The National Design Awards were conceived by the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum to honor lasting achievement in American design. The Awards are bestowed in recognition of excellence, innovation, and enhancement of the quality of life. First launched at the White House in 2000 as an official project of the White House Millennium Council, the annual Awards program celebrates design as a vital humanistic tool in shaping the world, and seeks to increase national awareness of the impact of design through education initiatives.
The National Design Awards is one of the few programs of its kind structured to continue to benefit the nation long after the Awards ceremony and gala. A suite of educational programs is offered in conjunction with the Awards during National Design Week, an initiative launched in 2006 that aims to draw national attention to the ways in which design enriches everyday life. During National Design Week, the Museum offers free admission, hosts a series of public programs based on the vision and work of the honorees, and helps promote design events held across the country.