National Design Awards Submission Guidelines

8 pointed star glass trophy

Welcome!

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 2021. We look forward to your submission!

Submission Site

To register and submit your materials, visit www.cooperhewitt.org/nda2021.

Submission Deadline

All materials must be submitted by Friday, April 23, 2021, 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time.

Questions?

Below are tips from jurors, as well as responses to 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 designawards@si.edu. Phone calls can be scheduled over email. If you prefer to call, please leave a message at 212.849.8337 and we will return your call as soon as possible.

Tips from Previous National Design Awards Jury

  • Submissions that followed the guidelines are viewed favorably.
  • The short (2 minutes or less) and dynamic video is enormously helpful in giving the jury a general overview of you and your work, especially when it is in your own voice and more personal. These need not be professionally produced nor follow a specific format—be bold!
  • The concise 150 word biography and 150 word statement are very helpful in introducing the jurors to you and your work, particularly with statements that were more personal and clear. 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 are very beneficial to the jury. As appropriate, note the context of the project, the motivation behind the work, and its larger impact and relevance. Include data to articulate impact when available.
  • 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 and how it reflects on you or your firm/company/organization. Make it personal and specific to this competition.
  • For organizations, companies, or institutions specific to the Design Visionary category, demonstrate that design is integral to your mission.

 

Frequently asked questions

Is there a fee to submit to the 2021 National Design Awards?
There is no submission fee.

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

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

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 designawards@si.edu.

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.

When will you announce the 2021 National Design Awards Jury?
The jury will be announced along with the Award winners in summer 2021. Browse a list of previous winners and jurors.

2021 Submission Checklist Overview

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

ALL CATEGORIES (Except Climate Action):

  • Bio/history (150 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.

CLIMATE ACTION AWARD:

  • 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 to consider

  • Your submission must note the innovation and impact of each project, as well as how the project addresses contemporary challenges and opportunities.
    • 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.

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

  • To what extent have communities, on a local, national, or global level, benefited from the explorations and achievements of the nominee?
  • To what extent has the nominee exhibited professional responsibility toward securing a brighter future for all?
  • Has the nominee demonstrated excellence in their process and body of work?
  • Has the nominee broadened the conventions of their discipline?
  • Has the nominee expressed extraordinary originality, authenticity, and imagination in their work with identifying and solving problems—both formally and practically?
  • Have levels of skill, craftsmanship, and insight remained consistently high throughout the nominee’s career to date?
  • 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?

SAMPLE PORTFOLIO SUBMISSIONS

A portfolio book containing ten projects, with images and a brief description for each project is required. Here are a few recent examples that were successful in the past:

Open Style Lab: 2019 National Design Awards Portfolio Sample

Design I/O: 2020 National Design Awards Portfolio Sample

Catapult Design: 2020 National Design Awards Portfolio Sample

OJB Landscape Architecture: 2020 National Design Awards Portfolio Sample 

TELFAR: 2020 National Design Awards Portfolio Sample

 

Sample Videos

A dynamic video presentation that introduces yourself and your work, not to exceed 2 minutes. Videos need not be professionally produced but should convey the strength of the nominee to the jury. Here are a few examples that were successful in the past:

Behind the Scenes

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