A landscape view of green space in New York City
Kongjian Yu, Sanya Mangrove Park. Restoring mangroves along coastal shorelines is a critical strategy for mitigating climate-change-driven urban flood risk in tropical cities. One of the key challenges is to find an efficient and inexpensive method to do so. In just three years, an area of lifeless landfill within a concrete flood wall was successfully restored into a lush mangrove park where ocean tides and fresh water meet (Sanya City, China, 2015). Photo: Kongjian Yu

Cooper Hewitt Unveils 2023 National Design Awards Winners

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum recently announced the winners of the 2023 National Design Awards, honoring design innovation and impact across 10 categories. Now in its 24th year, the awards honor a diverse range of talent, spotlighting the impact of design across disciplines from fashion to landscapes, interiors, and more.

“This year’s National Design Award winners are a highly diverse group—from a handcraft-focused fashion designer to one of the early pioneers of digital design—but they share many common traits: a highly rigorous process to their discipline, a truly collaborative approach and putting people front and center in their practice,” said Dung Ngo, chair of the National Design Awards jury. “These are design core values worth celebrating.”

The National Design Awards, first established in 2000 by the White House Millennium Council, are accompanied annually by National Design Week, which takes place this year October 2–8. Programming includes free admission to Cooper Hewitt as well as educational activities including tours, panel discussions, and a design career fair for high school students, to name a few.

“My gratitude goes to this year’s stellar jury for their thoughtful selection of the 2023 National Design Award winners,” said Maria Nicanor, director of the museum. “This year’s cohort, a diverse group of designers across disciplines, are not only charting new pathways in their respective fields, but also integrating sustainable, socially responsible and people-centered practices in their work in a moment of profound global complexity.”

The 2023 National Design Awards jury, chaired by Dung Ngo, editor in chief, August Journal, also included Tiffany Chu, chief of staff to the mayor, City of Boston; Carla Fernández Tena, creative director, Carla Fernández; Noah Schwarz, director of product design, Herman Miller; and Sara Zewde, principal and assistant professor of practice, Studio Zewde and Harvard University.

Winners will be honored at an awards celebration Thursday, October 5 at Cooper Hewitt.

Cooper Hewitt’s National Design Awards Winners Shine

Design Visionary: Seymour Chwast

A posture for the Bauhaus
Seymour Chwast, “Design & Style” #7, Bauhaus. One of seven editions exploring Victorian to Bauhaus. It was a twice-yearly survey of historic design style and typography and its influence on contemporary graphic design (1991). Photography courtesy of Seymour Chwast.
A poster of a person wearing a gas mask
Seymour Chwast, Earth Day 95. An Earth Day poster with a more graphic image, suggesting an uncomfortable future (1995). Photography courtesy of Seymour Chwast.

Seymour Chwast, a founding partner of Push Pin Studios, has been at the forefront of graphic design since the 1950s and continues to explore new frontiers in design and typography. His designs and illustrations have been exhibited in major galleries and museums in the United States, Europe, Japan, Brazil and Russia—even honored at the Louvre in Paris in the two-month retrospective exhibition “The Push Pin Style” in 1970. A graduate of The Cooper Union, Chwast holds an honorary doctorate in Fine Arts from the Parsons School of Design and The Rhode Island School of Design. He has received numerous awards including the 1985 AIGA Medal and is in the Art Directors Hall of Fame.

Climate Action: Biocement Tiles by Biomason

Gray long rectangular tiles in sand
Biolith Tiles (Outer Banks, North Carolina, 2020). Photography courtesy of Biomason.

Founded in 2012, Biomason’s mission is to reduce CO2 emissions generated by global cement manufacturing, which accounts for approximately 8% of global CO2 emissions. Inspired by a study of coral structure, Biomason developed a scalable and sustainable approach to the production of cement and concrete materials. Biomason’s Biolith tile consists of 85% natural locally sourced aggregates and 15% Biocement and can be used in various construction applications, including walls, floors and facades.

Emerging Designer: Beatriz Lozano

Posters with bright patterns and colors
Beatriz Lozano, Hyperspace identity in use across posters, patterns, and website (2022). Project Partner: Sunday Afternoon. Photography courtesy of Beatriz Lozano.

Beatriz Lozano is a designer, typographer and educator exploring how technology can push typography forward. She views design as a medium to create social change and bridge the gap in access to resources and knowledge. Lozano’s work has been recognized by the Art Directors Club, Type Directors Club, Communication Arts and PRINT. In 2023, she was awarded the Art Directors Club Young Gun Award, honoring creatives under the age of 30. She teaches interaction design at Parsons and was formerly a design director at Sunday Afternoon.

Architecture: nARCHITECTS

A cubelike house tucked into a forest
nARCHITECTS, CLT House emerges from a clearing in a forest, 200 feet away from the shoreline of a beautiful lake. Entirely constructed with cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels milled in a factory, and prefabricated concrete foundations, the building’s volume was quickly assembled on-site (Clinton, New York, 2023). Photography by Frank Oudeman.

Eric Bunge and Mimi Hoang founded nARCHITECTS in 1999 to address urgent issues through socially engaging architecture. The firm works for the public good, maximizing the mutual positive impact between communities, buildings, public spaces and their environment. In 2016, nARCHITECTS completed Carmel Place, New York City’s first micro-unit apartment building, and A/D/O, a design center dedicated to improving urban life, just one of many social impact projects. nARCHITECTS’ commitment to innovative housing and the integration of architecture into landscape emerged from Bunge and Hoang’s early work (Canopy and Switch Building) and graduate design studios taught at Columbia and Yale University.

