The defining criteria of the National Design Awards are excellence, innovation, and enhancement of the quality of life.
Nominations & Submissions
Each fall, the process begins with an open call for nominations, which are solicited from leading designers, educators, journalists, cultural figures, corporate leaders, and design enthusiasts from every state in the nation. Nominees are invited to submit materials for the jury’s review according to specifications provided by the National Design Awards office. Submissions generally consist of resumes, design statements, portfolios of work, and professional-quality visual samples.
Eligibility is restricted to citizens or long-term residents of the United States. Firms, corporations, or institutions must have their corporate headquarters in the United States and must have been established for a minimum of seven years. Individual nominees must have been practicing professionally for a minimum of seven years; Lifetime Achievement nominees must have been practicing professionally for a minimum of twenty years. Winners of a National Design Award in a Design Category will be eligible for the Lifetime Achievement, Design Mind, or Corporate and Institutional Achievement categories ten years of receiving their award. Cooper-Hewitt employees and trustees and their families and household members are not eligible. Awards are given for a body of realized work, not for any specific project.
The jury meets over a two-day period to thoroughly review every submission and consider each nominee, with the challenging task of determining the work that best embodies the Awards’ mission. The jurors assess portfolios in terms of the works’ relationship to and impact on contemporary daily life. Extraordinary originality in identifying, shaping, and solving problems is highly valued, and nominees whose work significantly broadens the conventions of their discipline, introduces formal innovation, and exhibits consistently high levels of imagination and insight are given special consideration. Finally, in keeping with Cooper-Hewitt's definition of design as a force of change, the extent to which the general public has benefited from the explorations and achievements of the nominee is weighed.
The jury is briefed by the Museum staff on the mission of and review criteria for the Awards, but Museum staff does not participate in the selection process. Jurors are asked to base their decisions primarily on the core criteria: excellence, innovation, and enhancement of the quality of life. They are also asked to consider the broad spectrum of the design community—geographically, culturally, and artistically. All jury deliberations are kept confidential.
Meet the 2013 Jury
The National Design Awards jurors are chosen for their prominence and expertise in the design world and their ability to serve in a knowledgeable and statesmanlike manner.
- Zoë Ryan/Jury Chair, John H. Bryan Chair and Curator of Architecture and Design, The Art Institute of Chicago
- Charles Adler, Head of Design, Kickstarter
- Gail Anderson, graphic designer, writer, and educator, www.gailycurl.com
- Gisue Hariri, Founder and Creative Principal, Hariri & Hariri
- Jon Kolko, Founder and Director, Austin Center for Design and Vice President of Design, MyEdu, www.jonkolko.com
- Thom Mayne, Design Director, Morphosis
- Christine Ten Eyck, President, Ten Eyck Landscape Architects
- Isabel and Ruben Toledo, Principals, Toledo Studio
- Gianfranco Zaccai, President and Chief Design Officer, Continuum