Quoting the graphic designer Milton Glaser that “good design is good citizenship,” Michelle Obama, alongside Tim Gunn, honored the nation’s top designers during a luncheon at the White House yesterday. The National Design Awards, presented by the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, address fields ranging from product design to landscape architecture. A full-fledged awards gala will be held on October 20.
The label J. Mendel, run by five consecutive generations of Mendels, took home top honors for exceptional work in fashion. The brand, which has its roots in luxury fur design, was expanded in 2002 by Gilles Mendel to offer complete ready-to-wear collections. Finalists for the fashion design award included Prabal Gurung and Jason Wu (who famously designed the First Lady’s inauguration dress).
Tim Gunn hosted a teen design fair earlier in the day at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C., with the intention of introducing about 200 high school students to design-oriented careers. NDA winners and finalists were on hand to share their work with the students — a perfect way to prime the next generation of exceptional designers.