Products of Design


Blog

The PoD blog shares student projects, department news, events and snapshots of student life from the MFA Products of Design program at SVA in New York City.

"Life at Products of Design": A New Film by Michael Chung

"Life at Products of Design": A New Film by Michael Chung

Michael Chung, celebrated film maker and faculty member, just put the finishing touches on a new film about student life here at the MFA Products of Design program. We have always been huge fans of Michael's work, and were thrilled to engage him in putting together a video that would simultaneously show what it was like to be a student in the program, along with providing a broad representation of the kinds of people who, well, "live here." We asked Michael about challenges of the project, along with the role that video now plays in the designer's toolkit.

MASTERS THESIS: Enough is the New More: Reframing Scarcity to Feel Like Abundance, by Steve Hamilton

MASTERS THESIS: Enough is the New More: Reframing Scarcity to Feel Like Abundance, by Steve Hamilton

Steve Hamilton’s master’s thesis, Enough is the New More: Reframing Scarcity to Feel Like Abundance, began with a manifesto of dialectics, eschewing our persistently growth-based metric for success, rejecting the last several centuries of western economic culture that led to the consumerization of happiness in the United States, and offering a more humane and sustainable alternative. His early research centered around a plethora of “wicked problems”—including those pertaining to vastly embedded systemic structures such as energy, materials, transportation, and the design of our cities—and culminated in a set of radical artifacts that speculate on an alternative future.

MASTERS THESIS: Gowanus Outdoors Club: A Field Guide to Soliphilia, by Julia Plevin

MASTERS THESIS: Gowanus Outdoors Club: A Field Guide to Soliphilia, by Julia Plevin

Design strategist and storyteller Julia Plevin did not realize how much of an effect the environment had on her wellbeing before she moved to New York City to attend the Products of Design program and found herself yearning for nature. After a harsh New York City winter left her depressed and out of whack, she realized that she suffered from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). And she realized she was not alone. According to the National Institute of Health, 6% of the U.S. population suffers from seasonal affective disorder and 14% of the U.S. population suffers from winter blues. These numbers are even larger if you consider many Americans live in places like California or Florida that do not have long, cold winters. 

MASTERS THESIS: "Disclosional": Creating Conversation Around, In, and Outside HIV, by Heath Wagoner

MASTERS THESIS: "Disclosional": Creating Conversation Around, In, and Outside HIV, by Heath Wagoner

Heath Wagoner’s master’s thesis, Disclosional: Creating Conversation Around, In, and Outside HIV, centers around HIV and the role of conversation. Acknowledging that oftentimes “a conversation is simply not enough,” Heath argues that in the case of HIV, it is imperative. Disclosional is aimed at making communicating about HIV status easier, and to remove its stigma. Heath’s thesis work began with him volunteering at the Lower East Side Harm Reduction Center (LESHRC) in New York, and ended with a participatory and immersive exhibition and an educational app.

MASTERS THESIS: Uplift: Happiness & Communication in the Context of Cancer, by Berk Ilhan

MASTERS THESIS: Uplift: Happiness & Communication in the Context of Cancer, by Berk Ilhan

Berk Ilhan’s master’s thesis, Uplift, addresses the quality of life of cancer patients—identifying opportunities that cultivate joy and happiness, and strengthening the support group around the patient. Based on his hypothesis that, through design, joy and humor can positively change most experiences—and inspired by the revolutionary physician Hunter Doherty (popularly known as “Patch Adams”), advocate of humor, fun, and love in healthcare—Berk’s work re-imagines hospital and outpatient experiences beyond conventional boundaries.

MASTERS THESIS: It's Chinese To Me, by Lusha Huang

MASTERS THESIS: It's Chinese To Me, by Lusha Huang

Lusha Huang’s master’s thesis, It’s Chinese to me: Luck and Cultural Empathy, explores the disconnect between Chinese an American culture. As a Chinese student in an international design department, Lusha enthusiastically took on the role of messenger—eager to share her country’s tradition and philosophy with others. Her over-arching goal is to build a cultural bridge, fostering understanding between Americans and Chinese. Central to her thesis is the theme of luck, which dates back to ancient China and has always been extremely important to Chinese culture.

MASTERS THESIS: Things, by Elisa Werbler

MASTERS THESIS: Things, by Elisa Werbler

Elisa Werbler’s master’s thesis, Things, explores how we ascribe value to our everyday possessions. It examines the things we cherish from our past, the things that signify our relationships with others, the things we consume, the things we share, and the things we can’t bear to part with. Western society suffers from an affliction known as “loss-aversion”—the pain of losing something is greater than the pleasure of gaining something. This term, coined by world renowned psychologist Daniel Kahneman, goes hand in hand with what’s known as “the endowment effect”—the idea that something is more valuable to you than anyone else, simply because it’s yours. The combination of these two ideas led Werbler down a path of trying to pinpoint the exact moment when a decision is being made about something, whether it is in anticipation of a purchase, or an attempt to let go.

SE2OND Thesis Presentations: Opening Remarks, by Allan Chochinov

SE2OND Thesis Presentations: Opening Remarks, by Allan Chochinov

A the start of the second MFA Products of Design thesis presentations, aptly named "SE2OND", chair Allan Chochinov welcomes guests, talks about the philosophy and process of the the department's unique approach to the thesis, and provides thanks to the many people who made the projects possible. 

MASTERS THESIS: The Spectacle, by Brandon Washington

MASTERS THESIS: The Spectacle, by Brandon Washington

Brandon Washington's master's thesis, The Spectacle, is an investigation into Guy Debord's theory of the same name and how it relates to contemporary society. The spectacle is a communication tool that employs fantasy in order to sell the idea of how we should live our lives, and what we should aspire to be.