Design Research Store, Cambridge, MA, 1953–78. Photo: Esto

Today Cooper-Hewitt announced the winners of the 11th annual National Design Awards. The entire list of winners and finalists is here.

One of the best parts of my job is the opportunity to sit in and observe (without voting) the jury process as they determine the winners and finalists. They usually start with Design Mind or Lifetime Achievement-tricky because nominees come from all fields- and by then end of the category have often articulated what is important to them as a jury. Last year’s jury made a statement about outreach and the role of design in the public sphere. A word that came up frequently during this year’s deliberations was ‘pioneer.’ I think of pioneers as those who got out ahead of the pack, forging paths for others. That could certainly be said of many of the winners and finalists. Sixty years ago Jane Thompson provided a strong female perspective in a male-dominated field. The U.S. Green Building Council has been committed to sustainable design since its founding in 1993. In addition to being pioneers in their fields, each of these winners has also been at the forefront in expanding the role of design in our world.

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