This year, the National Design Awards given by the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, honored USC Architecture professor Lawrence Scarpa for Architecture Design and alum Gerard Furbershaw for Product Design.
There are only seven Cooper-Hewitt design awards given—architecture, fashion design, office design, interaction design, landscape architecture, product design and interior design—which makes the award especially significant, noted USC Architecture Vice Dean Marc Schiler.
Cooper-Hewitt is the only museum in the nation devoted exclusively to historic and contemporary design. Its awards, launched in 2000 as a project of the White House Millennium Council, were established to promote design as a vital tool in shaping the world. They honor lasting achievement in American design, and recognize “excellence, innovation and enhancement of the quality of life.”
Elevating the art of architecture
Scarpa, an adjunct professor who teaches graduate and undergraduate design studio courses, was honored along with Angela Brooks, his partner at Brooks + Scarpa Architects. Their Los Angeles-based firm was praised for its sustainable, socially progressive architecture and “ingenious applications of building materials.” The awards citation also mentioned some of the firm’s Los Angeles projects including the Solar Umbrella House; the Cherokee Mixed-Use Lofts; Colorado Court, the nation’s first multi-family housing project to be LEED-Gold certified; and Step Up on 5th, which provides housing and support services for the homeless and special needs population.
In his classes as well as in his professional work, Scarpa said he “looks to foster a culture of ingenuity and exploration that has the potential to pioneer new ways to imagine architectural practice, using common materials in innovative ways that can transcend ordinary objects into extraordinary experiences.” He said the work of Brooks + Scarpa also focuses on sustainable and socially progressive design, and incorporating unique ideas about tactility and spatial experiences.
A leader in “beautiful, ingenious” product design
The recipient of this year’s National Design Award for Product Design is no stranger to design accolades. Gerard Furbershaw ‘74, who has been awarded the USC Architectural Guild’s Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2012, is the co-founder and chief operating officer of LUNAR, a global design and engineering firm based in San Francisco. The company “has been creating beautiful, ingenious and charismatic products and experiences for 30 years,” the citation stated, noting its work with Apple, Oral-B and Johnson & Johnson. The citation continued: “Staying close to its entrepreneurial core, LUNAR has created a variety of new ventures, including Belle-V, an innovative new brand of kitchen tools introduced on Kickstarter, achieving its funding goal on the first day.”
After receiving his award, Furbershaw said: “Over its 30-year history, LUNAR has been involved in many prominent projects and we’re extremely proud of that work. However, I believe the creation of a firm culture based upon design excellence is our greatest achievement and that is why it is such a deep honor for LUNAR to have received the Cooper-Hewitt’s 2014 National Design Award for Product Design.”