September 14 – December 14

School of Visual Arts (SVA) announces the Fall 2010 lectures in the MFA Design Criticism Department. Now a fixture of the New York design community, these public programs consist of thoughtful presentations, lively Q&A sessions, and intimate receptions where designers, critics and design enthusiasts can continue the conversation with the featured speaker.

Among the speakers this fall are: design critic and curator Rick Poynor; Los Angeles Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne; Cooper-Hewitt Director Bill Moggridge; visual arts critic Lawrence Weschler; and T: The New York Times Style Magazine Design Editor Pilar Viladas.

All lectures take place at 136 West 21st Street, 2nd Floor, New York City. Admission is free and open to the public; RSVP to 212.592.2228 or

September 14: Rick Poynor, “Curating ‘Uncanny: Surrealism and Graphic Design'”

Focusing on the exhibition that Rick Poynor devised for the Moravian Gallery in Brno, this lecture will examine curating as an extension of writing and editing practices. What are the crucial similarities and differences between selection for the two-dimensional page and the space of the gallery? Poynor will consider Surrealism as a theme-why explore this topic now?-and place “Uncanny” in the international context of the many other shows on Surrealist art. He will explore how the exhibition relates to the paths of inquiry he has pursued in his critical writing and address its broader polemical purpose.
Rick Poynor was the founding editor of Eye and a co-founder of Design Observer. He has written about design and visual culture for Blueprint, Icon, Creative Review, Frieze, Financial Times, The Guardian, Adbusters, Harvard Design Magazine, Metropolis and Print. His books include the critical studies No More Rules (Yale University Press, 2003) and Jan van Toorn: Critical Practice (010 Publishers, 2008), and the essay collections Design Without Boundaries (Booth-Clibborn Editions, 1998), Obey the Giant (Birkhauser Architecture, 2001) and Designing Pornotopia (Laurence King, 2006). His latest exhibition as curator, “Uncanny: Surrealism and Graphic Design,” is showing at the Moravian Gallery in Brno in the Czech Republic until October 2010.

September 28: Interboro (Daniel D’Oca, Georgeen Theodore and Tobias Armborst), “Advocacy and Pluralism in Architecture”

In this talk Interboro will discuss its innovative, advocacy-based approach to architecture and urban planning by presenting projects old and new, including “LentSpace,” a 30,000 square foot sculpture space in lower Manhattan, “Community: The American Way of Living,” a submission to the American wing of the 2009 International Biennale Rotterdam (which Interboro co-curated), and “NORCS in NYC” a guidebook to New York City’s “Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities.”
Interboro is a New York City-based research and design group founded in 2002 by Tobias Armborst, Daniel D’Oca, and Georgeen Theodore. Through writing, teaching, and professional practice, Interboro engages with the complexity of the contemporary city. The firm has won many awards for its projects, including the New Practices Award from the AIA New York Chapter, and the Architectural League’s Young Architects Award. Its work has been exhibited at the Netherlands Architecture Institute, Walker Art Center, Museum of Contemporary Art Leipzig, Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, Center for Architecture, the Storefront for Art and Architecture, and the German Architecture Museum.

October 5: Steven Heller, “Born Modern: Alvin Lustig, Designer”

In this lecture Steven Heller reflects on Alvin Lustig’s prolific but tragically brief design career and the extent to which it epitomized the working processes, identity and preoccupations of the 20th century graphic designer. Through his genre-defining book jackets, magazines, interiors and textiles, Lustig brought the principles of modern art to bear on mid-20th century American design, and created a magnificent body of work before his untimely death in 1955 at the age of 40.

Steven Heller is author and editor of over 130 books on graphic design, satiric art and popular culture. He is co-founder and co-chair of the MFA Designer as Author program at SVA, and co-founder of the MFA Design Criticism, MFA Interaction Design, MFA Social Documentary Film and MPS Branding Departments. He writes the Visuals column for The New York Times Book Review and “Graphic Content” for the T-Style/The Moment blog. One of his most recent books is Born Modern: The Life and Design of Alvin Lustig (Chronicle Books, 2010) with Elaine Lustig Cohen.

