SVA MFA Design Criticism Lecture Series - Spring 2011

SVA MFA Design Criticism Lecture Series: Spring 2011

The School of Visual Arts (SVA) kicks of its series of Design Criticism lectures with Tucker Viemeister, industrial designer and lab chief at Rockwell Group.

Speakers for the Spring lineup are selected and hosted by the current first-year students, and include fashion historian and FIT Museum curator Valerie Steele; design historian Linda King; television critic and "The Medium" columnist Virginia Heffernan; Pentagram partner and writer Michael Bierut; and Wall Street Journal wine critic Lettie Teague.

All lectures are free and open to the public but you do need to RSVP at dcrit at to reserve a seat.

Tucker Viemeister, "Play=Design=Learning"
February 15
Young Frank Lloyd Wright played with his blocks. Eames played with bent wood, Buckminster Fuller played with tensegrity. In order to succeed today, designers need to play with all kinds of complex and contradictory factors. Industrial designer and Fast Company blogger Tucker Viemeister will talk about the role of play in designing, learning and its relationship to design criticism.

Tucker Viemeister is lab chief at Rockwell Group. The Lab experiments with interactive digital technology in objects, environments and stories-blurring the line between the physical and virtual. Since joining Rockwell Group in 2004, Viemeister has been instrumental in the design and development of projects including JetBlue's Marketplace at the JFK International Airport; "Hall of Fragments," an installation that opened the Corderie dell'Arsenale at the 2008 Venice Biennale; and MGM City Centre in Las Vegas. Prior to joining Rockwell Group, Viemeister helped launch frogdesign NY, Razorfish, Smart Design (where he led the design of the widely-acclaimed Oxo "GoodGrips" universal kitchen tools), and Springtime USA.

Michael Bierut, "Designing, Writing, Teaching: Not My Real Job"
March 1
Michael Bierut has worked as a designer, writer, editor, blogger, and teacher. He will describe the pleasures and perils of working for 30 years with an intentionally confusing job description.

Michael Bierut is a partner in the New York office of Pentagram Design, and was previously vice president for Graphic Design at Vignelli Associates. He is the author of Seventy-nine Short Essays on Design (Princeton Architectural Press, 2007), which collects some of his contributions to Design Observer, the design blog he co-founded with Rick Poynor, Jessica Helfand and William Drentell. Bierut is the co-editor of the anthology series Looking Closer: Critical Writings on Graphic Design (Allworth Press) and co-editor of Tibor Kalman, Perverse Optimist (Princeton Architectural Press, 2000). He is a recipient of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum Design Mind Award and frequently contributes commentaries on graphic design in everyday life to the Public Radio International Program "Studio 360."

Linda King, "Fly Irish: US and Dutch Influences on Aer Lingus Advertising"
March 22
Ireland's receipt of Marshall Aid funding put pressure on successive Irish governments to modernize Ireland's tourism industry. By the 1950s Aer Lingus was operating as a de facto tourism authority and had embarked on an ambitious advertising strategy led by Dutch immigrant designers recruited from KLM Airlines. Design historian Linda King demonstrates how these designers introduced a radical visual modernity into Irish graphic design practice, which still resonates today.

Dr. Linda King is a lecturer in Design History, Theory and Visual Communication at the Institute of Art, Design and Technology in Dublin. She has lectured and published widely on her research interests, which include the graphic design and advertising strategies of the former Irish national airline, Aer Lingus; the expression of national identity through design; the professionalization of Irish design practice; and the material culture of tourism. She is an invited member of AICA (International Association of Art Critics) and is on the editorial board of the journal Artefact. Her co-edited volume Ireland, Design and Visual Culture: Negotiating Modernity, 1922-1992, will be published in March 2011.

Virginia Heffernan, "The Pleasures of the Internet"
March 29
"The Pleasures of the Internet" is about the delight-and anxiety-of digital existence. From YouTube to e-books to WikiLeaks, media critic Virginia Heffernan will address the specific ways that digital culture has already superseded analog, and how that's both terrifying and exhilarating.

Virginia Heffernan is a television critic for The New York Times and writer of "The Medium" column in The New York Times Sunday Magazine. Started in 2006, "The Medium" reviews and analyzes our web, television, video and ever-changing media culture and the "way we watch now." Prior to her work at the Times, Heffernan was a fact-checker for The New Yorker. She served as an editor at Harper's and Talk magazines, and as TV critic for the online magazine Slate.

Lettie Teague, "The Language of Wine Labels"
April 5
Everyone has their own method of buying wine-sometimes it just involves labels less than grapes or their origin. Wine labels are as diverse and individual as book jackets. The old adage says you can't judge a book this way, and wine follows suit. What, then, can we learn from the label of a wine bottle? Wine columnist Lettie Teague explores the nuances of wine labeling that clue us in to the contents of a bottle and reveals that sometimes all is not as it seems.

Lettie Teague is a wine columnist and staff writer for The Wall Street Journal. Her column appears on alternate Saturdays in the Off Duty section of WSJ Weekend. She joined the publication in March of 2010, after 12 years as the wine editor and columnist at Food & Wine magazine. Her monthly column, "Wine Matters," won the 2003 James Beard M.F.K. Fisher Distinguished Writing Award and the 2005 James Beard Award for Magazine Columns. She is the author of Educating Peter, an introduction to wine (Scribner, 2007) and the co-author of Fear of Wine (Bantam, 1995). Her work can also be found in the 2009 Best of Food Writing Guide (DaCapo). Teague splits her time between New York City and the North Fork of Long Island's wine country. She loves most wines of the world except Pinotage.

Valerie Steele, "Fashion Theory"
April 12
Valerie Steele, the founder and editor-in-chief of Fashion Theory: The Journal of Dress, Body & Culture, published by Berg, will discuss the origins and development of this influential, interdisciplinary journal and consider its contribution to the development of Fashion Studies as a field.

Valerie Steele is a fashion historian, author, chief curator and director of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. She has curated over 20 exhibitions, and has written many books, including Gothic: Dark Glamour (Yale University Press, 2008); The Corset: A Cultural History (Yale University Press, 2001); Fetish: Fashion, Sex and Power (Oxford University Press, 1996); and The Black Dress (Harper Collins, 2007). She is also the editor-in-chief of Fashion Theory, a journal she founded in 1997, to showcase critical analysis of the dressed body. Steele, who has been referred to by The New York Times as a "High-Heeled Historian" and was listed in the New York Daily News as one of "Fashion's 50 Most Powerful," lectures frequently and has appeared on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" as well as "Undressed: The Story of Fashion" (BBC 4 and Bravo).

School of Visual Arts