National Design Awards Submission Tips

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).

Browse this page for sample materials, suggestions from previous jurors, and frequently asked questions. Note that the submission process is entirely digital. We look forward to your submission!

REGISTRATION & Submission Site

To register and submit your materials, visit www.cooperhewitt.org/nda2025.

Submission Deadline

Prepare and submit the requested materials online by Monday, July 15, 2024. Please note that you will receive instructions on preparing your submission materials upon the completion of the registration portion.

Additional Questions?

Contact the National Design Awards office at designawards@si.edu or 212.849.8337.

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 do not need to be professionally produced or follow a specific format—be bold!
  • The concise 150 word biography and 150 work statement are very helpful in introducing the jurors to you and your work, particularly with statements that are 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, innovation and relevance in improving our world, including by addressing sustainability, equity, and diversity. 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 process. In addition to the concise project descriptions/summaries of each, including multiple images for each project, allows the jurors an opportunity to better understand your work. If multiple groups are involved, clearly list you 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 the National Design Awards.
  • For individuals, companies, or organizations 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 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 title. For all other categories, enter the designer name (individual or name of firm/corporation/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 your portfolio PDF. For the ten 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 5-10 projects for review. The Climate Action Award category is based on a single project.

When will you announce the 2025 National Design Awards Jury?
The jury will be announced along with the Award winners in spring 2025. Browse a list of previous winners and jurors.

SAMPLE PORTFOLIO SUBMISSIONS

A portfolio book containing ten projects (5-10 for Emerging Designer nominees, 1 for Climate Action), with images and a brief description for each project is required. Here are a few excerpts from portfolios that were successful in the past:

Rural Studio: 2022 National Design Awards Portfolio Excerpt (Architecture and Interior Design)

Giorgia Lupi: 2022 National Design Awards Portfolio Excerpt (Communication Design)

Kounkuey Design Initiative: 2022 National Design Awards Portfolio Excerpt (Landscape Architecture)

CW&T: 2022 National Design Awards Portfolio Excerpt (Product Design)

Open Style Lab: 2019 National Design Awards Portfolio Excerpt (Emerging Designer)

Ross Barney Architects: 2021 National Design Awards Portfolio Excerpt (Architecture and Interior Design)

Design I/O: 2020 National Design Awards Portfolio Excerpt (Digital Design)

TELFAR: 2020 National Design Awards Portfolio Excerpt (Fashion Design)

OJB Landscape Architecture: 2020 National Design Awards Portfolio Excerpt (Landscape Architecture)

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:

Submission Checklist Overview

ALL CATEGORIES (Except Climate Action):

  • Bio/History (150 words)
  • Work Statement (150 words)
  • Digital Portfolio, containing 10 projects (5-10 for Emerging Designer nominees), not to exceed 5 pages per project (PDF)
  • 10 digital images (5-10 for Emerging Designer nominees) (TIF or JPG, minimum 6” x 9”, 300 dpi)
  • Captions for the images above (PDF)
  • Video Introduction, not to exceed 2 minutes. Standard HD (1920×1080) is preferable (MOV, AVI, MP4)

CLIMATE ACTION AWARD:

  • Description/Statement (150 words)
  • Bio/Work Statement (150 words)
  • Digital Portfolio detailing the project (not to exceed 20 pages) (PDF)
  • 5-10 digital images (TIF or JPG, minimum 6” x 9”, 300 dpi)
  • Captions for the images above (PDF)
  • Video Introduction, not to exceed 2 minutes. Standard HD (1920×1080) is preferable (MOV, AVI, MP4)

Important Notes to consider

  • Your submission must note the innovation and impact of your body of work in improving our world, including by addressing sustainability, equity, and diversity, as well as how the project addresses contemporary challenges and opportunities.
  • Except for the Climate Action Award which is project based, your submission should best represent the body of work that you or your firm, corporation, or organization have developed throughout your career in relation to the category in which you are submitting. If you are submitting to multiple Design categories, a customized separate submission is required for each category. The jury will consider Design category nominees for the Design Visionary category as well, if eligible; you do not need to submit separately for this. The jury may move your submission to a different category, if appropriate.
  • Materials will be viewed on various personal computers or devices as well as on a large 84” monitor.

Jurors are charged with considering the innovation and impact in improving our world, including by addressing sustainability, equity, and diversity, for each nominees’ body of work, while also considering the following questions:

  • 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 the nominee’s levels of skill, craftsmanship, and insight remained consistently high throughout the nominee’s career to date?
  • 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?
  • If chosen as a winner, what message would this convey to the public and future nominees about the National Design Awards and about the museum’s role as a platform for design?