The following story is by WHSAD Sophomore, Deselle Thompson.
Tuesday, October 15: The Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian-Design Career Fair is a Design award show and place of learning for the future creative minds of the world at the Smithsonian Museum. There are national awards presented to high school students across the country who demonstrate true passion and creativity in design. In my attendance, along with other students, the fair was found to be a splendid educational experience, as kids from across the city gathered to learn from speakers and professionals in the name of creative career education.
Before I get ahead of myself however, it would be doing the entire experience a great injustice if I didn’t primarily discuss the events we took part in, prior to the main event. We arrived a little earlier than the scheduled time, so we took the opportunity to tour the Smithsonian museum in all its glory. The attached image is just a small portion of the grandiose exhibitions within the facility, and my personal favorite for the sincere emulation of nature in its most miniscule of forms, winged insects (Not to mention the elegant walk-through portion which invoked sudden feelings of belonging and wondrous awe). Furthermore, there was the cutest little contraption with little metal working human figures at its core, with decorated floors and walls of plants/moss on the inside. This interactive design where viewers open little slots of tiny peep holes to see the, “working people” if you will, was so innocently enjoyable. I absolutely loved it.
But sadly, our purpose of the trip was not to look through mini peep holes, gape upon plant art decorated structures, or browse the gift shop (although these were all noteworthy parts). We had a fair to attend. Walking into the the large white tent that was the Design Career Fair did not at all feel like a large white tent. It was dimly lit with spotlights beaming to different corners of the spacious venue sourcing from overhead, almost like a theater auditorium except this was a tent. There were large white background screens with the words “COOPER HEWITT NATIONAL DESIGN AWARDS 20 YRS” arranged in a bold eye catching fashion. Speakers took to the stage to accept awards, give speeches, and, most importantly, speak to us, the younger generation of future designers. For example, the recipients of the Design award who were high school seniors from Florida studying architecture as well as a tech savvy black woman from Washington who encouraged girls to branch out into STEM fields. They spoke words of encouragement and gave advice such as making sure to write or sketch any creative thought or idea that pops into your head down on paper. They especially stressed this. I feel a certain obligation however to mention one speaker, named Tia, who really inspired me. She was a Nigerian born English fashion designer accepted into The New School here in New York. She’s working on her new fashion line and doing big and great things out there. She said something that I think will always stick with me: “Be original and authentic in whatever you do, you don’t need pinterest or any other source of creative pieces to make your work, be original. People notice when your being authentic and tend to like it more.”
We also were given the opportunity to actually speak with and learn from design professionals such as a landscape architect, interior designer, service designer, graphic designers and proprietor designers. They showed pieces of their work and went into depth on the knowledge on what they do and how they got started. For example, we’d start at one table, let’s say a landscape architect was set up at, then move to the next table at which a service designer was stationed. I was truly grateful for this because speaking to these professionals about their careers allowed me to come to realizations about what exactly I want to don’t want to do in the future and what I do want to do.
The entire event was a legitimate affair I’m glad to have been a part of.