DESIGN: Cooper – Hewitt National Design Award Winners Announced

NDA 2012 banner

Even when we’re not looking, we constantly experience the brilliance of nature. But mankind has it’s moments in it’s creativity, with thought provoking ideas, visuals, spaces, products, and more. The 2012 Cooper – Hewitt National Design Award Winners were announced this week.  They highlight some of the best examples of our inventiveness.

Lifetime Achievement: Richard Saul Wurman

While I always found the term “Information Architecture” annoying when looking through job postings, I’m comforted to know the term was coined Mr. Wurman, an architect and Graphic designer who thought that data, like architecture, needed a system of organization and a way to measure it’s performance. He is also one of the founders of TED, a non-profit organization that promotes ideas in [T]echnology, [E]ntertainment, and [D]esign, and collaborations between three, which we at Couch Sessions are all about.

Architecture Design: Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects

Principals Mack Scogin and Merrill Elam of MSME Architects have been practicing architecture for over 40 years and still manage to stay current. Imagine Nas putting out an Illmatic in 2034. Among my favorite Scogin Elam projects are the Museum of the Second World War Competition, and the Nomentana Residence.

Museum of the Second World War International Competition Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects, Inc

Nomentana Residence, Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects

Communication Design: Rebeca Mendez

Rebeca Mendez is a Mexican American artist, communication designer, and educator. Her portfolio includes branding services for the Whitney Museum, IBM, AT&T, architectural installations for Frank Ghery and Thom Mayne of Morphosis, and lectures all over the globe. Some of my favorite projects are a classic Art Center College of Design Catalog from 1995-96, and the University of Cincinnati Student Recreation Center C-Store installation, a project she collaborated on with Thom Mayne of Morphosis which challenges students to think about the products they consume.

Art Center College of Design Catalogue 1995–96

University of Cincinnati C-Store, Rebeca Mendez


Fashion Design: Thom Browne

From salesman at Armani’s showroom, to leading the creative development team of Ralph Lauren’s Club Monaco, to starting his own label, Thom Browne is a great case to argue that people are just born with vision, and it doesn’t always have to be taught. With no formal education he has managed to create a fashion power house. With a clothing line and collaborations with Brooks Brothers and Harry Winston one can argue whether giant student loans are worth as much as getting out there and doing it.

Money Clip, Thom Browne for Harry Winston

Black Fleece, Thom Browne for Brooks Brothers

Interior Design: Clive Wilkinson Architects

Google, Nokia, Twentieth Century Fox, and Disney are on Clive Wilkinson’s client list. But more impressive where the social experiments that their projects produced. I remember reading about the TBWA\Chiat\Day ad agency’s project dubbed ‘Advertising City’ as the copy guy at Gensler and thinking how cool it would be to have a b-ball court in the office while waiting for the endless sets of Gap drawings to start spewing out for me to collate and package. Would’ve made the days fly by. Another favorite are the offices of Macquarie Group Limited with it’s graphically bold stairs that turn at different angles through an atrium.

Macquarie Group Limited, London, UK, Clive Wilkinson Architects

Product Design: Scott Wilson

Scott Wilson has worked for Nike, IDEO, and Motorola and has created some very cool tech products that any of us might recognize, including the TikTok + LunaTik, which turns the nano iPod into a watch. He is also well known in the interiors world for having produced furniture for Quinze & Milan with his M2 Landscape line, and the Sisifo Lamp for Artimede. He also created a nursery furniture line named Ooba, which employs clean modern lines using steel tubes and bent plywood.

Nike Presto, Scott Wilson

TikTok + LunaTik iPod Nano watch, Scott Wilson

M2 Landscape for Quinze & Milan, Scott Wilson

Interaction Design: Evan Roth

Evan Roth is an interaction designer that flips ideas in public and open forums, with projects such as White Glove Tracking, in which internet users tracked Michael Jackson’s glove in a taped performance of ‘Billy Jean’ and made it the star of the show. Wasn’t it always?  After working at the Eyebeam Open Lab, he founded the creative agency Graffitti Research Lab. Roth also teaches visual programming, geek graffiti and internet fame at Parsons The New School for Design. One of my favorite projects is the Jay-Z Brooklyn (Go Hard) Video which creates images of Jigga and Biggie.


Among the other winners are:

Design Mind:  Janine Benyu

Corporate & Institutional Achievement:  Design that Matters

Landscape Architecture:  Stoss Landscape Urbanism


The awards gala will be held at Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers in New York Wednesday, October 17, 2012.