Telfar Clemens Wins National Design Award for Fashion Design From Cooper Hewitt

ON WITH THE SHOW: The Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum planned a virtual gala for Thursday night’s 21st National Design Awards.

Instead of welcoming hundreds to the Upper East Side museum for its annual awards gala, the Cooper Hewitt took a more remote approach for the event, which doubled as a kickoff for National Design Month. To promote an all-are-welcome theme, footage of the gala and ancillary educational programs are available online at no charge for anyone to discover the importance of design.

The Fashion Design award went to Telfar, but the company’s founder Telfar Clemens was not doing any interviews at this time, according to a Cooper Hewitt spokeswoman. An interview request sent to his company was not acknowledged.

In a self-description included in the Cooper Hewitt’s press material, Clemens wrote, “Become a queer, Black 18-year-old, travel back to 2004 and establish a 100 percent nongendered fashion line out of your family apartment in LeFrak City, Queens. Make clothes that do not exist on (folo) the market — just like you don’t exist in the world. Don’t have any money. Persist for a decade without a single review from the fashion press. Do everything differently. If stores won’t buy your clothes, show in museums. If ‘beauty’ sponsors don’t like your skin and hair — make the uniforms for a fast-food chain. Use the money to help bail out hundreds of kids off Rikers Island. Win the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, use the money to make an ‘It’ bag, where ‘It’ has nothing to do with domination. Refuse to be tokenized. Decline invitations. Use ‘fashion’ to envision a future — that can help destroy the present. Lots of love, keep your family close, breathe; ignore the bulls–t, and please remember: the world isn’t everything.”

Clemens recently won another award of great distinction — the 2020 Accessories Designer of the Year award at the CFDA Awards last month. The in-demand designer, who designed uniforms for 400-plus White Castle workers, unveiled a collaboration with Ugg a few weeks ago.

Studio 189 picked up the NDA’s Emerging Designer award. Founded by Rosario Dawson and Abrima Erwiah, the label is an artisan produced lifestyle brand and social enterprise. Made in Africa, Studio 189 produces African and African-inspired content and clothing.

The Cooper Hewitt gave the Communication Design award to Scott Dadich, the founder of Godfrey Dadich Partners and creator of the Netflix series “Abstract: The Art of Design.” The Digital Design award went to Design I/O. Kickstarter, the crowdsourced launcher of many design-minded products and concepts, was the recipient of the 2020 Design Visionary award. The NDA for Product Design was won by Catapult Design. The Oslo-based Snøhetta locked up the Architecture award while Sponge Park, located along the Gowanus Canal and designed by DLANDstudio, earned the Climate Action award and OJB Landscape Architecture was the Landscape Architecture winner.

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