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awards + competitions

Ready the Creamed Corn! Canstruction Returns to New York

Gensler WSP Flack + Kurtz - CAN’s Best Friend
Can’s Best Friend. Koons meets canned goods in this entry by Gensler and WSP Flack + Kurtz.

Ever dreamed of recreating a Richard Serra sculpture with tomatoes from the pantry? Erecting a monumental tribute to Alexander McQueen’s armadillo heel using only canned peas and elbow grease? What about constructing a truly giant giant panda that can feed hundreds? Teams from top architecture and engineering firms will prove that they can do it, and for a good cause. The international charity competition that is Canstruction returns to New York City this month and with it the opportunity for teams of architects, engineers, and students they mentor to design and build giant structures made entirely from unopened cans of food—all of which are ultimately donated to City Harvest.

For its twenty-first go-round in Gotham, Canstruction has lined up 26 teams representing the likes of Skidmore Owings and Merrill, Arup, Gensler, and HOK. Their carefully stacked creations will be judged in categories that include Best Use of Labels, Best Meal, Structural Ingenuity, and Most Cans. The works will be on view at Brookfield Place from October 31 through November 13. Visitors are encouraged to bring non-perishable foods that will be donated along with the cans used in the competition to City Harvest.

PackH2O Wins People’s Design Award


PackH2O packThe people have spoken, and selected PackH2O as the winner of the 2013 People’s Design Award, announced by presenter Todd Oldham at the Cooper-Hewitt‘s National Design Awards ceremony and gala held last night in New York. Designed and manufactured by Greif, the water backpack—a life-changing alternative to buckets and jerry cans designed to carry water home—takes its place alongside past winners including Design Matters, Trek’s Lime Bike, and Toms Shoes.

“Our goal is to ease the daily burden of water transport for women and children, enable fast, high-volume emergency relief and provide simple, affordable micro-business opportunities,” say the team behind Columbus, Ohio-based PackH2O, which bested a slate of 20 nominated works, ranging from popular apps to medical devices, that emphasize how innovative design can make a difference in daily life.

Cooper-Hewitt Celebrates National Design Awards: Highlights from Winners’ Panel

It’s National Design Week, and tonight the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum will celebrate the winners of the 2013 National Design Awards with a ceremony and dinner at Pier Sixty in New York. Special guests including Tom Wolfe, Al Gore, and Kurt Andersen will be on hand to present the winners with their coveted glass asterisks, while the delightful Todd Oldham will announce the winner of this year’s People’s Design Award. We sent writer Nancy Lazarus to the National Design Awards Winners’ Panel, held at Parsons The New School for Design.

(Angela Jimenez)
Richard Saul Wurman (center) moderates a discussion among NDA winners. Pictured from left, Tiya Gordon, Paula Scher, Gadi Amit, and Mike Femia. (Photos: Angela Jimenez)

Four of this year’s National Design Award winners appeared at a Tuesday evening panel moderated by Richard Saul Wurman, TED founder and 2012 lifetime achievement award winner. Topics encompassed winners’ early career experiences, current projects, and the award’s impact. Below are selected comments from each winning designer or firm.

Paula Scher, principal at Pentagram (communications design):
• “It’s a big deal that the U.S. government honors design, and it’s important to society. If the accolade is a seal of approval, that’s fantastic, but the next day, business is still business.”
• “At Pentagram we’re independent minded designers, there are no strategists. We establish direct client relationships using analogies and entertainment.”
• “With my hobby, large-scale paintings of maps, I use information to create the spirit of a place. It’s the antidote to my design life where I create corporate communications identities.”
• “During my earlier experience creating graphic design for music covers/albums, I learned about the relationship with the public. My work at Pentagram is still largely connected to entertainment, and much of the identity work is focused on making design accessible.”
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Marc Newson to Receive Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Collab Design Excellence Award


Ready your bright yellow Pentax K-01, because Marc Newson is bound for our shores. The Sydney-born, London-based industrial designer will be in Philadelphia next month to collect his Collab Design Excellence Award, bestowed annually by a collaboration of design professionals supporting the modern and contemporary design collections at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Past winners of the award include Paula Scher and Seymour Chwast, Zaha Hadid, Marcel Wanders, and Frank Gehry.

After picking up his snazzy statue, Newson will give a lecture about his work and inaugurate the museum’s exhibition, “Marc Newson: At Home.” Opening to the public on November 23, the show is a feast of Newsonian domestic delights—from his rapid-prototyped Dish Doctor dish rack to the 021C (read: Pantone orange) concept car he designed for Ford—arrayed inside an abstracted 2,000-square-foot house and garage.
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Carrie Mae Weems Among New Crop of MacArthur Fellows

Carrie Mae Weems

Syracuse, New York-based artist Carrie Mae Weems is among the 24 new fellows of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Announced today, the 2013 cohort of MacArthur Fellows—selected for “their creativity, originality, and potential to make important contributions in the future”—also includes choreographer Alexei Ratmansky, writer Donald Antrim, and audio savior Carl Haber, an experimental physicist developing new technologies for preserving inaccessible and deteriorating sound recordings. Each fellow will receive $500,000 in no-strings-attached support over the next five years. The MacArthur Foundation has previously bestowed its unrestricted largess upon fellows such as architect Jeanne Gang, typographer Matthew Carter, filmmaker Errol Morris, artist Tara Donovan, and lighting designer Jennifer Tipton. Click below to watch the foundation’s video of Weems at work:
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Voting Opens for People’s Design Award

vote for design.jpgPast winners of the People’s Design Award, launched by the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in 2006 to complement its annual National Design Awards, have ranged from the Katrina Cottage and Toms Shoes to a Braille Alphabet Bracelet and the cultural force that is Debbie Millman‘s Design Matters. As for the 2013 winner, it’s up to you, and by “you,” we mean anyone who votes—early and often (OK, daily)—here.

