Emerging Designers


Program registration is now open.
Reserve your spot now!

The design field is exploding with in-demand, 21st-century jobs in product design, interaction design, architecture, fashion, and more! Our FREE programs offer high school and college students real-world experiences in design, exploring the many ways designers think and make.

Our hands-on workshops, led by professional designers, will help you build your skills and portfolio. While working on design projects, you’ll also learn about designers’ creative processes.

Past designers and firms include: Todd Oldham, Nike, Kate Spade, J.Crew, Google, Van Cleef & Arpels, Marimekko and many, many more!

Design Prep is made possible by the generous support of Altman Foundation, The Richard and Jean Coyne Family Foundation, and Siegel Family Endowment.



Get a head start on a future in design! Teens in New York City can apply to be a DesignPrep Scholar, a free program that features hands-on workshops with professional designers, design studio visits, and college tours.

The Design Scholars program is open to rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors enrolled in high school in New York City. Students must submit an application for the Design Scholars program. Accepted students must attend required weekly after-school sessions from 4:30 to 6:30 pm on Tuesdays throughout the 2018-2019 school year.

Note: Students can apply for one semester or up two semesters during the 2018-19 school year. Submission of an application does not guarantee selection into the program. Learn more.

Fall 2018: Architecture/Interior/Landscape Design

Interested in designing buildings, public spaces, or interiors? Apply for a semester of problem-solving, creative thinking, and collaboration and gain a deep understanding of architecture, landscape architecture, and interior design. Scholars will meet designers from different fields, visit studios to learn more about the design process, and work on hands-on projects that will help build a portfolio.

Spring 2019: Fashion/Interaction/Graphic/Product Design

Immerse yourself in the worlds of fashion, interaction, graphic, and product design. Apply for a semester of making real-world connections across different design disciplines and engaging in approaches that designers use to address complex challenges. Scholars will meet designers from different fields, visit studios to learn more about the design process, and work on hands-on projects that will help build a portfolio.

Applications for the 2018-19 school year has closed.

Applications for the Spring 2019 are now closed.

For more information, contact us at (212) 849-8353 or chyouthprograms@si.edu. 


As part of DesignPrep, teens can earn digital badges. These digital credentials are based on the design skills and knowledge gathered during any one of DesignPrep’s free programs; they can be shared with friends and teachers, and help with college applications.


Every year during National Design Week, Cooper Hewitt hosts the Teen Design Fair, where teens are invited to talk with top designers working in the fields of fashion, product design, architecture, graphic design, and more! Explore design careers from professional designers, discover career paths, learn the complexities of what designers do, and find out what designers love about their jobs. Design colleges from across the country are also on hand to answer questions.

Past designers include: Tim Gunn, Cynthia Rowley, Isabel and Ruben Toledo, and designers from Facebook, Ann Taylor Loft, Kenneth Cole, Heath Ceramics, Milton Glaser, Smart Design, Pentagram, Rocawear, and Herman Miller.

Past design colleges include: Parsons, SVA, RISD, SAIC, CalArt, FIT, and Pratt.

National High School Design Competition

Taking place annually and organized in collaboration with Target, the National High School Design Competition invites students to design a solution to a real-world challenge. Learn more.

Featured Image: Photograph by Angela Jimenez Photography