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In the Public Eye

The National Design Awards program seeks to increase national awareness of the impact of design through education initiatives. It is presented by Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, which is the Smithsonian Institution’s museum of design.

In the Public Eye

National Design Awards

(Originally published in the September/October 2021 issue of Insights.)

The National Design Awards program seeks to increase national awareness of the impact of design through education initiatives. It is presented by Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, which is the Smithsonian Institution’s museum of design.

In addition to recognizing innovation and impact at the annual National Design Awards Gala, the program’s National Design Month in October draws attention to how design enriches everyday life with a suite of educational offerings. For the program’s NDA Cities, Cooper Hewitt offers hands-on workshops, professional development opportunities, and dynamic panel discussions to bring design literacy to communities around the country.

Photo courtesy of Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

IMPERFECT BY DESIGN

The Corning Museum of Glass deliberately incorporates distortion, bubbles, and striations into the trophy, giving it a hand-hewn, raw quality. This look was preferred by Cooper Hewitt designers over highquality, optically pure glass.

50°

Angle at which the top of the trophy is cut. This enables viewers to peer into the glass and see their reflection. It also means the trophy can be displayed with either side upright.

6-8 HOURS

Time to produce each handpolished trophy

Timeline

2000
The National Design Awards were launched as an official product of the White House Millennium Council. The trophy, a twisted asterisk made from silicon carbide, is created by Winterhouse Studio designers William Drenttel and Jessica Helfand and produced by Saint-Gobain Advanced Ceramics.

2006
The National Design Awards program launches National Design Week to spread the message of quality design.

2010
The trophy is re-created in a stainlesssteel composite material by Smart Design, the winner of the National Design Award in the Product Design category.

2011
The glass trophy currently presented to National Design Awards recipients is created through a partnership between The Corning Museum of Glass’s GlassLab initiative glass artists and Cooper Hewitt designers.

2020
National Design Week is expanded to National Design Month (observed in October) with a full slate of virtual opportunities.

2021
First Lady Jill Biden serves as the Honorary Patron for this year’s National Design Awards.

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