The MFA in Products of Design is a two-year, immersive program that prepares exceptional practitioners for leadership in the shifting terrain of design.
Designers aren’t in the artifact business anymore, they’re in the consequence business. Design has transformed the world. Now the world is demanding the transformation of designers. The contemporary design challenge of production and consumption demands new approaches to industrial-age methodologies and orthodoxies. What we consider the “products of design” are expanding beyond the industrial design, mass-produced object, encompassing instructional, interventional, narrative, experiential, and speculative possibilities—all aimed at creating the new types of value that catalyze positive change.
More and more we are recognizing that designed artifacts—be they sets of instructions, posters, social interventions, services, digital interactions, crafts, hacks, mods, short-runs, manufactures on demand, mass productions, critical design, design fictions or design art—need to be integrated more deeply into the value of human life and its prospects. Through a combination of design thinking, design making, and design doing, we immerse our participants in hands-on physical exploration, rigorous investigation, and strategic intent—helping them explore, discover and define the kinds of value required for progress and prosperity.
SVA’s MFA in Products of Design Department is itself a “product of design”: It responds to the current explosion of creative investigation around making, meaning, and the role of objects in our culture. It acknowledges the radical shifts taking place in the classic profession of industrial design itself: progressive changes in the processes of product design—from specialized ethnographic research to strategic business consulting. We see new urgencies in the need to reconcile the material, energy, environmental, and cultural consequences of design inherent in the imperatives of production and consumption. We see a great expansion in the participants of design—from anthropologists and behavioral psychologists to materials experts and systems specialists. And finally, we see increased interest from both the mainstream as well as business press around the power of design—to fix problems, to create value, to reinvent businesses, and to address vital social and environmental challenges.
The program is optimistic and generous, putting a high value on point of view and personal passion. Instead of a group of practitioners in the service of industry, we see designers as the connective tissue of our built environments: they translate between stakeholders, reframe problems, reveal opportunities, render the invisible visible, and champion change. It is through scale that they wield their power and earn their keep, and that’s what makes them both privileged and dangerous, optimistic and powerful.
Products of Design is for students who want to develop a strong point of view and professional readiness for new value creation. Through the making-based exploration of systems thinking, emerging science and materials, social cooperation and public life, students will develop the skills and fluency to become leaders who create positive consequence—equipped with the confidence, experience, and network to fill senior positions at top design firms and progressive organizations, to create ingenious enterprises of their own, and to become lifelong advocates for the power of design.
We invite you to join us.