October 12: Felicity D. Scott, “Non-Communication: Bernard Rudofsky and the Empire of Signs”
This lecture will revisit Austrian émigré architect Bernard Rudofsky’s reflections on questions of legibility in architectural form and graphic design during the 1950s, or more specifically his thoughts on how they might be pushed to the limits of their functionality. Emerging in the context of his encounter with modernity in Japan, Rudofsky imagined prospects for an entropic paradigm of communication breakdown, articulating possibilities for a visually unstable, disorienting and multiplicitous environment of signification.

Felicity D. Scott is director of the program in Critical, Curatorial and Conceptual Practices in Architecture (CCCP) at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Columbia University. She is a founding co-editor of Grey Room, a journal of architecture, art, media, and politics published quarterly by MIT Press since Fall 2000. Her book, Architecture or Techno-Utopia: Politics After Modernism, was published by MIT Press in 2007, and Living Archive 7: Ant Farm, appeared on ACTAR Editorial in May 2008. Her book on Rudofsky, entitled Cartographies of Drift: Bernard Rudofsky’s Encounters with Modernity is nearly complete and her subsequent book-project, Outlaw Territory, investigates architecture’s relation to “human unsettlement” and territorial insecurity.

October 26: Christopher Hawthorne, “The Plume: Architecture Under a Cloud”

Christopher Hawthorne will discuss the prospects for architecture-and architecture criticism-in an era of economic uncertainty and ecological upheaval. How can architecture maintain its relevance in a culture drained of capital for new construction, and facing new environmental catastrophes on a depressingly regular basis? And how should architecture critics react to these new realities? Part of the answer lies in renovating some old or overlooked concepts in architecture and criticism, including the vacant, the temporary and the slightly worn.

Christopher Hawthorne is architecture critic for the Los Angeles Times, where he writes about new and old buildings, sustainability, planning, transit and the lives of cities. He was previously architecture critic for Slate. His writing has also appeared in The New Yorker, New York Magazine, The Washington Post, Domus, Volume, Metropolis, ReadyMade, Architectural Record, Harvard Design Magazine and many other publications. With Alanna Stang, he is the author of The Green House: New Directions in Sustainable Architecture (Princeton Architectural Press, 2005).

November 2: Bill Moggridge, “The Role of Collecting, Curating and Education in the Context of a National Design Museum”

In this talk Bill Moggridge, named head of the Cooper-Hewitt museum early in 2010, will discuss his current role at the museum and the opportunity it offers him to explain design on a national scale. While seeing the Cooper-Hewitt through physical renovations as well as changes in curatorial focus, Moggridge also aims to expand public awareness about design’s potential to impact personal health, social well-being and global sustainability.
Bill Moggridge is the director of the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, the only museum in the United States devoted exclusively to historic and contemporary design. Moggridge designed the first laptop computer, the Grid Compass, launched in 1982. He describes his career as having three phases, first as a designer with projects for clients in ten countries, second as a co-founder of IDEO where he developed design methods for interdisciplinary design teams, and third as a spokesperson for the value of design in everyday life, writing, presenting and teaching, supported by the historical depth and contemporary reach of the museum.

November 9: Mark Lamster, “How to Write a Book”

The book. Rumors of its demise not withstanding, it remains the Holy Grail of every would-be writer. But how to do it? What’s a valid idea? How do you pitch it? What kind of superhuman discipline does it require? How do you solve “writer’s block”? Veteran author and editor Mark Lamster can walk you through the process, from the inception of your idea, to the formatting of your last footnote.
Mark Lamster is at work on a biography of the late architect Philip Johnson. His last book, Master of Shadows (Nan A. Talese, 2009) was a political biography of the painter Peter Paul Rubens. For more than a decade, Lamster was an editor at Princeton Architectural Press in New York. His writing on architecture and design appears regularly in magazines, newspapers, and online.

