MFA Products of Design
Design has transformed the world. Now the world is demanding the transformation of designers.
The MFA in Products of Design creates exceptional leaders for the shifting terrain of design. We educate heads, hearts and hands to reinvent systems and catalyze positive change. In our interdisciplinary MFA program, we consider everything to be a “product of design”—from sets of instructions to augmented reality, from social interventions to DIY projects and from speculative objects to design art.
The Products of Design program at SVA is itself a “product of design”—responding to the current explosion of interaction, experience and platform thinking taking place across the globe.
It acknowledges the radical shifts in the classic profession of industrial design—from digital fabrication to strategic foresight to circular economies—and embraces new urgencies around the supply chain and cultural consequences inherent in the challenges of production and consumption.
Design and designers also need a moral compass. In addition to the hard skills of design, we concentrate deeply on developing the soft skills necessary to any productive and fulfilling career—leadership and ethical practice, negotiation and team building, collaboration and point of view, and documentation and writing. By using all these tools to reframe problems and rapidly prototype possibilities, graduates emerge fortified—with the methods, the confidence, and the strong professional networks necessary to excel at top design firms and progressive organizations, to create ingenious enterprises of their own, and to become lifelong advocates for the power of design.
Why We Stand Out:
An optimistic re-imagining of the artifacts of design, reconciling the challenges of production and consumption, systems and consequence
Students use a hands-on, making-driven approach to master strategic, technical and narrative skills
Industry leaders, interdisciplinary practitioners, passionate iconoclasts and savvy entrepreneurs comprise the faculty
More About the Department
The MFA in Products of Design is a two-year integrated program dedicated to design thinking, design making and design doing. An immersive, optimistic exploration into the next artifacts of design, students in the program simultaneously engage in prototyping and debate, research and interaction, and problem framing and presentation skills.
The heart of the program is the mastering of the three fields crucial to the future of design: making, structures and narratives. Making grounds design and designers: students investigate multiple dimensions of physical design practice, its processes and the tools that enable it. Structures inform practice: students learn the information and business structures that make effective design possible: research, systems thinking, sustainability, strategy, user experience and interaction/information design. Narratives acknowledge that design demands stories—from initial idea through marketing—that are made compelling through graphic representation, point of view, drawing, writing and videography.
The department is adjacent to the state-of-the-art Visible Futures Lab, outfitted with the tools and sophisticated equipment necessary for designers to explore their ideas and realize them in three-dimensional form—from low- to high-tech, and from handmade to computer-aided rapid prototypes.
The first-year experience focuses on project-based work and new ways of thinking—both through semester-long courses and shorter studio intensives—complemented by provocative speakers and inspiring field trips.
The second year focuses on business structures, environmental stewardship, design metrics, strategy, entrepreneurship and delight. The yearlong thesis project generates change-making, multidisciplinary work around a chosen field of inquiry, resulting in a signature portfolio of prototypes, service blueprints, apps, platforms, business plans, videos and a book. A powerful professional network of advisors is built during the process, who are ready to help in the move toward professional practice. The program ends with a public celebration around the power of design.
Degree candidates must successfully complete 60 credits, including all required courses. A residency of two academic years is required. In the final year, each student completes a thesis project, which must be reviewed and approved by the thesis committee and the department chair in order for the student to be eligible for degree conferral.