The long-standing program honors exemplary design leadership in the United States.
BY RYAN WADDOUPS
September 02, 2021
Cooper Hewitt’s annual National Design Awards, Smithsonian Design Museum honors the legacy of preeminent design leadership in America and the power of design to change the world. Now in its 22nd year, this distinction recognizes innovation in nine categories such as architecture, fashion, design and climate action. Dr Jill Biden was the honorary sponsor of this year’s awards, which were established in 2000 as part of a White House Millennium Council project. A esteemed jury of design leaders and educators, including Joe Gebbia, Kristine Johnson, and Patricia Saldaña Natke, selected the winners after reviewing multiple submissions from design experts and enthusiasts.
“The winners of the National Design Award 2021 challenge the limits of their fields,” Ruki Neuhold-Ravikumar, acting director of the museum, said in a statement. “From community and future-oriented design to socially responsible design, these designers fill us with optimism for the future by demonstrating the transformative capacity of design. Mark your calendars for even more programming to celebrate this year’s winners: In September, Cooper Hewitt will present the awards in Detroit as part of Detroit Month of Design, and each winner will participate in virtual activities such as lectures, workshops and tours to celebrate National Design Month in October.
This year’s winners include:
Cheryl D. Miller (Visionary design)
Graphic designer, author and theologian, Miller is best known for her advocacy on racial, cultural and gender equity, diversity and inclusion. She founded one of the first black women-owned design firms in New York City in 1984, and three years later published a seminal article in TO PRINT magazine entitled “Black Designers Missing in Action” which laid the foundations for its future advocacy.
InVert auto-shading window by Doris Sung (Climate action)
InVert auto-shading window uses smart thermo-metallic pieces inside the city of a standard double-glazed window to magically shade a building, with a kaleidoscope of floating butterfly-like pieces. By reacting to the sun, it dynamically blocks solar radiation from the heating of the building and thus reduces the use of air conditioning by 25% using zero energy and no controls. Since 40% of all energy used is in buildings, far more than in other industries, and 12% of that energy is spent cooling interiors, any reduction has a huge impact on mitigation. greenhouse gas emissions.
A New Orleans-based, multidisciplinary nonprofit design justice practice that focuses on expanding community access to the design of social, civic and cultural spaces, Colloqate Design’s mission is to ” organize and defend spaces of racial and social justice throughout the built environment. Colloqate is organized to develop knowledge, power and access in communities through ongoing local gatherings and workshops to share and develop collective knowledge around the city building process.
Founded by Carol Ross Barney in 1981, this Chicago-based company is on a mission to create well-designed spaces for everyone. The studio is dedicated to “noble” projects, those without the most generous budgets or the most sought after commissions, but those essential to daily life and which require innovative interventions.
Specializing in design-based visual storytelling, Imaginary Forces has created works that challenge audiences to create entirely new worlds. Known for designing iconic title sequences for wonder, Mad Men, Boardwalk Empire, and Strange things, the 25-year-old communications design studio was instrumental in bringing motion design to advertising, architecture, games, and documentary film production.
Farahi is an award-winning designer whose work lies at the intersection of digital design, architecture, fashion and interactive design, ranging from portable devices to architectural installations. His practice explores how materials can be imbued with artificial intelligence and realistic behaviors, incorporating techniques such as EEG brain imaging, face and gaze tracking, 3D printing, as well as smart materials and pneumatic systems. She is interested in the latest developments in neuroscience, cognitive philosophy, computational design, AI and feminism to spark new conversations about the future of design.
Becca McCharen-Tran from Chromat (Fashion design)
Fashion designer and founder of the up-and-coming bodywear line Chromat, McCharen-Tran has shaped her design practice by questioning cultural hegemony around representation and inclusion. She also gave a TED talk on the Urgency of Racial, Gender and Disability Justice in Fashion and hosted the “Queer Joy” exhibit at MoMA PS1, which included a series of performances and installations celebrating the LGBTQ community.
Studio-MLA (Landscape architecture)
Operating on the mantra of ‘advocacy by design’, Studio-MLA integrates landscape architecture, urban design and planning to create places that inspire human relationships, unite communities and restore environmental balance. From primary river planning to designing plazas and intimate gardens, the studio has been recognized for its creativity, pragmatism and responsibility across a range of scales and geographies, and believes in the transformative power of design to recalibrate its common environment for a resilient future.
BioLite (Product design)
A social enterprise that develops, manufactures and markets advanced energy products for off-grid communities around the world, BioLite creates new cooking, charging and lighting solutions that serve both outdoor enthusiasts and rural communities without network access. To date, BioLite has reached over 1.7 million people in Africa and Asia and avoided 400,000 tonnes of carbon emissions through its clean energy solutions, which is equivalent to removing 100,000 cars from the world. road for a year.