November 16: Pilar Viladas, “Words and Pictures”

Pilar Viladas, Design Editor, T: The New York Times Style Magazine, will discuss her work as a magazine editor and writer, and how doing both involves constantly alternating between two different mindsets. She will show examples of stories she has done in her 13 years at the Times, and how they illustrate the orchestration of storytelling by verbal and visual means.
Pilar Viladas is the Design Editor of T: The New York Times Style Magazine. She has also worked as an editor and/or writer at Interiors, Progressive Architecture, HG and Architectural Digest. She received a BA in Art History from Harvard, and was a Loeb Fellow in Advanced Environmental Studies at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. She is the author of three books, including Domesticities: At Home With The New York Times Magazine, published by Bulfinch in 2005.

November 30: Lawrence Weschler, “Towards a Typology of Convergences”
For the past decade, in the National Book Critics Circle Award winning Everything that Rises: A Book of Convergences, and in the ongoing contest that book spawned on the website, Lawrence Weschler has been exploring the way images (but also poems, musical themes, etc.) set a context for the reception of subsequent instances. We see by way of what we have already seen. We create by way of our entire prior sensorium. In this talk, Weschler will consider a spectrum of such convergent effects, from apophenia (the tendency of humans to see patterns where none exist) through co-causation, fractalization, influence (forward and backward, direct and unconscious), homage, apprenticeship, allusion, quotation, appropriation, cryptonesia (verbatim appropriation without realizing you’re doing so), through outright plagiarism… Fun for everyone.
Lawrence Weschler is director of the New York Institute for the Humanities at NYU, where he has been a fellow since 1991. A staff writer at The New Yorker for more than 20 years, Weschler’s journalistic work won a George Polk Award (for Cultural Reporting in 1988 and Magazine Reporting in 1992) and a Lannan Literary Award (1998). Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder (Pantheon, 1995), his book about the Museum of Jurassic Technology, was shortlisted for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Everything that Rises: A Book of Convergences (McSweeney’s, 2006), received the 2007 National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism.

December 7: Peter Hall, “The Art of Mapping”

This lecture explores the emergence of mapping as a research and visualization method used by writers and designers to reveal agendas and uncover potential. Peter Hall, whose research focuses on mapping as a design process, has co-edited with Jan Abrams the book, Else/Where: Mapping-New Cartographies of Networks and Territories and organized several symposia and workshops on mapping.
Peter Hall is a design critic, and senior lecturer in design at the University of Texas at Austin, where he teaches design theory, history and journalistic methods of research and writing. He writes regularly for Metropolis magazine and his books include Tibor Kalman: Perverse Optimist (Booth-Clibborn Editions, 2000), and Sagmeister: Made You Look (Abrams, 2009). He is co-organizer of DesignInquiry, a non-profit educational organization devoted to researching design issues at an annual gathering in Vinalhaven, Maine.

December 14: Victoria Milne, “We Built This City: How Art, Graphics, and Design Policy take Shape for New Yorkers”

A former design critic, Victoria Milne will discuss the gory and glamorous process of developing art and design projects for the City of New York. Her responsibilities range in scale from the design of event nametags to developing policy for architecture.

Victoria Milne is Director of Creative Services at NYC’s Department of Design and Construction (DDC), where she manages percent for art projects for DDC, runs an in-house graphic design team and is involved in policy projects. DDC manages the capital programs for most mayoral agencies, and has a combined streets and buildings budget of over $8 billion per year. Prior to joining DDC in 1999 Milne was a contributing editor for Dwell and Blueprint magazines, and editor-in-chief of Glass magazine. She curated exhibitions, including “The Pull of Beauty” at the Storefront for Art and Architecture and the National Building Museum, and the first museum show of industrial design in the Northwest at the Tacoma Art Museum.

School of Visual Arts (SVA) in New York City is an established leader and innovator in the education of artists. From its inception in 1947, the faculty has been comprised of professionals working in the arts and art-related fields. SVA provides an environment that nurtures creativity, inventiveness and experimentation, enabling students to develop a strong sense of identity and a clear direction of purpose.

For more information, please contact the School of Visual Arts at or 212.592.2010.

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