2022 National Design Awards Winners

John Hill
7. September 2022
Image: Cooper Hewitt

The 23rd annual awards, announced today, honor "design innovation and impact" in nine categories. These categories have changed over time since the National Design Awards were established in 2000 as a project of the White House Millennium Council, with Climate Action, for instance, added in 2020 to recognize a project that makes "significant contributions to addressing the global climate crisis."

This year's awards follow two years of pandemic-era, virtual programming around the annual awards and festivities, and it is the first with new Cooper Hewitt director Maria Nicanor, who took the post in March of this year. In turn, public programs celebrating the National Design Awards will be taking place in person throughout the year and during the free National Design Week, which takes place at the Cooper Hewitt in New York City from October 17 to 23.

"This year’s National Design Award winners reflect the central role that design can play in addressing some of the most urgent needs of our time. 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. I'm grateful to our thoughtful jury this year for their selection. Their deliberations revealed that behind each winner is a philosophy of work that expertly weaves together technological innovation while elevating traditional craft, or that prioritizes preservation and reparation processes, ultimately designing for citizens, and not consumers — a reason for hope in today’s complex world if there ever was one."

Maria Nicanor

The winners are listed below, followed by more information on the four architecture-related winners (with text excerpts from the museum's announcement), and the names of the jury members at bottom. Visit the Cooper Hewitt website for more information on all the winners.

The 2022 Winners:

  • 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
  • CW&T, Product Design

Design Visionary

Nader Tehrani (Photo: Carmen Maldonado)
Nader Tehrani

"The Design Visionary award, recognizing an individual, company or organization who has made a profound contribution to advancing the field, is given to Nader Tehrani. Tehrani is the founding principal of NADAAA, a practice dedicated to the advancement of design innovation, interdisciplinary collaboration and an intensive dialogue with the construction industry. He is also former dean of the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture at the Cooper Union. Tehrani’s work lies in building bridges between education and practice, creating healthy institutions to ensure equity, democracy and education for all."

Nader Tehrani, RISD North Hall, a new dormitory and studio for the Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, Rhode Island, 2019. (Photo: John Horner)

Climate Action

David Hertz (Photo: Laura Doss Photography)
WEDEW by David Hertz

"The Climate Action award recognizes a design project for its significant contributions to addressing the urgency of the global climate crisis. The winner of this year’s award is WEDEW. Designed by architect David Hertz, WEDEW is a self-contained, transportable and sustainable water and energy generator that converts biomass into essential human resources. WEDEW operates at the intersection of food, energy, water and carbon transformation. The processes of biomass gasification and atmospheric water generation have been combined in a single system that creates valuable resources while closing waste streams."

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. (Photo: Laura Doss Photography)

Architecture / Interior Design

Andrew Freear (Photo: Timothy Hursley)
Rural Studio

"Given to an individual or firm for their contributions to the built environment that advance the understanding of spatial experiences, this year’s National Design Award for Architecture / Interior Design goes to Rural Studio. Through almost three decades of hands-on, place-based teaching and learning, Rural Studio is regarded as one of the oldest, most influential and well-respected design-build programs in the world. It is located in Hale County, Alabama, and led by professor and director Andrew Freear. As part of the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture at Auburn University, the core mission of Rural Studio is the education of architecture students who live on-site and design and build structures for residents and communities in the under-resourced, persistently impoverished rural region known as the Black Belt."

Rural Studio, Thermal Mass & Buoyancy Ventilation Research Project, Newbern, Alabama, 2021. Faculty: Andrew Freear, Rusty Smith, Steve Long. Students: Cory Subasic, Jeff Jeong, Livia Barrett, Rowe Price. Research Partners: Salmaan Craig, Kiel Moe, David Kennedy. (Photo: Timothy Hursley)

Landscape Architecture

Chelina Odbert (Photo: MinxFilms)
Kounkuey Design Initiative

"The Landscape Architecture award recognizes an individual or firm for their contributions to the integration between the built, urban and natural environments and for advancing the understanding of spatial experiences. This year’s award is presented to Kounkuey Design Initiative (KDI), an interdisciplinary practice committed to building a more just public realm: one that is complete, inclusive and resilient. Rooted in landscape architecture, KDI works across urban planning, policy, research, architecture and civil engineering to expand equity and inclusivity in places that have long been overlooked or actively harmed by traditional design and planning approaches. Founded in 2006 by six then-students at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, KDI has grown into a 60-person team led by Chelina Odbert, working from four offices: Los Angeles; Coachella Valley, California; Nairobi, Kenya; and Stockholm."

Kounkuey Design Initiative, Eastern Coachella Valley Initiative, Coachella, California, 2011–ongoing. (Photo: Courtesy of Kounkuey Design Initiative)

The 2022 Jury:

  • Marlon Blackwell (chair), principal, Marlon Blackwell Architects
  • Cheryl Barton, founding principal, STUDIO/CB
  • Travis Fitch, principal, Fitchwork
  • Rick Griffith, partner and graphic designer, MATTER
  • Christina Kim, designer, dosa
  • Susana Rodríguez de Tembleque, vice president of design, IBM Research, IBM
  • Raja Schaar, program director and associate professor of product design, Drexel University

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