Communication Design: Arem Duplessis

A pink spiral NYT Magazine cover by Arem Duplessis
Arem Duplessis, Cover fiction by Dave Eggers, The New York Times Magazine (New York, New York, 2013). Project partners: Hugo Lindgren (editor); Arem Duplessis (design director); Gail Bichler (art director); Caleb Bennett (deputy assistant director); Christoph Niemann (illustration). Photography courtesy of Arem Duplessis.

Arem Duplessis crafts impactful visual narratives and currently serves as a group creative director at Apple. Previously, he was design director of the New York Times Magazine, where his department was named Design Team of the Year for three consecutive years by the Art Directors Club. During his tenure at GQ, he commissioned the Gotham typeface, which went on to become one of the most recognizable typefaces of a generation. He has received numerous awards, including an Emmy and AIGA Medal, and lectured at design institutions around the globe. Duplessis received a Bachelor of Arts from Hampton University and a Master of Science from Pratt Institute where he was recently inducted into the Hall of Fame as a “Pratt Legend.”

Digital Design: Clement Mok

Illustrations of animals by Clement Monk
Clement Mok, Critteroos, children’s iPad App, visual symbols library (2013). Photography courtesy of Clement Mok.

Clement Mok wears many hats as a designer, digital pioneer, software publisher and developer, author and design patent holder. He began his career in the 1980s at the design department at CBS, then moved to Apple, where he joined the Macintosh design team as a designer working with Steve Jobs. As creative director at Apple, he made computers more accessible. Since then, he has founded multiple successful design-related businesses and helped shape new frontiers of digital design. His contributions have been recognized by publications and many awards, including the 2008 AIGA Medal. Mok is also an advocate for design and technology practices.

Fashion Design: Naeem Khan

A woman in ornate gown and veil on a runway
Naeem Khan, Look from Fall 2017 Collection (New York, New York, 2017). Photography courtesy of Naeem Khan.
A woman on the beach in a bright bodysuit
Naeem Khan, Look from Resort 2024 Collection (New York, New York, 2023). Photography courtesy of Naeem Khan.

Naeem Khan launched his eponymous fashion collection in 2003. Born and raised in India, his surrounded helped cultivate his vast knowledge of textiles. Khan is known for his work’s hand-embroidery, crafted by artisans in his family-owned factory. As a teenager, Khan moved to the United States and apprenticed for Halston, where he absorbed the ethos of modernism and the secrets of draping and cutting fabric to create timeless silhouettes. Today, his focus is on creating clothing that embodies beauty, glamour and femininity while purposefully evolving his vision in the world of fashion.

Interior Design: The Archers

An interior of home with views to the outside
The Archers, Cabin in the Sky. This 400 square foot unit perched above a garage was originally slated for demolition. Due to the complexities and mounting costs of new construction on such a steep hillside lot, the decision was made to cosmetically remodel the existing 1954 structure (Hollywood Hills, California, 2022). Photography by Richard Petit.

Founded by Richard Petit and Stephen Hunt, The Archers is a Los Angeles-based interior design studio with projects in New York and California. With designers’ backgrounds spanning architecture, art history, set design, fashion and the fine arts, they apply their varied skill sets to create truly unique spaces. Named after the British filmmakers Powell and Pressburger’s production company, the studio has reputation for its collaborative approach to impeccable design. The studio’s work comprises buildings, interiors, and furnishings for private homes and public spaces.

Landscape Architecture: Kongjian Yu

A landscape view of green space in New York City
Kongjian Yu, Sanya Mangrove Park. Restoring mangroves along coastal shorelines is a critical strategy for mitigating climate-change-driven urban flood risk in tropical cities. One of the key challenges is to find an efficient and inexpensive method to do so. In just three years, an area of lifeless landfill within a concrete flood wall was successfully restored into a lush mangrove park where ocean tides and fresh water meet (Sanya City, China, 2015). Photography by Kongjian Yu.

Kongjian Yu is a leader in ecological landscape planning and design. A farmer’s son, he was trained at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, and is the founder of the Peking University College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. Yu is also founder and principal designer of Turenscape. His multi-disciplinary firm specializes in the development of landscapes that combat flooding while repairing ecological damage. Several of Yu’s core ideas for nature-based climate adaptations, including the sponge city concept, have been implemented nationwide in China. He lectures widely and has received numerous awards, including the Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe Award in 2020 from the International Federation of Landscape Architects.

Product Design: Atlason

A tan chair by Atlason for Heller
Atlason, Rotationally molded PCR – LDPE chair for Heller, cradle-to-cradle furniture (2023). Photography by Hlynur V. Atlason.

Atlason, a New York-based strategic innovation and industrial design studio founded by Hlynur Vagn Atlason in 2004., is driven by a deep love for well-designed objects. The studio designs consumer products, furniture and packaging for companies that range from startups to large multinationals. Clients include the Museum of Modern Art, IKEA, DWR, and Heller among others. Atlason left his native Iceland for France to study at the Sorbonne in Paris before moving to New York to attend The New School, Parsons School of Design and then started his eponymous studio.

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