14 THINGS THAT MATTER:

What distinguishes the MFA in Products of Design?

Most prospective students, professionals, journalists, and recruiters taking a look at our program have a lot of questions about what makes it different. They want to know who it attracts, what the curriculum and experience are like, and what our students do after they graduate. So we put together a list of the program's 14 key ingredients.

Wondering if the MFA in Products of Design program might be right for you? Read on!

 
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1. We teach every kind of design

The Products of Design curriculum begins with the complex and the challenging on day one. We start with systems, mapping, supply chain, stewardship, services and platform thinking. We reframe problems, create brands, mock up media campaigns and press releases, model businesses, build physical prototypes, solder up circuits, share code in online platforms, and practice design research with local subjects and expert mentors. And we do all of this in the first 7 weeks.

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2. We use New York as a learning lab

Our students take classes in design research at IDEOmaterial futures at Material ConneXionuser experience at Frogsystems analysis at SYPartners, and Branding at Aruliden. They attend workshops and meet with the leadership at ground-breaking organizations from Google Creative LabsCooper-Hewitt and Etsy, to UhuruMakerbotAutodesk, and the New York Times.

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3. We prototype in THE VISIBLE FUTURES LAB.

The Visible Futures Lab, SVA’s digital and hands-on fabrication fantasy land, is located immediately next door to the Products of Design studio, so students are steps away from a state-of-the-art makerspace, an expert staff, and a huge community of graduate students from other departments at SVA.

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4. Our faculty are professionals at the top of their game

Our faculty list reads like a who’s who of Design Industry champions. From MoMA curator Paola Antonelli to Antenna Design's Masamichi Udagawa, our faculty are experts in their field, deeply involved in local and international design worlds. They are encouraged to bring their unique perspective to the program—to “teach with bias”—so that students can learn the passion and point of view required for making a difference, and the confidence and professionalism required to develop their own.

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5. Our guest Lecturers are world-renowned

From Tina "SwissMiss" Roth EisenbergMichael Bierut, and Nate Silver, to Neri OxmanAnthony DunneAimee MullinsEzio ManziniPanthea LeeTim BrownElizabeth Scharpf, and Cameron Tonkinwise, the Products of Design department hosts the leading thinkers and practitioners on the globe.


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6. Our network is broad and mighty.

Students are schooled in the importance of social capital, how to work with the media, and how to build and communicate a body of work. We introduce them to journalists, social innovators, venture capitalists, recruiters, consultants, and myriad entrepreneurs. As a result, students emerge from the program with a powerful network of contacts for work referrals, career advice, professional development and mentorship.


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8. Our studio is bright, responsive, and built for creating.

We know the environment affects the work, so we drench students in natural light and customizable space. Quiet spaces, social spaces, and an enormous kitchen allow students to feel at home and stay healthy while they work.

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7. Every student is unique.

Products of Design teaches to the individual. We honor our students' backgrounds and experiences—whether seasoned designer or professional researcher, passionate artist or resourceful hacker. Courses ask students to examine their assumptions, their prejudices, their priorities and their road to authenticity. And then we help them get there. (We also provide weekly newsletters so they don't miss a thing!)

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6. Our network is broad and mighty.

Students are schooled in the importance of social capital, how to work with the media, and how to build and communicate a body of work. We introduce them to journalists, social innovators, venture capitalists, recruiters, consultants, and myriad entrepreneurs. As a result, students emerge from the program with a powerful network of contacts for work referrals, career advice, professional development and mentorship.

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2. We don't have grades.

Part of the challenge in education is what we choose to measure. Graduate school is a time to take big risks, and worrying about grades can inhibit bravery. Our classes are pass/fail so students can feel comfortable to fail forward in their work without worrying about failing backward in the class. That said, we insist on rigorous, prescriptive protocols for documentation of student work—from process and final image sets to press- and competition-ready project descriptions. Our students start building their portfolios the first week.

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