The National Design Awards, now in their 15th year, were conceived by the Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum to honour lasting achievement in American design and therefore reward design practices as a whole rather than individual projects, allowing a body of work to be celebrated.
Brooks + Scarpa was selected as the recipient of the Architecture award in recognition of their "leadership in sustainable and socially progressive design." Led by Angela Brooks and Lawrence Scarpa, the studio's projects include energy-efficient affordable housing development Rosa Gardens in California and UCSD East Campus Parking Garage, a 1,200-car garage set into a hillside and camouflaged into its surroundings in Pittsburgh.
San Francisco–based Andrea Cochran Landscape Architecture won the Landscape Architecture Prize. The firm tackles a wide range of projects, from single-family residences to affordable housing, schools and public parks.
The Design Mind award went to architect Witold Rybczynski. The writer and professor of architecture at the University of Pennsylvania was honoured for his written contributions to the fields of architecture, urbanism and design.
Online craft marketplace Etsy received the award for Corporate and Institutional Achievement, in recognition of its use of design in everything from outreach initiatives to sales. "Their user-friendly technology and innovative approach to retail brings craft and design into everyone's home," said Cooper-Hewitt spokesperson Laurie Bohlk.
Design agency Office won the award for Communication Design. Led by Jason Schulte and Jill Robertson in the belief that "design should make you feel something," the San Francisco–based studio has worked with Google, Disney, Coca-Cola, Target, and IBM.
One of Time Magazine's "25 Most Influential Hispanics in America," Narciso Rodriguez, was recognised with the Fashion Design award. The womenswear designer has been credited with "redefining American style with his simple, sophisticated ready-to-wear collections" said a statement on the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt's website.
The Interaction Design award went to Aaron Koblin, whose projects have involved commissioning 10,000 people to draw a sheep, a 120-foot sculpture visualising global weather, and the first crowd-sourced music video, The Johnny Cash Project.
New York–based Roman and Williams won the prize for Interior Design. Founders Robin Standefer and Stephen Alesch have worked on a wide scale of projects ranging from Hollywood sets and celebrity homes to the award–winning Ace Hotel in New York. They recently designed the newsroom for Huffington Post Live.
Design and engineering firm LUNAR was awarded the prize for Product Design. Founded by Jeff Smith and Gerard Furbershaw, LUNAR has worked across consumer, technology, and life science markets for clients like Oral-B, Apple and Johnson & Johnson.
Ivan Chermayeff and Tom Geismar were presented with the Lifetime Achievement award. As founding partners of Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv, they have pioneered the modern movement of idea-driven graphic design. They have created more than a hundred identities for clients such as Chase Manhattan Bank, PBS, and National Geographic. Chermayeff and Geismar have been awarded almost every accolade in the industry, including the AIGA Gold Medal, the Yale Arts Medal, and inclusion in the Art Directors Club Hall of Fame.
The National Design Awards were established by the White House Millennium Council in 2000 to champion design. Each year, the awards are accompanied by a public engagement programme that includes special events, panel discussions and workshops.
"Through programs like the National Design Awards, the museum fulfils its mission to educate, inspire and empower people through design, locally, nationally and globally," said Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt's director Caroline Baumann, who was appointed last year. "As we celebrate the 15th anniversary of the programme, I am delighted to welcome this new class of extraordinary designers, each of whom represent the very best in their discipline and demonstrate design's power to affect the quality of our life, community, economy and environment."
Last year's National Design Awards included prizes for Jeanne Gang, founder of Studio Gang Architects, and for TED, the nonprofit organisation whose online TED Talks on topics ranging from augmented reality to tying shoelaces surpassed one billion views in 2012.