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2009 National Design Award Winners: A Whirlwind Tour


The National Design Awards, adminstered by the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, are the most prestigious in the U.S. The 2009 winners were just announced. Some of them you may have heard of, others you probably haven't unless you're a designer:

Here is a bit of background on a few of the winners.

Bill Moggridge is the author of a big thick book that is on many design-course sylabbi today: Designing Interactions. But he made his bones in 1981, designing the GRiD Compass, the first world's clam-shell laptop computer—a design that's now standard. He went on to found IDEO.


Amory Lovins is, of course, the MacArthur-winning founder of the Rocky Mountain Instititute, and the author of Natural Capitalism—a kind of manifesto for the green jobs movement.

If you've ever watched CNN, you know Jeff Han and and the company he founded, Perceptive Pixel—They designed the stunning touchscreens that John King and CNN used all throughout the 2008 presidential election. Video of the tech in action.

The Walker Art Center, in Minneapolis, is a powerhouse. They've got an amazing in-house design team, which recently rebranded the entire museum with a ingenous modular "tape" system that's been lauded by graphic designers. In 2005 they expanded, with a new building designed by Herzog and deMueron. And since then, they've put on a host of excellent design shows. They also sponsor numerous design outreach programs, from fellowships to workshops.


SHoP architects is one of the best firms working in the U.S. today. Check out a clever new brick facade they recently designed here and a proposal to further develop New York's South Street Seaport here and a lovely building in Korea here:


The New York Times has been unequalled on the info graphics front in the last two years. You can see some of their best work here and here and here:


Landscape architecture was a tough battle this year—the field is often overlooked, and these awards were crowded with talent. (Personally, I was rooting for Andrea Cochran; we recently gave a taste of the work of Rios Clementi Hale and their Incredible Edible House.) Hood Design is best known work for its superb work for the DeYoung Museum in San Francisco:


TsAO & McKOWN Architects used to specialize in quiet, serene house interiors. But they've moved on to bigger, swankier projects—it's not eye-popping work, but it's professional and polished, through and through.

Boym partners are best known for bringing a conceptual, distinctly European sensibility to product design. For example, in one series of chairs, they made art "functional" by reproducing Old Master canvases and using them as furniture paneling. (A gallery of their works is here.) They're also obsessed by history and pop culture, as you can see in this History Chess Set, which subsumes the bloody monuments of 20th century history into a strategy game: