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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
July 14, 2008
Mrs. Bush's Remarks at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Awards
10:39 A.M. EDT
MRS. BUSH: Thank you very much. Good morning, everyone. Good morning and welcome to the White House. Congratulations to the finalists and the recipients of the 2008 National Design Awards. This has always been a really fun event for me. I'm very interested in all the things you all do -- in architecture, in landscape architecture, in fashion, in product design, and all of the ways that you all make American life easier and more interesting.
So I look forward to this event every year to get to meet people whose works I've admired for a long time, and this is certainly no exception. This is the last one, so I hope whoever comes after me will invite you all next year to this event. (Laughter.)
American design has helped tell our nation's story and shape our common identity. William Lamb's Empire State Building, Raymond Loewy's Coldspot refrigerator, Bill Blass's casually chic attire -- these creations form the American backdrop and also many of our most cherished memories.
Some of our first -- some of our country's first designers were actually our Founding Fathers. In July 1776, the Continental Congress asked Ben Franklin, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson to create a new national seal. These revered leaders went right to work and they submitted their design the very next month. It was rejected outright. (Laughter.) It took two more committees and the combined efforts of 14 people before the Great Seal of the United States was adopted nearly six years later.
Fortunately for President Bush, American statesmen are no longer expected to be great designers. (Laughter.) When he was asked about his rug in the Oval Office, the President likes to say that he did the smart thing for any leader to do -- he delegated the design to me. (Laughter.) And then I did the smart thing and delegated the task to a professional designer.
Walter Dorwin Teague observed in 1940 that designers "are not building big or little gadgets," they're "building an environment." Advances in technology and communication have made his statement truer today than ever before. Our offices are decorated by interior designers. Our clothes reflect the latest colors and fashions. Even the colors of our books attract us with bold graphic art.
At this event, we recognize men and women whose innovation has inspired us with new possibilities. You've built houses from shipping containers. You've lit Bloomingdale's with spouting neon flowers. You've turned everyday tasks like potato peeling or commuting into distinctive experiences.
Your work affects thousands who drive through New York City's Columbus Circle or honor our heroes at Arlington's National Cemetery. And for those working at computers or folding laundry at home, you've given us the classic View-Master so that a vacation is never farther than a click away.
At the nearby Smithsonian American Art Museum, the work of Landscape Design finalist Gustafson Guthrie Nichol is now on display for visitors to enjoy year-round.
The trees, shrubs, and water features they created for the new Kogod Courtyard make a seamless transition between the museum's Greek Revival architecture and the courtyard's modern Norman Foster glass canopy.
And in workplaces across America, including the White House, productivity often depends on the design of this year's Corporate Achievement Award winner: Google.
From Internet search engines to the world of high fashion, each of you is here because you represent the very best of your discipline in the field of design. Your creativity and vision has revolutionized the way Americans live. And it's improving the lives of men, women and children worldwide. Thank you all very much for your great work. (Applause.)
Now, to say more about each of our National Design Award winners and finalists, the director of the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum: Paul Warwick Thompson. (Applause.)