TOMS Steps Over Floating Pool to Win People’s Design Award

Seventeen months ago, Blake Mycoskie didn’t know a vamp from a toe box, but since then, he has founded a shoe company, sold thousands of pairs worldwide, and, in 10 days, will travel to South Africa to distribute 50,000 free pairs to children there. At last night’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Awards gala in New York, 31-year-old Mycoskie accepted the second annual People’s Design Award on behalf of TOMS Shoes, which edged out the Floating Pool in down-to-the-wire online voting.

But where exactly is the design in a pair of rather grandfatherly canvas slip-ons? “The design isn’t in the shoe but in the business model,” said Mycoskie, referring to the company’s commitment to match the purchase of every pair sold with a pair donated to a child in need. “My hope is that this type of design does not lose its luster.”

Cooper-Hewitt director Paul Warwick Thompson noted the similarities between TOMS and last year’s People’s Design Award winner, Marianne Cusato‘s Katrina Cottage. “I’m delighted that for the second year in a row, the public has chosen a socially conscious design that not only looks great, but helps the lives of less fortunate people around the world,” he said.