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First Lady Michelle Obama Honors Design Innovators at the White House

The First Lady praised the winners of the Cooper Hewitt Design Awards for "pushing boundaries, creating and revealing beauty where we least expect it, and helping us all lead healthier, more sustainable lives"

First Lady Michelle Obama paid tribute to designers from the fields of fashion, architecture, technology, and landscapes on Friday during a luncheon in the East Room of the White House.

The event was part of the Smithsonian's annual Cooper-Hewitt National Design Awards, and the winners, which included a diverse range of creative visionaries from the founder of the TED Conference to fashion designer Thom Browne to a company that partners with social entrepreneurs to address needs in developing countries, also participated in an education program for local high school students.

In her remarks, the First Lady praised the winners for "pushing boundaries, creating and revealing beauty where we least expect it, and helping us all lead healthier, more sustainable lives:"

And that is the defining characteristic of today’s honorees. All of them have done something really good for our country and our world. From the clothes we wear to the technologies we use to the public spaces we enjoy, their work affects just about every aspect of our lives. And on days like today, when we gather to celebrate these extraordinary individuals, it’s easy to go on and on about everything they’ve achieved and the impact that they’ve had. It is a very easy thing to do with this group.

But it’s also important to remember that today’s awards ceremony is only part of the story. We know that for these men and women, the journey to this day began long before they ever walked through the doors of the White House. It started in studios and classrooms and dorm rooms, where they spent long hours and late nights hunched over a sketchpad or squinting at a computer screen, drafting and redrafting and re-redrafting. (Laughter.)

And this is a point I especially want to emphasize for all of the young people who have joined us today. What you guys have to understand is that these honorees weren’t born brilliant designers. They became brilliant designers because they worked hard. They’re here today because they had a dream, and they put in long, hard, exhausting work -- all of that that it takes to follow that dream.

Watch the First Lady honor National Design Award winners here.

The 2012 National Design Awards recipients are:

Lifetime Achievement: Richard Saul Wurman

Design Mind: Janine Benyus

Design Patron: Red Burns

Corporate and Institutional Achievement: Design that Matters

Architecture Design: Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects

Communication Design: Rebeca Méndez

Fashion Design: Thom Browne

Interaction Design: Evan Roth

Interior Design: Clive Wilkinson Architects

Landscape Architecture: Stoss Landscape Urbanism

Product Design: Scott Wilson