From today through the evening of October 11, you can browse and vote for your favorite of a field of nominated designs including transportation solutions, designs for healthy living, educational products, interactive design, landscape design, medical devices, emergency preparedness tools, and socially responsible design. The winner will be announced on October 17 at the National Design Awards Gala in New York City and on the Smithsonian’s voting site.

FIT Couture Council to Honor Michael Kors; Relive His Best Project Runway Quips

New York Fashion Week is once again upon us and kicking things into high gear tomorrow at Lincoln Center is the Couture Council luncheon. The wildly popular event, which is looking to best last year’s $1 million haul to benefit the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, will honor Michael Kors with the Couture Council award for Artistry of Fashion. Past recipients include Ralph Rucci, Karl Lagerfeld, and Oscar de la Renta.

“Michael Kors has been nominated repeatedly by members of the Couture Council Advisory Committee,” said Museum at FIT director Valerie Steele, referring to the group of journalists, retailers, and curators that includes Glenda Bailey, Hamish Bowles, Ken Downing, and Linda Fargo. “The committee’s mandate is to not only look at the previous year’s accomplishments, but at a lifetime of contributions to fashion.”
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Last Chance to Enter Dyson Awards

Would-be entrepreneurs, the time is now to throw your newfangled, solar-powered, air-purifying, self-cleansing hat into the ring for the James Dyson Award, a competition open to students studying product design, industrial design, and engineering at the university level (or recent graduates) in 18 countries, including the United States and Canada. Entries close August 1.

“We’re looking for people who rather than accept a problem, go further to design a simple and effective solution,” says Dyson. Last year’s big winner was Royal College of Art grad Dan Watson‘s SafetyNet, a device to increase the sustainability of fishing. As for this year’s competition, there’s buzz brewing around bike safety. Nathan Wills from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena has a new take on the bicycle helmet in the Torch T1, an LED-embedded cranium protector that is visible from 360 degrees. Another illuminating project comes from a group of Stanford students, who turned to Kickstarter to help develop Revolights, LED rings that mount directly to each wheel.

Illustration of James Dyson and his trusty Air Multiplier by Adrian Tomine for The New Yorker.

Ellsworth Kelly, George Lucas, Laurie Olin Among National Medal of Arts Recipients

President Obama welcomed the latest recipients of the National Medal of Arts and the National Humanities Medal to the White House yesterday for a ceremony in the East Room. Among the honorees present to pick up their hardware was Ellsworth Kelly, who has had a banner ninetieth year, with solo shows at MoMA, the Phillips Collection, the Barnes Foundation, and Matthew Marks, to name a few. The citation read at the ceremony lauded the artist as “a careful observer of form, color, and the natural world [who] has shaped more than half a century of abstraction and remains a vital influence in American art.”

Other 2012 National Medal of the Arts recipients include philanthropist and arts education advocate Lin Arinson, landscape architect Laurie Olin, and George Lucas, who got a special shout-out from the President. “American philosopher Will Durant once wrote, ‘The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.’ And that’s an extraordinary skill—to tell the untold stories of history, to reveal the sculpture that’s waiting there in a block of stone, to transform written music into song; to make it look like those planes in space are actually flying like they are,” said Obama during his remarks. “I remember when I first saw Star Wars. There’s a whole generation that thinks special effects always look like they do today. But it used to be you’d see the string on the little model spaceships.”

Misha Nonoo, Tim Coppens Among New Crop of CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Finalists

The Council of Fashion Designers of America and Vogue have announced the new crop of finalists for the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund initiative. Now in its tenth year, the program provides financial support and business mentorship for emerging designers. Among the past winners are Joseph Altuzarra, Alexander Wang,and Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez of Proenza Schouler. The 2013 finalists are:
Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne, Public School
Jason Jones and Mike Feldman, Parabellum
Juan Carlos Obando, Juan Carlos Obando
Marc Alary, Marc Alary
Misha Nonoo, Nonoo
Ryan Lobo and Ramon Martin, TOME
Shimon Ovadia and Ariel Ovadia, Ovadia & Sons
Tim Coppens, Tim Coppens
Todd Snyder, Todd Snyder
Veronica Swanson Beard and Veronica Miele Beard, Veronica Beard

The finalists were selected by a committee of fashion power players that includes Vogue‘s Anna Wintour, whose tireless championing of the initiative has resulted in similar prizes across the globe, and CFDA President Diane von Furstenberg. Over the next few weeks, the group will meet with each of the finalists to review their current collections and conduct in-depth interviews (with $300,000 up for grabs, there’s no pressure) before embarking on site visits to their design studios (again, no pressure). A design project with Uniqlo is in the works, and a Fashion Fund Finalists’ fashion show is planned for October is Los Angeles. The winner(s) will be announced in New York City on November 11.