She has exhibited at the V&A Museum, La Triennale di Milano, La Biennale di Venezia, and at the Biennale of Contemporary Art in Seville. Line travels worldwide to international design institutions to teach and lecture her design ideology, design=fiction. She joins the Summer Intensive to explore views of contemporary design, strengthen a critical perspective, and fuel her current fixation connecting the fictional super heroine with the real-life ones in today’s Arab world.
Emma de Crespigny (writings) has a BA in Film and Philosophy and is finishing a Master’s in History of Decorative Art and Design at Cooper-Hewitt/Parsons The New School. She has spent the last eight years working for Alan Moss, whose store specializes in luxurious decorative arts. About to write her thesis (on the use of art deco symbolism in movies of late 1920s and early 1930s and its reflection and impact on modernist ideals), she joins the Design Writing and Research Summer Intensive to strengthen her writing skills, after after being out of practice for a ten-year period. Outside of design, Emma is interested in film, theater, and collecting vintage fashion and twentieth-century decorative art.
Brandy Gibbs-Riley (writings) holds a BA in Studio Art from Bates College and an MFA in Graphic Design from Boston University. She is Associate Professor of Design at Colby-Sawyer College, where she teaches courses on graphic design and design history. She has been an active designer for over sixteen years, working with clients such as Siemens, Humanscale, and the Industrial Designers Society of America. Over the past seven years, Brandy has collaborated with author and historian Alston Purvis on projects including Meggs’ History of Graphic Design fifth edition, for which she served as research associate, curator, editor, and co-author of new material. She is attending the Design Summer Intensive to learn different approaches to writing about design, as she is currently embarking upon new projects of her own. Brandy also loves mid-century furniture, lighting design, painting, printmaking, classical music, and jazz.
Nicole Lavelle (writings) has lived one half her life on the salty shores of San Francisco and one half in the wet green of Oregon. The mythologies and realities of the American West continue to dictate her ideologies, actions and vocabulary.* Nicole received her BA from Portland State University, where she studied Graphic Design and Art and Social Practice (She is currently an adjunct professor in the same program). Her projects are often considered art, design, writing, research, teaching, or walking. She is currently interested in documentation and place. Last summer she rode a bamboo bicycle from Alabama to San Francisco. She comes to the Summer Intensive with an eagerness to understand how design and place are interrelated, and to become a better writer about the discipline of which she is a part.
*Nicole uses the word “hella” on a regular basis, without a hint of irony or affect.
Laurene Leon Boym (writings) received the 2009 National Design Award in Product Design from Cooper Hewitt for her work in collaboration with partner Constantin Boym in the NYC based design consultancy, Boym Partners Inc. Utilizing an education in the plastic arts at SVA (BFA), and in design at Pratt Institute (MID), she helped turn the design industry towards a fresh designer-production model, manufacturing and selling editions like Buildings of Disaster via e-commerce webstore, as well as to private vendors such as Moss. At her core beliefs there is a punk rock DIY ethic that endorses the idea that everyone is a creator, and needs an introduction to simple methods, tools and thinking to make it happen. A native New Yorker, she has resided for the past two years in Qatar with Constantin Boym and their teenage son, Bobby. She is a regular contributor on features for T New York Times Magazine Qatar and a design columnist for Qatar Today. At the Summer Intensive, she hopes to explore a mass-market design critique for all types of media, especially for television. In her spare time she likes to home-brew kombucha, smoke cigarettes, and stand on her head.
Born in Brussels, Adrian Madlener (writings) quickly moved to the East End of Long Island where his father maintained a long-standing residency at the Jackson Pollock Studio. Growing up in a creative household, Adrian’s education focused on critical thinking rather then “teaching to test.” An early interest in architecture evolved into the decision to study industrial design at the Design Academy Eindhoven in the Netherlands. High school also introduced him to conceptual art, dance, and theater. Adrian has worked with Robert Wilson at his Watermill Center for performing arts for the past 4 years. During Adrian’s design education, his interest in theory, criticism, and gaining a more intellectual context for work developed. He believes that design a has philosophical and sociological value, not limited to the aesthetic configuration of a product.
Megan Marin (writings) is an industrial designer by day and musician by night, currently enjoying the view from Canada on this incredible spaceship that is our home! After graduating from design school last year, she decided it would be fun to start collecting professions in the same way that people collect postage stamps or state quarters. Eventually, everything does connect, and in that spirit she hopes to cultivate a job title that is a hyphen-stitched list of all of the things that are meaningful to her. Megan sees attending SVA’s Design Writing and Research Summer Intensive as the perfect way to continue adding writer-researcher-storyteller to her collection.
