The 13th annual National Design Awards held last Thursday at Chelsea Piers in New York drew its largest crowd yet, with more than 600 art and design luminaries gathering to celebrate the 12 winners. The awards, conceived and produced by Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, featured 10 winners who took home awards in categories ranging from interior design and architecture to fashion and product.
The Lifetime Achievement Award went to architect James Wines, who was presented the award by "old friend" author Tom Wolfe who said of Wines, "He took buildings and turned them into artwork." Wines thanked his friend for agreeing to present the award because, otherwise, Cooper-Hewitt would have gotten Kim Kardashian and "it would have taken her a while to get up to speed."
Former vice president Al Gore was also on hand to present the Corporate & Institutional Achievement award to TED, which was received by Chris Anderson. Other notable winners included architect Michael Sorkin for Design Mind, Studio Gang Architects for Architecture Design and Aidlin Darling Design for Interior Design, among others.
In giving her opening speech, Caroline Baumann, director of Cooper-Hewitt, said, "Shutdown... what shutdown?," referring to her team's efforts to produce the awards event despite the government shutdown, which essentially locked them out of their offices. The answer, of course, was for the team to work at Starbucks. The theme of the night? Construction as conjured up by event designer David Starck, who played off the ongoing renovation of the Cooper-Hewitt museum, which is now closed and will reopen next year with more than double its former gallery space.
The National Design Awards was established in 2000 to honor excellence, innovation and lasting achievement in American design. "Design helps everyone... it saves lives, " said David Fischer, CEO of Greif, as he accepted the People's Design Award for the company's PackH2O Water Backpack, an easy and safe way to transport water that offers relief to women and children in developing countries.