National Design Awards Submission Guidelines

8 pointed star glass trophy


Once you have registered, please download the Submission Guidelines (for the Climate Action Award, download the Submission Guidelines – Climate Action Award Only). Be sure to also browse this page for additional tips and helpful information. Note that the submission process is entirely digital for 2020. We look forward to your submission!

Submission Site

To register and submit your materials, visit

Submission Deadline

All materials must be submitted by Friday, February 28, 2020, 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time.


Below are responses to some frequently asked questions. If you have any additional questions throughout the submission process, please do not hesitate to contact the National Design Awards office at or 212.849.8337.

Is there a fee to submit to the 2020 National Design Awards?
There is no submission fee.

How many images can I include in my digital portfolio?
You may include multiple images for each project in the portfolio. For the ten digital images and captions requested, we ask that you select one image that best represents each project.

Do I have to submit ten projects?
The National Design Awards are given for a body of realized work, not for any one specific project, so we do ask that nominees submit ten projects for review. Please note that these projects should best represent your body of work. A range of work (old and new) is recommended. Exceptions to this rule are as follows: Submissions for Emerging Designer need only include 5-10 projects for review. The Climate Action Award category is based on a single project.

Did you receive my submission?
You will receive an automated confirmation email once you submit your materials.

Can I messenger my package or hand deliver it?
As of 2020, all entries must be submitted digitally through the online platform. Hard copy materials sent or delivered to the museum will not be accepted.

When will you announce the 2020 National Design Awards Jury?
The jury will be announced along with the Award winners, by June 2020. Browse a list of previous winners and jurors.

What do I enter as the nominee in the form?
If you are a climate action nominee, enter the project tittle. For all other categories, enter the designer name (individual or name of company/firm/organization).

The form will not let me select more than one category. I was nominated for two. How should I proceed?
Please register separately for each category you have been nominated for and plan to submit to. You will need to complete a separate, customized submission for each category.

I am not receiving emails to change my password.
Please contact us at or 212.849.8337.

How will the jury view my material?
All materials will be viewed digitally. No physical materials will be accepted.

Tips from Previous National Design Awards Jury

  • Submissions that followed the guidelines were viewed favorably.
  • A short (2 minutes or less) video testimonial in the nominee’s voice was a new requirement for 2019 (previously, this was optional). These were enormously helpful in giving the jury a general overview of the candidate and his or her work. These need not be professionally produced.
  • The concise 100 word biography and 150 word statement were very helpful in introducing the jurors to you and your work, particularly with statements that were more personal. Remember that the jurors come from all different disciplines of design and may not already be familiar with your work or field.
  • Concise project descriptions/summaries of each project (each book, for Design Mind nominees) were very beneficial to the jury. As appropriate, note the context of the project, the motivation behind the work, and its larger impact and relevance.
  • The portfolio of ten projects should include your strongest work and should speak to the evolution of your work. In addition to the concise project descriptions/summaries of each project, including multiple images for each project allows the jurors an opportunity to better understand your work. If multiple groups are involved, clearly list your or your firm’s role. Also include any collaborators and their roles in the project, as applicable. Clearly show dates of projects and allow the jury to easily see the span of your career.
  • Consider the overall design and presentation of the portfolio book and how it reflects on you or your firm/company/organization. Make it personal and specific to this competition.

2020 Submission Checklist Overview

For full details, please refer to the complete Submission Guidelines (for Climate Action, download the Submission Guidelines – Climate Action Award Only).

ALL CATEGORIES (Except Climate Action):

  • Bio/history (100 words).
  • Statement (150 words).
  • Digital Portfolio, containing 10 projects (5-10 for Emerging Designer nominees)
  • 10 digital images (5-10 for Emerging Designer nominees) in TIF (preferable) or JPEG format, minimum 6” x 9”, 300 dpi.
  • Captions for the images above.
  • Video testimonial, not to exceed 2 minutes.



  • Statement (150 words).
  • Bio/History (150 words).
  • Digital Portfolio detailing the project (not to exceed 20 pages)
  • 5-10 digital images and captions in TIF (preferable) or JPEG format, minimum 6” x 9”, 300 dpi.
  • Video testimonial, not to exceed 2 minutes.

Important Notes

  • Your submission must note the innovation and impact of each project, as well as how the project supports a sustainable future, when relevant.
  • Your submission should best represent the body of work that you or your firm, corporation, or institution have developed throughout your career, in relation to the category in which you are submitting. The jury may move your submission to a different category, if appropriate.
  • Do not send physical materials, original artwork, or product samples. Additional supplemental materials, including, but not limited to, letters of support and books, will not be accepted.
  • You will receive an automated confirmation email once you submit your materials.

Jurors are charged with considering the innovation and impact of each nominees’ work, while also considering the following questions:

  • To what extent has society benefited from the explorations and achievements of the nominee?
  • Has the nominee considered the effects of climate change and to what extent has the nominee exhibited professional responsibility toward securing a more sustainable future for all?
  • Has the nominee demonstrated excellence in his or her process and path for achieving success?
  • Has the nominee expressed extraordinary originality and authenticity in his or her work with identifying and solving problems—both formally and practically?
  • Does the nominee’s work challenge the imagination?
  • If chosen as a winner, what message would this convey to the public and future nominees about the Awards? About the museum’s role as a platform for design?


A portfolio book containing ten projects, with images and a brief description for each project is required. Here are three examples that were successful in the 2016 National Design Awards:

Ammunition: 2016 National Design Award Winner Portfolio Sample

Studio O+A: 2016 National Design Award Winner Portfolio Sample

Tellart: 2016 National Design Award Winner Portfolio Sample

Sample Video Testimonials

A simple video testimonial that introduces yourself and your work, not to exceed 2 minutes, is highly encouraged. Videos need not be professionally produced, but should convey the strength of the nominee to the jury. Here are three examples that were successful in the 2016 and 2017 National Design Awards:

Behind the Scenes

Read more about the selection process and hear from previous National Design Awards jurors in the videos below.