Derek Lam wins Cooper Hewitt National Design Award for Fashion Design – WWD

Before guests made their way through the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum to Thursday night’s sit-down dinner in the garden, Derek Lam spoke about being the winner of this year’s National Design Award for design. fashion.

He said, “Personally, it validates being a designer working in America and being recognized by the Smithsonian. It’s incredible. This is probably one of the greatest honors a designer can get.

Nike’s Tinker Hatfield, Tobias Frere-Jones, architect Thomas Phifer, Google’s Ivan Poupyrev and Susan Kare were among the other NDA winners recognized at the 20th annual Cooper Hewitt gala. By winning the Fashion Design Award, the New York-based designer joins the ranks of previous winners such as Thom Browne, Geoffrey Beene, Isabel Toledo, Maria Cornejo and Mary Ping of Slow and Steady.

Lam said: “Just knowing who had won in the past was really touching, especially with the passing of Isabel Toledo this year. She was one of the winners. The first time I really heard of this award was because she won [in 2005.] It really touched me. “

The award has a history of celebrating people who truly pursue design and pursue their careers for purity on this side compared to celebrities. Lam said, “That’s why I feel like an impostor here. I wanted to be a landscape architect before becoming a designer. I wanted to be a general architect. So I am part of a group of people of which I am the biggest fan. They offer such an intellectual and superior plan – and I’m just trying to sell clothes. But I have always been very proud [not only] be a designer, but an American designer. I want the work to speak for itself and for the reputation.

Recalling how amazed he was to be on a Cooper Hewitt panel with Poupyrev earlier in the week, Lam said. “Just so I can hang out with these people, I hope to get some fairy dust out of it.”

After shutting down his collection business, Lam said he was trying to consolidate his business with Derek Lam 10 Crosby. “So it’s still a constant concern, but a lot of things are already in place. We have had amazing seasons, thank goodness. Tonight, in a way, legitimizes our decision to stay at the center. Seeing everything that is going on in fashion, it’s so nice to feel centered. I felt very off center. I was like, ‘What am I doing?’ “How can I fit into the scheme of things? I was pulled in a lot of directions. This was largely the usual amount of time you have to devote to all the different aspects of the business. Now I just feel more in control and in that regard more creative.

Taking a few solid weeks away from town also “helped lift some type of depression, but not anxiety,” Lam said. A little time at the beach with his partner Jan Schlottmann and their dog did the trick. Lisa Iwamoto, who won the NDA for Interior Design at IwamotoScott Architecture, then stopped by to talk with Lam about their California roots.

As for the intersection of fashion and interior design, she said, “It’s not that fashion affects our work so much. It is more of a side business where there is mutual understanding for solving design problems using ordinary materials in more innovative ways. For me, that’s his job, ”said Iwamoto, pointing to Lam. “I just like very simple, everyday things and use them in innovative ways. It’s not that you need a magic dress. You just take something and that fold, that fold, or that fold and that’s what transforms it. It’s transformative and it’s inspiring, ”said Iwamoto.


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Joseph E. Golightly