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Home » Selection Process

Selection Process

Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum’s annual National Design Awards celebrate extraordinary achievement across a range of disciplines. Awards are given for a body of realized work rather than for a specific project. Eligibility is restricted to citizens or long-term residents of the United States and corporations or institutions headquartered in the country. Individuals or firms must have a minimum of seven years of professional experience in order to be considered.

Award candidates are nominated by a national committee of more than 1,500 design professionals, educators, critics, and patrons. Candidates proposed by the nominating committee are invited to submit materials for review, including resumes, portfolios, publications by and about the candidates, and visual samples.

Cooper-Hewitt convenes a jury of design leaders to review submissions each year. The jury gives careful consideration to the designers and firms whose work best embodies the Awards’ mission and portfolios are judged based on excellence, innovation and enhancement of the quality of life. Jurors are asked to consider the broad spectrum of the design community–geographically, culturally, and artistically.

Extraordinary originality in identifying, shaping, and solving problems is valued highly, and nominees whose work significantly broadens the conventions of their discipline, introduces formal innovation, and exhibits consistently high levels of imagination and insight are given special consideration. Finally, in keeping with Cooper-Hewitt’s definition of design as a force of change, the jury weighs the extent to which the general public has benefited from the explorations and achievements of each nominee.