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Michelle Obama National Design Awards lunch: Chicago designer Rick Valicenti honored. Menu, table photos

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WH design lunch1.jpegLunch in the White House East Room for 2011 Cooper-Hewitt National Design Awards winners and finalists. (Photo by Lynn Sweet)

michelle obama place setting.jpegMichelle Obama's place setting. (photo by Lynn Sweet)

Rick Valicenti.jpgDesign Award Winner Rick Valicenti (Photo by Lynn Sweet)

wh garden lettuce seeds.jpegSeeds from the White House garden were given as gifts. (photo by Lynn Sweet)

WASHINGTON--First Lady Michelle Obama hosted a lunch for the National Design Award winners--the highest honor in the business--Tuesday in the East Room. The award lunch was done with The Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum. Among the National Design Award winners at the lunch: Chicago's Rick Valicenti, founder of Thirst, 1440 W. Hubbard.

NATIONAL DESIGN AWARDS LUNCH MENU. Number of guests: about 160.


South Lawn Garden Greens
Jeeves Passion Fruit Gelee


Compressed Watermelon
Feta Cheese and Roasted Figs
Pistachio Vinaigrette

Crab-filled Saffron Ravioli
Roasted Sun Gold Tomatoes
Yellow Corn and Lemon Verbena


Peach Marjolaine with Blackberries
Grapefruit Sorbet


Illumination Sauvignon Blanc "Napa" 2010 Napa Valley, Calif.

Click below for transcript of Mrs. Obama's remarks

The White House

Office of the First Lady
For Immediate Release
September 13, 2011
Remarks by the First Lady at Cooper-Hewitt Design Awards Luncheon

East Room

1:07 P.M. EDT

MRS. OBAMA: Well, good afternoon, everyone, and welcome to the White House. Never get tired of saying that -- right? (Laughter.) I am pleased to be here with all of you as we recognize this year's recipients of the National Design Awards.

As the great American designer Milton Glaser has said, "Good design is good citizenship." And today we will celebrate both: designers who have reached the tops of their fields not just by chasing glory for themselves, but instead by making life glorious for the rest of us.

These men and women have breathed new life into our homes and our workplaces, the clothes we wear, the products we use every day, and even the most basic ways we process information. A trip to the park is just a bit more refreshing. A book or a chart more readable. A commute to work more palatable -- unless you were stuck on the train today. (Laughter.) There are a few who didn't make it.

But while we ooh and ahh at their handiwork, we may take for granted all the blood, sweat, and tears that went into the process of creation. We will never see all of those late nights spent tinkering and perfecting. We'll never experience the long hours hunched over a drafting board or staring blankly at a computer screen. So, honorees, today is about honoring not just your designs, but also the years of hard work that brought you here today.

And that's something that I want to emphasize for all of the young people who are here with us today. I want you young folks, and as you look around the room, understand that you see some of the sharpest minds alive, some of the most accomplished designers in the world. But understand that none of these people came here ready-made -- all right? They're here today because they hatched an idea or they followed a dream -- and more importantly, they worked every day, they worked hard every day, to get here.

So to the young people here, I want you to realize that you can share a meal with some of our nation's greatest talent, you can walk on the same floors as Presidents and as heads of state. And if you work hard enough, if you believe in yourself, you can earn an award just like this in a few decades or -- (laughter) -- I don't know, a few of you, maybe a few years. (Laughter.) Never know; time marches on. They may be pushing you out sooner than you think. (Laughter.) I know a few of them already told me about their plans.

And I want you all to know that I really do mean this. This is what I fundamentally believe about all of you young people. You can be right here. That's why it is important for us to have you here, right now, so that you know that this place belongs to you, too.

One of my highest priorities as First Lady is to make sure that the doors of this house, the White House, are open not only to the best and brightest of today, but to our next generation, as well. And I know that many of our guests here today share that mission of investing in our young people.

And that's why Cooper-Hewitt and the Smithsonian hosted a wonderful Teen Design Fair earlier today, opening doors for 400 D.C. public high school students to learn about career paths, and to show off their work and get some advice from some of today's honorees and finalists.

And I want to thank you all -- all of the honorees, the finalists, everyone who took the time to spend with these young people -- I want you all to know that they're doing this because they believe in you, too. There are a lot of people out there who think you guys can do whatever you want to, and they're willing to take the time -- on one of the days that we're here to honor them -- to give something back to you all.

So part of your challenge is that when you get here, you have to do the same thing for somebody else. All right? That's my only deal. (Laughter.)

It's why many of our honorees and finalists not only have given back today but they're doing it every day in the communities where they come from. And it's why the man that I am about to introduce is working so hard with his team at the Smithsonian to make sure that all Americans, especially our young people, have access to all the museums and artifacts and scientific specimens and archives -- whether that's in person or whether it's by smartphone -- that's how you guys do things, right, on phones nowadays. (Laughter.) You're keeping up with that. We're going to be able to work with you.

So the Smithsonian is revitalizing their Office of Education. They're starting educational programs at schools for math and science, and for history and the arts. They're on Facebook. The Smithsonian is twittering. Whoa. (Laughter.) They're even on YouTube. They are trying to find you all. They're doing a great job. And they're doing it because, as the man I'm about to introduce has said -- and this is his quote -- "Instead of a set of collections that hardly anybody sees, and a group of curators who are behind the walls, we can become a huge educational resource for the nation that we haven't been before."

