Upon learning of his or her status as a finalist for the National Design Award, even the most jaded architect, typographer, or trophy-laden lifetime achiever cannot suppress a fist pump and a wild-eyed declaration: “I’m goin’ to the White House!” The highly anticipated field trip (don’t forget to bring your government-issued I.D.!) usually takes place in July, when the fish are jumpin’, the cotton is high, and post Labor Day-obligations are still weeks away. Not this year. The winners and finalists of the 2011 National Design Awards will be feted in Our Nation’s Capital next Tuesday, September 13, when First Lady Michelle Obama hosts a White House ceremony (past attendees have been known to pocket the whimsical table decorations, along with their elegantly lettered placecards). “The First Lady is an influential champion of design and arts education, and we are honored to once again have her support as honorary patron of the National Design Awards,” said Bill Moggridge, director of the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, and the recipient of the 2009 award for lifetime achievement.
Before the White House luncheon, 2011 NDA winners including Matthew Carter (lifetime achievement) and Steven Heller (design mind) will participate in an education program for local high school students. The Teen Design Fair will take place at the Smithsonian’s Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture and once again feature a keynote address by Tim Gunn. Considering that this year’s festivities are taking place during New York Fashion Week—prompting National Design Award winner Gilles Mendel to reschedule his show and preventing finalists Prabal Gurung and Jason Wu from making the trip to D.C.—a “Make it work!” is surely in order. Meanwhile, the Cooper-Hewitt will celebrate the winners and finalists on October 20 at a gala dinner at Pier Sixty in New York.