Elevating Design

Industrial Designers Top List of 2017 National Design Award Winners

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum will honor the winners of its 2017 National Design Awards (NDA)—recognizing design excellence and innovation—at a gala dinner and ceremony on Oct. 19, 2017. Now in its 18th year, the NDAs promote design as a vital humanistic tool in shaping the world and are accompanied by robust educational programs. IDSA International Design Conference 2017 Chair Jeevak Badve, IDSA, of Sundberg-Ferar, served as a juror in this year’s awards. IDSA is a professional supporter of NDA.

The list of this year’s recipients is topped by two noted industrial designers:

Lifetime Achievement—founder of frog design Hartmut Esslinger is an internationally renowned industrial designer, originally from Germany and now living in California. Cooper Hewitt describes him as “the first designer to bring human-driven, high-touch design to the world of complex hardware and software technology.” Together with his partner and wife, Patricia Roller, Esslinger has worked with Sony, Apple, Louis Vuitton, SAP, Lufthansa and Microsoft. He’s also a founding professor of the Hochschule für Gestaltung in Germany; a DeTao professor at Fudan/SIVA University in Shanghai; and a former professor with the ID2 Master Class at the University of Applied Arts, Vienna.

Product DesignJoe Doucet, an Art Center College of Design alum who is a designer, entrepreneur, inventor and creative director based in New York City. His portfolio ranges from product and furniture to environment and technology for clients including BMW, Braun, Hugo Boss, Lexon, Moët & Chandon and Target. Doucet’s work “deftly hybridizes function and visual appeal while conveying layers of meaning and message,” describes Cooper Hewitt, and has been exhibited at the London Design Museum and the Biennale International Design in Saint-Étienne.

Director’s Award—For 45 years, publisher/editor of Metropolis magazine Susan Szenasy has contributed “an unparalleled confluence of advocacy and ethics in positioning architecture and design as humanistic activities in contemporary culture.”

Design Mind—Craig Wilkins,PhD, is an architect, academic and author who is recognized as one of the country’s leading scholars on African Americans in architecture. He is a senior lecturer in architecture at the University of Michigan's Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning.

Corporate & Institutional Achievement—Design Trust for Public Space is a NYC-based, non-profit organization founded in 1995 by Andrea Woodner to bring design expertise into the public realm.

Architecture Design—MASS Design Group has 75 employees in more than a dozen countries and “believes that architecture is never neutral—that it either heals or hurts—and that a well-designed, beautiful world is a human right.”

Communication Design—Jennifer Morla established San Francisco-based Morla Design in 1984 “to pair wit and elegance on everything from motion graphics and branding to retail environments and textiles.” She has been honored with 300+ awards in visual communication and taught at California College of the Arts for 23 years.

Fashion Design—Slow and Steady Wins the Race was founded by Mary Ping in 2002. “Each collection contains a commentary on the cultural anthropology of modern fashion, focusing on the fundamental characteristics of design within a wardrobe.”

Interaction Design—Stamen Design s an independent design and technology company founded in 2001 by Eric Rodenbeck in San Francisco and “has consistently innovated in interactive design, building beautiful, technically sophisticated projects” for clients from the Dalai Lama to MTV.

Interior Design—Deborah Berke Partners is a NYC-based architecture and interior design practice led by partners Deborah Berke, Maitland Jones and Marc Leff, and senior principals Stephen Brockman and Caroline Wharton Ewing. Its work includes the Rockefeller Arts Center and the Yale School of Art.

Landscape Architecture—Surfacedesign is a landscape architecture and urban design firm founded in 2001 in San Francisco that “creates dynamic parks, plazas, waterfronts, civic landscapes and private gardens.” James Lord, Roderick Wyllie and Geoff di Girolamo, in collaboration with a multi-disciplinary team of landscape architects, urban designers and architects, created the Smithsonian Master Plan, Golden Gate Bridge 75th Anniversary Plaza and IBM Plaza Honolulu.

“In an era of tumultuous change, design is asking deep questions about its purpose and contributions to a better society,” says Caroline Baumann, director of Cooper Hewitt. “The achievements of this year’s class of National Design Award winners have informed that dialogue, and their accomplishments have elevated our understanding of what great American design is and what it can do to improve our world.”

The Director’s Award is chosen by Baumann and given to an individual or organization in recognition of outstanding support and patronage within the design community.

In addition to Badve, the jury included:

  • Rafael de Cárdenas, founder, Rafael de Cárdenas / Architecture at Large
  • Ray Huff, director, Clemson Architecture Center
  • Randy Hunt, vice president of design, Etsy
  • Mia Lehrer, landscape urbanist, Mia Lehrer + Associates
  • Lisa Perry, designer, Lisa Perry Style
  • Sandy Speicher, partner and managing director of education, IDEO
  • Lisa Strausfeld, principal, InformationArt
  • Robert Wong, vice president, Creative Lab, Google, Inc.

Established in 2000 as a project of the White House Millennium Council, the National Design Awards ceremony and gala falls during National Design Week, which takes place this year from Oct. 14 to 22. Public education programs will be offered at the museum and across the country, including special events, panel discussions and workshops for students, teachers, corporate professionals, designers and Cooper Hewitt’s dedicated audience. See www.cooperhewitt.org/events.

NDA and National Design Week professional supporters include IDSA; AIGA, the professional association for design; American Institute of Architects New York Chapter; American Society of Interior Designers; American Society of Landscape Architects; Council of Fashion Designers of America; Interaction Design Association; and International Interior Design Association.