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Arts & Entertainment

Design awards go to array of creators

| Saturday, Oct. 22, 2005

NEW YORK -- It's all about design -- from a scarf to the viewing platforms at ground zero to signs for the Chicago Bears and even recycled underwear.

Eleven individuals and companies have won the annual National Design Awards -- a kind of Oscars of design announced Thursday at Manhattan's Cooper-Hewitt Museum of Design and Decorative Arts, a branch of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington.

The presenters included Alexis Stewart (Martha's daughter), musician Lou Reed and former NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw.

"Designers are the unsung heroes of our society," Cooper-Hewitt director Paul Thompson said. "Design is not at all highfalutin' -- the designer touches every single aspect of our daily life."

Take, for instance, underwear and the Patagonia sports-apparel company, which won the corporate-achievement award with its innovative, environmentally savvy promotion. Customers are asked to bring back worn-out undergarments for recycling into new underwear.

"It's polyester, and it goes back into virgin polyester, while we save close to 70 percent of energy manufacturing recycled materials. That's taking a product and making it back into the same product," Patagonia CEO Michael Crooke said from company headquarters in Ventura, Calif.

The awards were bestowed by an international panel of design experts -- one working for Italy's Ferrari auto maker, another for Austria's Swarovski crystal company -- and the awards reflect work "that demonstrates to people that good design makes life more efficient and more uplifting," Thompson said.

The other winners:

  • Stefan Sagmeister, for communications design.
  • Toledo Studio, for fashion design.
  • Eva Zeisel, for her lifetime achievement in ceramics.
  • Katherine and Michael McCoy, in the "design mind" category.
  • Sergio Palleroni, special jury commendation for architecture.
  • Burt Rutan, for product design.
  • Ned Kahn, for landscape design.
  • Diller Scofidio + Renfro, for architecture.
  • Richard Daley, mayor of Chicago, for being an urban-design patron.
  • Richard Gluckman, for interior design.

The signage for the new Chicago headquarters of the NFL Bears was designed by Katherine McCoy, who, with her husband, Michael McCoy, won as a "design mind" team that has influenced a generation.

After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack, the New York firm of Diller Scofidio + Renfro conceived the platforms from which visitors could look into the pit of smoldering debris from Manhattan's twin towers.

Rutan is an aircraft designer known for Voyager, the first plane to fly around the world without refueling.

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