Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum Unveils 2022 National Design Award Winners

Peter Bennetts
Nader Tehrani, Melbourne School of Design, a new design school for the University of Melbourne (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 2014). Collaborator: John Wardle Architects

The Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York has revealed the 2022 winners of the National Design Awards, an annual award series devoted to recognizing innovation and achievement in a variety of design specialties. This year’s honors feature experts in nine categories: design visionary, climate action, emerging designer, architecture/interior design, communication design, digital design, fashion design, landscape architecture, and product design.

“[The 2022] National Design Award winners reflect the central role that design can play in addressing some of the most urgent needs of our time,” said museum director Maria Nicanor in a press release. “Attuned to increasing social and planetary challenges, all awardees, regardless of their category, have a regenerative approach to design work that takes into account our shared future.”

Selected by a panel of designers, the 2022 winners are Nader Tehrani (design visionary); WEDEW by David Hertz (climate action); Emily Adams Bode (emerging designer); Rural Studio (architecture/interior design); Giorgia Lupi (communication design); Felecia Davis (digital design); Willy Chavarria (fashion design); Kounkuey Design Initiative (landscape architecture); and CW&T (product design).

Nader Tehrani is this year’s recipient of the design visionary award. The founding principal of the Boston-based architecture firm NADAAA, his wide-ranging residential, commercial, and institutional projects span the globe, including countries such as China and France. Tehrani’s many previous accolades include the prestigious Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize, which he received in 2020.

WEDEW generates renewable energy, heat, cooling, biochar, and water inside a 20-foot modified shipping container while sequestering atmospheric carbon into useful applications (Malibu, California, 2021)
Laura Doss Photography
WEDEW generates renewable energy, heat, cooling, biochar, and water inside a 20-foot modified shipping container while sequestering atmospheric carbon into useful applications (Malibu, California, 2021)

The 2022 climate action awardee is WEDEW, a water generator designed by California-based architect David Hertz, FAIA. It can manufacture more than 2,000 liters of water in one day while also harnessing excess heat to produce renewable energy. “WEDEW operates at the intersection of food, energy, water, and carbon transformation,” states the Cooper Hewitt release. “The processes of biomass gasification and atmospheric water generation have been combined in a single system that creates valuable resources while closing waste streams.”

Excerpt from Bode SS21 lookbook, titled A Year Off (New York, New York, 2021)
courtesy Bode
Excerpt from Bode SS21 lookbook, titled A Year Off (New York, New York, 2021)

This year’s emerging designer honoree is Atlanta native Emily Adams Bode, who debuted her high-end menswear brand Bode in 2016. The first female designer to present at New York Fashion Week: Men’s, the Parsons School of Design graduate “expresses a sentimentality for the past through the study of personal narratives and historical techniques,” according to the museum release. “Modern workwear silhouettes united with female-centric traditions of quilting, mending, and appliqué shape [her] collections.”

Rural Studio, Thermal Mass & Buoyancy Ventilation Research Project, part of a multi-institutional research project to investigate how to create a more responsible building system.
Timothy Hursley
Rural Studio, Thermal Mass & Buoyancy Ventilation Research Project, part of a multi-institutional research project to investigate how to create a more responsible building system.

Rural Studio is the recipient of the 2022 architecture/interior design award. Part of the School of Architecture, Planning, and Landscape Architecture at Auburn University in Alabama, the immersive program places architecture students in the state’s “under-serviced, persistently impoverished” Black Belt region where they design and build homes for local residents.

Giorgia Lupi, Mindworks: The Science of Thinking, data visualization and experience design for the world’s first working lab dedicated to behavioral science, hosted by the University of Chicago (Chicago, Illinois, 2020). Project Partners: Abbott Miller (Pentagram), Luke Hayman (Pentagram), K&S Partners
Tom Rossiter
Giorgia Lupi, Mindworks: The Science of Thinking, data visualization and experience design for the world’s first working lab dedicated to behavioral science, hosted by the University of Chicago (Chicago, Illinois, 2020). Project Partners: Abbott Miller (Pentagram), Luke Hayman (Pentagram), K&S Partners

This year’s communication design honoree is Giorgia Lupi, a data-visualization expert, TED Talk veteran, and partner at Pentagram—a multidisciplinary design studio with offices in New York, Austin, London, and Berlin. Her clients have included Google, the United Nations, the Museum of Modern Art (where her work belongs to the permanent collection), and more.

Felecia Davis, Stretch Sensor Knit, Pemotex Shrinking Yarn and Stainless Steel Fiber Resistive Yarn (Borås, Sweden and State College, Pennsylvania, 2015). Collaborator: Delia Dumitrescu
courtesy Felecia Davis
Felecia Davis, Stretch Sensor Knit, Pemotex Shrinking Yarn and Stainless Steel Fiber Resistive Yarn (Borås, Sweden and State College, Pennsylvania, 2015). Collaborator: Delia Dumitrescu

Felecia Davis is the winner of the National Design Award for digital design. A specialist in computational textiles—which, according to the Cooper Hewitt release, “respond to their environment via programming, embedded sensors and electronics”—Davis is an associate professor at Pennsylvania State University. Along with nine other designers, she was highlighted in the “Reconstruction: Blackness and Architecture in America” exhibition at MoMA in 2021.

Willy Chavarria, Uncut FW22, a runway show held at the historic Prince George Ballroom—an iconic hotel that fell into ruin and was eventually restored by the organization Breaking Ground to become a homeless shelter
Laura Fuchs
Willy Chavarria, Uncut FW22, a runway show held at the historic Prince George Ballroom—an iconic hotel that fell into ruin and was eventually restored by the organization Breaking Ground to become a homeless shelter

The recipient of the 2022 fashion design award is Willy Chavarria. Inspired by his childhood in California’s San Joaquin Valley, the senior vice president of design at Calvin Klein creates conceptual clothing “that blends the emotion of art and modern politics into a reactionary story of the human will,” the museum release states. “[Chavarria’s] collection has a hard edge with a strong message of anti-hate sentiment, including bold statements about racial, economic and sexual identity.”

courtesy Kounkuey Design Initiative
The Kibera Public Space Project, by KDI

This year’s landscape architecture winner is Kounkuey Design Initiative. With practices in the U.S., Kenya, and Sweden, the 16-year-old firm combines disciplines such as urban planning and civil engineering to produce equitable and inclusive green spaces. KDI has collaborated with the World Bank, Harvard University, the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, and others.

The Pen Type-B, by CW&T
Courtesy CW&T
The Pen Type-B, by CW&T

Helmed by Che-Wei Wang and Taylor Levy, New York–based CW&T is the 2022 winner of the product design award. The team’s vast array of creations includes everything from ball bearing-equipped jump ropes, engineered for maximum speed, to compasses for astronauts and 3D printed lamps. This year, their work was included in an exhibition at the Design Museum of Chicago.