Susan Merritt (writings) grew up in the south, graduated from Queens College in Charlotte when it was still an all-girls school, and completed five years of graduate study at the Basel School of Design. She lived in Hawaii for five years before settling down in San Diego. Susan is a graphic designer, heads the Graphic Design program at San Diego State University, and cofounded the nonprofit Design Innovation Institute. Her interests include travel, cross-cultural design, design history, and the arts of the book, especially typography. Her handcrafted books can be found at the New York Public Library, Z. Smith Reynolds Library at Wake Forest University, and the Weingart Archive at the Museum of Design, Zürich. Susan is coauthor of The Web Design WOW! Book and author of ancillary materials for Meggs’ History of Graphic Design, edition 4. She lives with her husband Calvin in a 1912 Craftsman bungalow and collects vintage objects and furniture. Susan hopes to hone her research and writing skills and develop new approaches to teaching.
Kelly Murdoch-Kitt (writings) relocated to Berkeley, California in 2009 after completing her Master of Graphic Design degree at North Carolina State University’s College of Design. Her thesis research explored theories of situated learning and experiential elements of virtual communities. Her undergraduate degree from Wake Forest University is in fine art and theatre, and she has more than ten years of professional experience in print design. In addition to doing design research and UX strategy at San Francisco-based gotomedia, Kelly also teaches in the Design Program at University of San Francisco. In her spare time, Kelly likes taking photos, making lists, gardening, hiking, teaching yoga, and finding adventures with her husband.
Lauren Palmer (writings) is a designer, researcher and writer. She recently returned from London after pursuing a MRes in Design at Goldsmiths College. She has an MA in Textile Design from Chelsea College of Art and Design, where she was shortlisted for the Fashioning the Future Awards 2009, and a BA in Biochemistry from The City University of New York. She is looking for opportunities that allow her to explore emerging topics in design. She is interested in value systems, axiology and sustainability. By transitioning from academic writing to professional practice, Lauren hopes to develop her writing voice. She can usually be found in a bookstore or reading New York magazine with a cup of coffee.
JenJoy Robal’s (writings) career spans across sustainable design, urban planning, architecture and public art. She recently left a position at the Buckminster Fuller Institute where she ran the Buckminster Fuller Challenge, an international design competition that awards $100k to a project that is seeking to solve some of our most entrenched global problems.
Chase Stone (writings) is a graduate of Oberiln College and a candidate for the M.A. in Aesthetics and Politics at CalArts in Los Angeles. His interest in design criticism was fostered at Vitra Design: Boisbuchet, where he lived and worked with designers from around the world. Chase focuses on analyzing how the human body reacts, both physically and emotionally, to contemporary design interventions. He is looking forward to working closely with peers at the SVA D-Crit program and exploring critical lenses together. Chase also enjoys listening to house music and reading William Gibson novels.
Caroline Tiger (writings) is a Philadelphia-based freelance journalist, author, and blogger who has been writing professionally since 1999. She worked in book and magazine publishing after studying literature and art history at the University of Pennsylvania. Her journalism career began at a general interest magazine, where she followed her curiosity from story to story. Eventually she found herself writing story after story on design. Caroline’s book credits include a biography of Isamu Noguchi for young adults and City Walks: Philadelphia (Chronicle Books). At SVA, Caroline is excited to meet some like-minded folks, expand her professional opportunities, and take a break from writing to focus on her writing.
Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis with a priority deadline of April 1, 2013. Early application is highly recommended.
Priority date for placing enrollment fee is April 19.
Tuition is $2,000.
How to Apply
Email the following materials to email@example.com:
- Completed application form
- Work sample (see guidelines below)
- Statement of purpose (250–500 words)
Work Sample Guidelines
Writing sample: Up to 2,000 words of published or unpublished writing (such as essays, blog posts, or articles) about design, architecture, or related subjects (.doc or .pdf file)
International applicants are welcome, however, the College cannot provide any I-20 or other forms to nonmatriculated students, so it is your responsibility to speak with your consulate to determine the proper means of traveling to the United States. SVA cannot provide you with a visa, nor assist you in obtaining one. Applicants are expected to have fluency in English sufficient for engaging in meaningful dialogue with other participants.
A $1,000 nonrefundable deposit is required upon acceptance to the program. Full tuition is due two weeks prior to the start of the program. There will be no refunds once the program begins.
To withdraw from the program you must notify Keren Moscovitch, Assistant Director of Continuing Education, in writing, of your intention to withdraw. You may do so by e-mailing your withdrawal to firstname.lastname@example.org; or by sending written notification via mail or fax. The Division of Continuing education is located at 209 East 23rd Street. All refunds for payment made by American Express, Discover, MasterCard or Visa, will be credited to the appropriate credit card account. Payment made by check or money order will be refunded by check, payable to the registrant. Processing of refunds takes approximately four weeks.
If you have questions about your application, or would like to visit the D-Crit dept. contact us at 212 592 2228 or email@example.com.