The Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum presented its second People's Design Award to TOMS Shoes on Thursday, Oct. 18th, at its eighth annual National Design Awards gala in New York. Fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi announced the winning design and presented the award to TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie. National Design Week and the National Design Awards are sponsored by Target.
After thousands of votes were cast during the course of one month on Cooper-Hewitt's website, TOMS Shoes―a company which matches every pair of shoes purchased with a donation of a pair to a child in need―emerged as the public's favorite design. It was a close race until the midnight hour (the online voting was extended until 11:59 p.m. on Oct. 16, due to high visitor traffic) between TOMS and the Floating Pool, a 20,000 square-foot floating pool complex built within a steel deck barge, commissioned by Ann Buttenwieser of the Neptune Foundation and designed by architect Jonathan Kirschenfeld. The Floating Pool was docked last summer at the Brooklyn Bridge Park Beach in Brooklyn, New York.
TOMS, slip-on shoes available in vibrant colors and prints, are inspired by the traditional, rope-soled Argentine "alpargata." Blake Mycoskie founded TOMS in 2006 following a trip to Argentina, where he was struck by the poverty and health issues of the country. During the first year of business alone, TOMS sold 10,000 pairs of shoes and Mycoskie returned to Argentina to lead the company's first shoe drop. In November, Mycoskie will travel to Africa, where he will be delivering more than 50,000 pairs of TOMS.
"I'm delighted that for the second year in a row, the public has chosen a socially conscious design that not only looks great, but helps the lives of less fortunate people around the world," said Cooper-Hewitt director Paul Warwick Thompson.
Marianne Cusato, designer of the Katrina Cottage, was selected as the first People's Design Award winner.
Mycoskie, an entrepreneur, founded TOMS Shoes following a string of successful ventures, including a collegiate laundry service, a 24/7 reality TV network and a stint on "The Amazing Race: Season Two." Mycoskie has spent the past year traveling across the U.S. in an Airstream trailer, thanking TOMS customers and supporters and spreading awareness about the cause.