And it is that type of vision that helps a day like today become reality. And that's the same type of leadership that helps a marvelous institution like the Smithsonian adapt to the new millennium. And that is why I am so pleased to introduce the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution -- and a dear friend who has been doing wonderful things with this White House -- Dr. Wayne Clough. (Applause.)

1:14 P.M. EDT

below, from Cooper Hewitt....

Michelle Obama Celebrates the National Design Awards with
White House Ceremony and Luncheon
Teen Design Fair to Be Held for Local Students
The Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum today announced First Lady
Michelle Obama will celebrate the 2011 National Design Awards Tuesday, Sept. 13, with a White
House ceremony for the winners and finalists of the awards. In support of the First Lady's emphasis
on education and outreach to the Washington, D.C. community, the award winners will participate in
an education program for local high school students before the luncheon. First Lady Michelle Obama
serves as the honorary patron for this year's National Design Awards.
The annual National Design Awards celebrate design in various disciplines as a vital
humanistic tool in shaping the world. The awards are accompanied each year by a variety of public
education programs, including special events, panel discussions and workshops.
―The First Lady is an influential champion of design and arts education, and we are honored to
once again have her support as honorary patron of the National Design Awards,‖ said Museum
Director Bill Moggridge.
Several of the National Design Award winners and finalists will take part in a Teen Design
Fair in Washington Sept. 13, which serves to introduce high school students to careers in design. The
students will meet one-on-one with leading designers in the fields of fashion, industrial design,
architecture, multimedia and graphic design, including Matthew Carter, Jamie Drake, Tobias Frere-
Jones, Kathryn Gustafson, Steven Heller and Jonathan Hoefler. A keynote address will be given by
Tim Gunn, chief creative officer at Liz Claiborne Inc. and co-host of Lifetime's Project Runway. The
Teen Design Fair will be held from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. in the Robert and Arlene Kogod Courtyard at
the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery (Eighth and
Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum
Sept. 6, 2011
SI-375-2011 2
F Streets, N.W., Washington, D.C.). Students can learn more about attending the program and register
online at
The awards recognize extraordinary contributions to design in 10 categories: Lifetime
Achievement, Design Mind, Corporate and Institutional Achievement, Architecture Design,
Communication Design, Fashion Design, Interaction Design, Interior Design, Landscape Architecture
and Product Design. The award recipients also will be honored at a gala dinner Oct. 20 at Pier Sixty in
New York.

The 2011 National Design Awards recipients are:
Lifetime Achievement: Matthew Carter
Design Mind: Steven Heller
Corporate and Institutional Achievement: Knoll
Finalists: Design that Matters and OXO
Architecture Design: Architecture Research Office
Finalists: Dan Rockhill and Weiss/Manfredi

Communication Design: Rick Valicenti
Finalists: Hoefler & Frere-Jones and Project Projects

Fashion Design: J. Mendel
Finalists: Prabal Gurung and Jason Wu
Interaction Design: Ben Fry
Finalists: Chris Milk and Local Projects
Interior Design: Shelton, Mindel & Associates
Finalists: Aidlin Darling Design and Clive Wilkinson Architects
Landscape Architecture: Gustafson Guthrie Nichol
Finalists: Tom Leader and Margie Ruddick
Product Design: Continuum
Finalists: Heath Ceramics and RKS
The 2011 jury was composed of a diverse group of designers and educators from around the
nation, including Andrew Blauvelt, Walker Art Center; June Cohen, TED Media; Jamie Drake, Drake
Design Associates; Terry Guen, Terry Guen Design Associates Inc.; David Kusuma, Tupperware
Brands Corp.; Jennifer Morla, Morla Design; Lela Rose, Lela Rose; Billie Tsien, Tod Williams Billie
Tsien Architects; and Patrick Whitney, Institute of Design, Illinois Institute of Technology.
SI-375-2011 3
National Design Awards are made possible in part by Bloomberg.
Media sponsorship is provided by Fast Company.
National Design Week is made possible in part by the generous sponsorship of Target.
Transportation provided by Range Rover.
National Design Week
National Design Week, Oct. 15-23, aims to promote a better understanding of the role that
design plays in all aspects of daily life. In addition to hosting a Teen Design Fair and Winners' Panel,
the program will reach school teachers and their students nationally, in the classroom and online
through Cooper-Hewitt's Educator Resource Center ( The site
features more than 400 lesson plans aligned to national and state standards that demonstrate how the
design process can enhance the teaching of all subjects and features discussion boards that provide a
forum for educators to exchange ideas. The museum's website also features the year-round ―Design
Across America‖ clickable map listing design-oriented events throughout the country.
About Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum
The Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum is the only museum in the nation
devoted exclusively to historic and contemporary design. The museum presents compelling
perspectives on the impact of design on daily life through active educational programs, exhibitions and
publications. Founded in 1897 by Amy, Eleanor and Sarah Hewitt--granddaughters of industrialist
Peter Cooper--as part of the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, the museum has
been a branch of the Smithsonian since 1967.
Cooper-Hewitt's main facility, housed in the Carnegie Mansion, will undergo renovation,
beginning in fall 2011, as part of a $64 million capital campaign that includes enlarged and enhanced
facilities for exhibitions, collections display, education programming and the National Design Library,
and an increased endowment. During the renovation, Cooper-Hewitt's usual schedule of exhibitions,
education programs and events will be staged at various off-site locations, including ―Design with the
Other 90%: Cities,‖ on view at the United Nations Oct. 15 through Jan. 9, 2012.
# # #

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on September 14, 2011 4:42 PM.

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