AIGA and the Winterhouse Institute announced the two writers selected to receive the fifth annual Winterhouse Awards for Design Writing & Criticism: Daniel Brook is the recipient of the professional Writing Award, based on a body of work; and Aileen Kwun is the recipient of the Education Award, for the single best piece of writing by a student. A program of AIGA, these annual awards were founded by William Drenttel and Jessica Helfand of Winterhouse Institute to recognize excellence in writing about design and to encourage the development of voices under 40 engaged in critical thinking about design and visual culture in the United States.
The Writing Award - open to writers, critics, scholars, historians, journalists and designers, in the amount of $10,000 - is awarded to Daniel Brook for his three submissions: "The Architect of 9/11," "Welcome to the O.C." and "Old School."
Daniel Brook is the author of The Trap: Selling Out to Stay Afloat in Winner Take All America (Times Books/Henry Holt, 2007) and has written about architecture for Harper's, Slate.com and Metropolis, among other publications. Brook was born in Brooklyn, raised on Long Island, and educated at Yale. He is currently a writer-in-residence at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., where he is at work on a book on the architecture of Westernization, to be published by W. W. Norton in 2012.
The Education Award - open to undergraduate or graduate students whose use of writing, in the interest of making visual work or scholarship or cultural observation, demonstrates extraordinary originality and promise, in the amount of $1,000 - is awarded to Aileen Kwun for her submission, "Lady Gaga Is a Machine for Dancing."
Aileen Kwun earned her BA in English at the University of California, Berkeley, where her study of literature instilled a love of language and a drive to unearth the subtext of our constructed surroundings. Following her relocation to New York, she earned a Certificate in Publishing from Columbia University's School of Journalism and worked for two years as a publicist for Princeton Architectural Press. She is currently an MFA candidate in Design Criticism at the School of Visual Arts, and is quick to point out that she is actually not a fan of Lady Gaga's music.
The 2010 awards were judged by a distinguished panel of authors and critics, each renowned for their own observations on design and visual culture: Paola Antonelli, senior curator in the department of architecture and design of the Museum of Modern Art; Steven Heller, co-chair of the School of Visual Arts' MFA Designer as Author and co-founder of its MFA Design Criticism and MFA Interaction Design programs (who recused himself from voting on Ms. Kwun's entry); and Rob Walker, author of Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are and columnist for The New York Times Magazine. Jessica Helfand, a partner at Winterhouse and one of the founding editors of Design Observer, chaired the jury.
"The judges were impressed by the range of submissions this year, and by the degree to which writers from other disciplines have begun to write about design from diverse perspectives," remarked Helfand. "This speaks well about the relevance of our profession, and serves unquestionably to both widen and deepen the discussion."