Cooper Troopers

Cooper Hewitt celebrates 20 years of National Design Awards with 2019 winners

The Glenstone Museum's completed new pavilions, which were designed by Thomas Phifer and Partners. (Iwan Baan)

The Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum has announced its 2019 National Design Awards winners, choosing to honor 11 designers and studios who are using design to improve the world for the better. The program was launched in 2000 by the White House Millennium Council and has celebrated a wide variety of architects, designers, and advocates ever since.

This year’s winners are as follows:

Lifetime Achievement: The San Francisco-based graphic designer Susan Kare was recognized for her decades of contributions to modern icon design. Kare, the creative director of Pinterest since 2015, is responsible for many of the original Mac’s classic icons and typefaces. Susan Kare Design has worked for brands such as Facebook, IBM, Microsoft, and other titans for the last 25 years.

Photo of Susan Kare

Susan Kare (Ann Rhoney)

Architecture Design: Fresh off the completion of the Glenstone Museum in Potomac, Maryland, last year, Thomas Phifer was recognized as the 2019 Architecture Design award winner. Phifer, currently the William Henry Bishop Visiting Professor of Architectural Design at the Yale School of Architecture, is the founder of Thomas Phifer and Partners.

Interior Design: San Francisco’s IwamotoScott Architecture took home this year’s Interior Design award, as the Cooper Hewitt cited the firm’s willingness to integrate conceptual research into its realized projects.

Photo of tessellated, triangular wooden columns

IwamotoScott’s 2008 installation VoussoirCloud on display at the SCIarc Gallery in Los Angeles. (Judson Terry)

Landscape Architecture: SCAPE Landscape Architecture was recognized for its numerous projects (and master plans, and research) that combine landscape architecture with living ecology. SCAPE works across all scales but its use of regenerative landscapes and public outreach is deeply embedded in the firm’s process no matter the size of the project.

Diagram of Boston Harbor with a number of shoreline extensions proposed

SCAPE was responsible for synthesizing a host of existing planning and landscape architecture visions into a cohesive sustainability plan for Boston Harbor. (Courtesy SCAPE)

Design Mind: Patricia Moore, author, designer, and expert on how peoples’ tastes and preferences change as they age, was honored with the Design Mind award. The Cooper Hewitt singled out Moore’s travels across North America from 1979 to 1982, wherein she disguised herself as an older woman to understand the challenges associated with living as an elderly member of society.

Corporate & Institutional Achievement: The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s D-Lab seeks to bring design and engineering thinking to the problems faced by those living in poverty. Founded in 2002, the lab now runs 20 interdisciplinary courses leading projects run by, and for, people living in poverty.

Communication Design: Typeface designer Tobias Frere-Jones was recognized this year for his innumerable font contributions that are used every day, including “Interstate, Poynter Oldstyle, Whitney, Gotham, Surveyor, Tungsten, and Retina,” according to the Cooper Hewitt.

Fashion Design: American fashion designer and founder of an eponymous fashion house Derek Lam was recognized for his relaxed, yet refined, take on sportswear. Lam’s work has been shown all over the world, including at the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Museum at FIT.

Interaction Design: Ivan Poupyrev has worn many hats over his storied career and has always brought a multidisciplinary approach to interaction design. This year, Poupyrev was recognized for his work in blending digital and tactile interfaces and advancing more equitable interaction solutions. Poupyrev is currently the director of engineering at Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects group.

Product Design: The Portland-based Tinker Hatfield was recognized for his four decades of contributions to Nike, during which he worked on the iconic Air Jordan sneakers, among numerous other celebrity collaborations. Hatfield is currently the vice president of creative concepts at the company, and continues to push for, and develop, boundary-pushing athletic shoes.

Emerging Designer: The nonprofit Open Style Lab, a studio launched in 2014 as a public service project at MIT, took home this year’s Emerging Designer award and a cash prize intended to accelerate its development. The New York–based Lab is dedicated to designing wearables for everyone, regardless of disability, and its portfolio includes wearable technology, accessories, and novel textile research and applications.

Photo of woman next to a turnstile, using a lanyard to swipe into the card reader

A 3D-printed accessory designed by Open Style Lab to help those with upper body impairments swipe into the NYC subway system. (Christina Mallon, Julia Liao)

It appears that the Cooper Hewitt has increased the stringency of its awards eligibility requirements this year; individual nominees must have at least ten years of experience under their belt, up from seven last year, and Lifetime Achievement nominees now require at least 25 years of experience, up from last year’s 20. To be eligible for the Emerging Designer category, nominees must possess less than eight years of professional experience.

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