The Annual 2012

School of Visual Arts

From the President

David Rhodes

Recently I gave an interview for Designing New York’s Future, a report that was issued in March 2012 by the Center for an Urban Future. The Center is a public policy organization dedicated to improving the overall health of New York City and serving its long-term interests by targeting problems facing low-income and working-class neighborhoods. Among the report’s key findings was the fact that New York City graduates twice as many students in design and architecture as any other U.S. city, and that colleges like SVA are not only educating the talent for New York’s creative industries, but they have also become critical catalysts for innovation, entrepreneurship and economic growth.

The report’s writer, David Giles, says: “In contrast to engineering and scientific research institutions, design and architecture schools have not traditionally been thought of as important contributors to innovation and competitiveness. But, as we show in this report, that is a mistake.”

Although its findings were no surprise to those of us who have spent a lifetime in the field, Designing New York’s Future is felicitous on many counts. Not only does it encourage legislators to pursue policies more conducive to the growth and development of design education, it does the public a service in compiling a wealth of statistical and anecdotal evidence—and both have a role to play in this process—so that they may press their elected officials to enact such policies. If, as President Obama suggested in his 2012 State of the Union address, the U.S. is to strengthen its economy and solidify its leadership role in the world, we must rededicate ourselves to innovation.

Based on interviews with some of the City’s creative professionals—among them Allan Chochinov, chair of SVA’s new MFA Products of Design Department—the report encourages New York’s design and architecture schools to expand and improve opportunities to learn business skills. With a faculty of practicing professionals—many of them business owners or freelancers—since the College’s founding in 1947, SVA is fortunate to have been a leader in this area. In addition to continually adjusting the curriculum to ensure proper linkage with industry, we are adding new degree programs like the MFA Interaction Design and MPS Branding. The report also recommends the development of innovative interdisciplinary programs, such as our BFA Visual and Critical Studies and MFA Art Practice programs. And we will build on their success in the coming years.

In defining “innovation, entrepreneurship and economic growth,” the center’s report introduces readers to many noteworthy graduates of New York colleges and universities, including SVA alumni Nico Puertollano (BFA 2002 Computer Art), who started his own print and motion graphics studio after graduation, and designer Deborah Adler (MFA 2002 Design), whose thesis project, a new system for prescription packaging, was produced by Target for use in its pharmacies nationwide. As you will read in this 2012 SVA Annual, they are but two of many SVA alumni, faculty and students who are leading the way in “designing the city’s future.”


Designing New York’s Future