The PackH2O Water Backpack took home the 2013 People’s Design Award at the National Design Awards gala in New York, Thursday, Oct. 17. Todd Oldham announced the winning design and presented the award to president and CEO of Grief Inc. David Fischer. PackH2O attempts to solve the global clean water crisis by giving people the power to easily transport their own water.

“Cooper-Hewitt has long been a champion of socially responsible design, most notably for our ‘Design with the Other 90%’ exhibition series,” said Caroline Baumann, director of the museum. “I am truly delighted that the American public has chosen to recognize this design solution for the developing world. Millions of people around the world lack access to a reliable source of clean water, and the PackH2O demonstrates the power of design to address this critical problem.”

The PackH2O Water Backpack was designed by Greif Inc. to provide a cleaner, safer alternative to the often contaminated jerry cans and buckets used in developing countries to transport water from source to home. The backpack features an ergonomic, gender-neutral design, adjustable shoulder straps and a removable liner that can be sanitized in the sun. PackH2O has distributed more than 100,000 packs across five continents through collaborations with companies such as Habitat for Humanity and Partners for Care.

This year’s contest, organized by the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum and Smithsonian magazine, invited the public to vote for their favorite design from a pool of 20 works that emphasizes how innovative design makes a difference in our everyday lives. Voting took place from Sept. 10 through Oct. 11. Nominees ranged from transportation solutions (Helios Bars, HelmetHub and Sunset Skateboards), designs for healthy living (Misfit Shine), educational products (littleBits), interactive design (Dot Dot Dot, Double, Journey, Leap Motion controller, Mailbox and Medium) and landscape design (Nature Gardens at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and Spring Street Park, Los Angeles), to medical devices (EvoCam by Evotech and Hamilton-T1 Ventilator), emergency preparedness tools (Etón BoostTurbine 4000 and SpareOne plus phone) and examples of socially responsible design (Tiny House grown with Ecovative’s Mushroom Insulation, PackH2O Water Backpack, and Protein Pods and a New Coat of Paint).

The People’s Design Award is part of Cooper-Hewitt’s largest public education initiative, National Design Week, Oct. 12-Oct. 20. Previous winners of the People’s Design Award include Marianne Cusato, designer of the Katrina Cottage, Toms Shoes, the Zōn Hearing Aid, the Trek Lime Bicycle, the Braille Alphabet Bracelet and Design Matters, a show about design and culture.

National Design Week is made possible in part by the generous sponsorship of Target.
National Design Awards are made possible in part by Procter and Gamble and SodaStream. Additional support is provided in part by Design Within Reach. National Design Award trophies are created by The Corning Museum of Glass. The National Design Awards Gallery is powered by Behance. Media sponsorship is provided by Smithsonian magazine.

National Design Awards and National Design Week professional supporters include AIGA | the professional association for design, American Institute of Architects New York Chapter, American Society of Interior Designers, American Society of Landscape Architects, Industrial Designers Society of America, Interaction Design Association and International Interior Design Association.

About the National Design Awards
First launched at the White House as a project of the White House Millennium Council, the awards were established to broaden awareness of the role of design in daily life by honoring individuals in all areas of design, as well as its patrons and supporters. The National Design Awards are accompanied each year by a variety of public education programs, including lectures, roundtable discussions and workshops.

About Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum
As the only museum in the nation devoted exclusively to historic and contemporary design, Cooper-Hewitt educates, inspires, and empowers people through design. The Museum is undergoing a transformative renovation resulting in 60 percent more gallery space and will open in fall 2014 with an entirely new visitor experience. During the renovation, Cooper-Hewitt’s events and education programs are popping up locally at the Cooper-Hewitt Design Center in Harlem, nationally with the Design in the Classroom program in New Orleans, New York City, San Antonio, and Washington, D.C., and globally with exhibitions in Europe and Asia.