From October 15th through the 19th, the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum celebrated National Design Week highlighting the important role that design plays in all aspects of daily life. Design Week activities featured a series of events, talks, and workshops broadening access to the vision and work of the country’s design leaders and inspiring people of all ages to engage with design and design thinking.
National Design Week was punctuated by the National Design Awards Gala benefit and awards ceremony, which took place on October 17th. MIT D-Lab was the recipient of the 2019 National Design Award in the Corporate and Institutional Achievement category.
Following is a brief run-down of D-Lab's engagement in Design Week events and at the National Design Awards Gala:
Design Career Fair
Amy Smith and Martha Thompson represented D-Lab at a National Design Week career fair aimed primarily at college-age students.
Amy gave a terrific talk in an interview format with Carolyn Royston, Chief Experience Officer at the Cooper Hewitt who engaged Amy with pre-set questions. Some of the questions Carolyn posed included:
- MIT D-Lab got its start as “The Haiti Class”- a single, project-based class that was hands-on and rooted in the real world. How has that class transformed into what the D-Lab has become?
- MIT D-Lab isn’t just about the product of design, it’s about process of design. How are you and your students working with people living in poverty to create a sustainable life cycle of design?
- What is an example of one of the problems that D-Lab is currently working to solve?
- You have now been running iterations of the MIT-D Lab for 17 years. What are some of the long-term transformations that you’ve seen in the communities that you’ve partnered with?
A video will be available of this talk next month.
Amy, Martha, D-Lab alumna Caroline Morris, and D-Lab Communications Officer Nancy Adams led a group of 24 through a speed-version of making hot-wire foam cutters. In just 20 minutes we *almost* succeeded :) - they all got to take the cut, sawed, and drilled pieces to do the final assembly at home!
National Design Awards Gala
The National Design Awards recognize designers who excel in their fields, innovate new ideas and applications for design, and enhance the quality of life through design. On the Gala evening, Cooper Hewitt invited design supporters to celebrate the achievements of the distinguished National Design Award recipients.
Attending the Gala in support of D-Lab were D-Lab Communications Officer Nancy Adams; D-Lab Academic Program Manager Libby Hsu; Kristin Kagetsu '12, co-founder Saathi Pads; D-Lab Associate Director for Research Kendra Leith; D-Lab Founding Director Amy Smith; Raj Tahil '81; Debbie Lin Teodorescu, founder SurgiBox; Senior Associate Dean and Director, Office of Experiential Learning Kate Trimble; D-Lab Faculty Director for Academics Maria Yang; and Emily Young '18, co-founder, Okoa Project,
Kristin Kagetsu of Saathi was the presenter of D-Lab's award. Prior to her touching introduction, a short video featuring D-Lab projects was played on large screens around the room. Amy Smith accepted the award on D-Lab's behalf and gave an acceptance speech thanking the jury and museum in several languages. An anonymous donor purchased 550 small bottles of True Moringa oil so that they could be included in the Gala gift bags and be acknowledged in the program.
D-Lab Program Associate Melissa Mangina joined Nancy to help on Saturday at the Design Fest, where the D-Lab staff and staff from the Cooper Hewitt education team led dozens of children and other visitors through the process of building and decorating battery-powered LEDs with resistors.