Hundreds of Washington, DC high-school students gathered at the Kogod Courtyard of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery to participate in one of the biggest teen design events of the year. DC teens were invited to learn about design careers from the National Design Award winners, finalists, and jurors working in the fields of fashion, industrial design, graphic, communication, landscape, and architecture. Design colleges from the DC area were also in attendance to counsel the students on a potential design education. Students had the opportunity to ask the designers their burning questions about what it’s like to be a designer and to work in the design field. The buzz of excitement was palpable as the students traveled from one designer’s table to another gripping their programs to see who they could speak to next. The event concluded with inspiring words from keynote speaker Tim Gunn, who’s always a huge hit with the students!
The thrill of the day’s events continued after the Teen Design Fair was over. Every year the First Lady hosts a luncheon at the White House honoring the year’s National Design Awards winners and finalists. This year, fifteen outstanding DC high-school students with an interest in design were selected to attend the luncheon and be seated with the honorees. Before the lunch began, the students waited expectantly in the Red Room of the White House for Mrs. Obama to appear to have her photo taken with the group. The moment she floated into the room an audible gasp was emitted from all of the students. Mrs. Obama spoke with the students about their interests in design and gave them encouraging words to always follow their dreams. It was evident that the group was deeply moved by the events of the day. Perhaps the moment that describes it best is when one of the students, Princess Lawrence, said to Mrs. Obama, “Next time I’m at the White House I’ll be one of the National Design Award winners!”