Among the remarkable developments in contemporary culture has been the convergence of practices that once unambiguously belonged to art or design but which today happily share methods, means and concerns.

Of particular importance are practices that seek to engage with the public and social realm—physical or virtual—with a view to shaping and transforming human action and historical experience. The phrase “spatial practice”—once a term of idiosyncrasy that applied to the margins of architectural activism—has become a confident and widely-used term to describe a variety of architectural and artistic engagements with the city and society and with aesthetic practice in general. In many ways it defines the new and moving boundary of the design discipline.

The MDes program in Art, Design, and the Public Domain seeks creative and ambitious individuals from all backgrounds and academic disciplines with a keen interest in contemporary issues of urban, historical, aesthetic and technological culture, and with a predilection for intervention, exhibition and public work. This program also seeks practicing architects, artists, filmmakers and cultural producers wishing to ‘switch gears’ and develop a practice of creative and imaginative speculation, or art-related work, with an emphasis on sophisticated thinking, advanced fabrication methodologies and techniques, and social and aesthetic engagement.

This program is designed to both accommodate graduated MFAs as well as to serve in lieu of a traditional MFA program in an orthodox art academy. The GSD has a wide variety of assets in cultural theory, applied computation, fabrication, art-related practice and speculative design. The GSD also shares links with Visual and Environmental Studies, film and literature departments, and innovative new collaborations with international programs in the political and experimental arts. The program strongly welcomes unconventional proposals for study that address emerging issues in (the history of) technology, science, performance, industrial design, typography and all aspects of the changing social and cultural environment.

Area Heads

Silvia Benedito, Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture
Krzysztof Wodiczko, Professor in Residence of Art, Design and the Public Domain

Associates and Affiliated Institutions

Giuliana Bruno, Emmet Blakeney Gleason Professor of Visual and Environmental Studies
Dan Byers, Director of the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts
Pieranna Cavalchini, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum‘s Curator of Contemporary Art
Sarah Herda, Director of the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies
Jill Johnson, Dance Director & Senior Lecturer, Theater, Dance & Media, Department of Music
David Macy, Resident Director of the MacDowell Colony for the Arts
Micaela Martegani, Founder and Director of More Art
Eve Respini, Barbara Lee Chief Curator of The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston
Mary Schneider Enriquez, Associate Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Harvard Art Museums
Greg Scholette, Founder of REPOhistory project
Alfredo Jaar, Associate
Jill Magid, Associate

Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge
Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Cambridge
Institute for Spatial Experiments, Berlin
The Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, Chicago (curatorial/public programs fellowship)
MacDowell Colony for the Arts
Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston


Student Work


by Francisco Alarcon (MDes '18), Rudy Weissenberg (MDes '18), and Carla Ferrer Llorca (MDes '17) WE ALL is…

Student Work

Fall 2017