2022 Design Competition

The 2022 Design Challenge


Peace is one of our most valued and sought-after human conditions. It is more than just the absence of war and signifies respect and well-being for all. Yet today, there are ongoing conflicts and vast social, environmental, and economic inequities in our communities and around the world. The United Nations calls for action to ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030. This is where peacebuilders, designers, communities (and you!) step in. They are designing for peace through projects that creatively challenge the status quo, embrace justice and truth, support safe, healthy, respectful environments, and more.

The 2022 National High School Design Competition challenged high school students around the country to join in envisioning the future we want to live in and designing for a more peaceful and just world.

The Selection Process

In Stage One, participants identified an opportunity related to increasing peace and justice in the world and designed a solution. Participants created a sketch of their idea and described how the design addressed the challenge. Cooper Hewitt selected three finalists to proceed to Stage Two of the Design Competition through an anonymous judging based on the criteria of innovation, impact, relevance, and communication.

During Stage Two, the three finalists furthered their designs using the Stage Two Brief document and participated in a mentor phone call during April 2022 for initial feedback. During the virtual Mentor Weekend on May 14–15, 2022 they took a deeper dive into the design process, learned more about addressing challenges through design, explored the design field, and worked on their presentations for Judging Weekend. Then the finalists participated in the virtual Judging Weekend on June 11–12, 2022 and presented to the esteemed judges.

Design Competition Resources

Interested in using the 2022 challenge in your classroom? Explore these resources:

Take a look at a few ways people are designing for a more peaceful and just world:

How might design support safe, healthy, respectful environments?

  • Harass Map by Rebecca Chiao, Sawsan Gad, and Engy Ghozlan: This platform reports sexual harassment. Anyone can share an incident with the location, date, and time. They can also include personal and witness accounts, and any interventions.
  • The Adventures of Daly Graphic Novels by Lab 619 and Search for Common Ground: This is a comic book series shared with vulnerable Tunisian youth. It is meant to help them build skills to understand and think through alternatives to violence.
  • Social Emergency Response Center by Design Studio for Social Intervention: These are temporary, emergent, and creative spaces. They pop up in response to a new attack on a population or to a long-standing injustice. They are co-led by activists and artists around the United States.

How can design address the root causes of conflict?

  • Papers, Please by Lucas Pope: The player in this video game acts as a border-crossing immigration officer in a fictional country of Arstotzka. The country does not get along with the countries that neighbor it.
  • Stalled! by JSA/MIXdesign with Susan Stryker, Terry Kogan, Quemuel Arroyo, and Antonia Caba: This project creates safe, sustainable, and inclusive public restrooms. It can be used by anyone regardless of age, gender, race, culture, religion, and abilities.

What ways can design support transitions from instability to peace?

  • Ideas Box by Philippe Starck: This is a pop-up media center and learning hub. It provides education and tools for refugees, displaced people in camps, and underserved communities in developed countries.
  • Safe Passage Bags by Lesvos Solidarity: These bags are made out of lifejackets that were used by refugees who crossed the Aegean Sea from Turkey to Greece. The bags are made by refugees and locals. They give the lifejackets new meaning and keep them from being trash.

How might we design creative confrontation?

  • Black Lives Matter Harlem Street Mural This street mural reaffirms that the Black community matters. It features the work of Harlem artists and community organizations. It adds to the many Black Lives Matter street murals around the country.
  • Maps (Bullet Rug series) by DETEXT: These rugs are made from bullet shells. Creating these rugs exposes stories of war, violence, and military interventions.
  • Teeter-Totter Wall by Rael San Fratello with Colectivo Chopeke: This is a set of pink seesaws placed through the small openings of the US-Mexico border wall. They encourage interaction and dialogue across both sides of the border.

How might design embrace justice and truth in a search for reconciliation?

  • My Ancestors’ Garden by Hood Design Studio: This design memorializes the place where nearly half of all enslaved Africans were brought to North America. The landscape is marked with a lawn and brick design to show a full-size diagram of a packed slave ship.
  • Paper Monuments by Colloqate: This public art and history project is designed to uplift the voices of the people of New Orleans. It creates new stories that represent all New Orleanians and their histories. The project included a poster campaign, installations, public proposals, and events and workshops.

