Cooper Hewitt Announces National Design Award Winners

The Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum has revealed the winners of this year’s National Design Awards with an emphasis on diversity and racial and social equity.

Established in 2000 as an offshoot of the White House Millennium Council, the National Design Awards celebrate the many ways that design enriches everyday life. In honor of “National Design Month” starting in October, the Cooper Hewitt will offer a monthlong selection of talks, workshops, virtual programs, a design career fair and special events. There will not be an in-person National Design Awards gala this fall, as a public health precaution due to COVID-19. In lieu of its annual awards dinner, the Cooper Hewitt will celebrate the achievements of this year’s award winners, during virtual programming in National Design Month, a museum spokesperson said.

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First Lady Jill Biden will serve as the honorary patron for this year’s NDA, taking on a role that her predecessor Melania Trump had not been involved with. Previous first ladies such as Laura Bush and Michelle Obama, however, had done so.

The Design Visionary honoree is Cheryl D. Miller, a champion of racial and gender equality in graphic design. She is also known as one of the first Black women to establish her own design firm in New York City.

Invert Self-Shading Windows is being recognized with the Climate Action award. The company uses thermobimetal inside a standard window cavity to block solar heat and reduce our reliance on energy. Using no energy or controls, the windows respond to the sun and curl to block solar radiation from entering the building. They are said to lessen air conditioning in a building by 15 percent and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The four-year-old multidisciplinary architecture and design firm Colloqate Design, which highlights racial, social and cultural equity in its work, will be saluted with the Emerging Designer award. Another architectural-minded company, Ross Barney Architects, will be given the Architecture and Interior Design award.

Digital Design winner will be Behnaz Farahi, an Iranian American architect who specializes in wearables and installations. Her works explores feminism, emotion, bodily perception and social interaction. This year’s Communication Design winner is Imaginary Forces, a design studio and creative agency with offices in Los Angeles and New York. Its portfolio includes spots for Nike and Microsoft and the main titles for all three “Transformer” films, as well as other movies and shows.

Futuristic fashion designer Becca McCharen-Tran, who infuses technology into her Chromat label, will be the recipient for Fashion. The New York-based creative has also crafted designs for Beyoncé, Nicki Minaj and Madonna.

The NDA for Landscape Architecture will go to studioMLA Architects, the Boston-based firm that plays up cost effective and innovative projects the Product Design one will be presented to BioLite, which aims to provide 20 million people with access to clean energy and avoid three million tons of CO2 emissions by 2025.

Design and fashion fans can also check out “Susie Zuzek for Lilly Pulitzer: The Prints that Made the Fashion Brand” at the Cooper Hewitt on New York’s Upper East Side through Jan. 2. There will not be an in-person gala this fall, due to concerns about the coronavirus. The winners will be celebrated during National Design Month programming.

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