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The 2022 Judges

A diverse panel of creative experts met with the finalists to review and discuss their designs, and selected the winner on June 12, 2022.

The 2022 Judges were:

  • Gray Garmon, Director of the Center for Integrated Design, University of Texas School of Design and Creative Technologies
  • Pragya Mishra, Creative Director and Associate Partner, Dalberg Design
  • Ronald Rael, Creative Partner, Rael San Fratello, and Eva Li Memorial Chair in Architecture, University of California Berkeley
  • Martha Rich, artist
  • Kim Robledo-Diga, Director of Learning and Audience Engagement, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
  • Julia Tian, Creativity for All lead – Adobe philanthropy, Adobe, Inc.
  • The 2022 Mentors

    The finalists attended a virtual Mentor Weekend on May 14–15, 2022 with mentors:

    • Kenneth Bailey (Lead Mentor), Co-founder, Design Studio for Social Intervention (ds4si)
    • Bella Jacobs, 2019 National High School Design Competition

    Guest Speakers

    Finalists also had the opportunity to hear from guest speakers:

    • Nadine Bloch, Training Director, Beautiful Trouble
    • Michael Ellsworth, Partner and Pricipal, Civilization
    • Caroline O’Connell, Curatorial Assistant at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

The 2022 Competition Winner

Congratulations to Erin Saya Ahn, sophomore at Roosevelt High School in Seattle, WA, for being named the winner of the 2022 National High School Design Competition.

Her project, Aid To-Go, is a medical diagnosis brochure that enables easy doctor-patient communication, encouraging inclusivity as a step toward health equity and world peace. The brochure allows the patient to express their needs, regardless of linguistic or speech barriers by removing social, religious, and gender obstacles so the patient can get the care they need. Watch the presentations and explore the projects of all the finalists and honorable mention recipients.

The 2022 Finalists

Congratulations to the finalists, who were announced online on March 31, 2022:

  • Erin Saya Ahn, grade 10
    Roosevelt High School, Seattle, WA
  • Bianca Arcayena, grade 12
    Bergen County Academies, Hackensack, NJ, Teacher: Scott Lang
  • Sohan Chunduru, grade 12
    La Jolla Country Day School, La Jolla, CA, Teacher: Dan Lenzen

The 2022 Honorable Mentions

Cooper Hewitt announced 15 Honorable Mentions on March 31, 2022. Congratulations!

  • Breanna Avalos-Villatoro, grade 10
    Granada Hills Charter High School, Granada Hills, CA
    Teacher: Narae Kim
  • Caroline Berthin, grade 12
    Design and Architecture Senior High, Miami, FL
    Teacher: Eric Hankin
  • Isabel Bozdogan, grade 12, and Camila Montero, grade 12
    Design and Architecture Senior High, Miami, FL
    Teacher: Eric Hankin
  • Katherine Bell, age 16
    Phillips Academy Andover, Andover, MA
  • Cristina Cruz, grade 11, and Conrad Parsons, grade 11
    Granada Hills Charter High School, Granada Hills, CA
    Teacher: Kani Kim
  • Maile Gaines, grade 11, and Mindy Preston, grade 11
    Communications High School, Wall Township, NJ, Teacher: Shelley Ortner
  • Krystal Jiang, grade 10
    Bergen County Academies, Hackensack, NJ
    Teacher: Scott Lang
  • Lucy Montalti, grade 10
    Bergen County Academies, Hackensack, NJ
    Teacher: Scott Lang
  • Eleanor Pimentel, grade 12
    Moscow Senior High School, Moscow, ID
  • Sophia Shin, grade 11
    Bergen County Academies, Hackensack, NJ, Teacher: Scott Lang
  • Thea Angella Tenorio, grade 12
    Redwood High School, Larkspur, CA
  • Renee Wang, grade 10
    The Bishop’s School, La Jolla, CA
  • Lake Wiesmayr-Cheuk, grade 11
    Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School, New York, NY

2022 Special Thanks

The National High School Design Competition is made possible with major support from Shelby and Frederick Gans. Generous support is also provided by Adobe.