First Lady Michelle Obama Talks at the Cooper-Hewitt Design Awards Ceremony
1:15 P.M. EDT
MRS. OBAMA: Thank you all. (Applause.) Thanks so much. Good afternoon, everyone. (Applause.) Please rest. (Laughter.)
Welcome to the White House once again. It is a pleasure and an honor to be here with all of you once again today as we honor this year's National Design Award winners. Now, let me just say off the cuff -- and my staff doesn't like it when I talk off the cuff because they never know -- (laughter) -- the President is so jealous right now, because I always get to host this. (Laughter.) And every year, when I'm going over my briefing, he's like, "You're doing that again?" (Laughter.) He's like, "Well, who's there?" Because really, deep down, he would have been an architect had he been as talented and creative as all of you. (Laughter.) So from the President to you, he loves you all, he loves your work, he loves everything about every ounce of who you are, and so it is a delight to have you here. I always look forward to this event because it's a chance to celebrate some of our country's finest innovators and most creative minds.
As the website of one of our honorees -- NewDealDesign -- declares, "We bring the unknown to life, delightfully. Sparking life to dreams, crafting visions into reality, we move fast and act bravely to do good." And that's a constant theme that runs through the lives and careers of all of today's honorees. These men and women aren't simply designing beautiful buildings and parks and products, they're also thinking about how they can work to help create more sustainable environments, more vibrant cities, and a more active and participatory society.
Just listen to a sampling of the work that we honor today as an example: a series of 18-minute talks that found a way to penetrate through the fog of today's 140-character discourse; a giant, green, living sculpture in the middle of a Manhattan skyscraper; a museum that tells its stories not through a curator's lecture, but through the memories and oral histories of more than 100,000 people from around the world.
So these designers aren't just making a fleeting, momentary impact on our lives when we happen to glimpse their work. Instead, they're leaving a lasting impression on our hearts, in our minds, and in the way we see the world. They're inviting us to push our boundaries, to stretch our imaginations. And they're showing us that it's okay to have a little fun, too. And as Paula Scher put it, one of today's winners -- she said, "You have to misbehave to make breakthroughs." (Laughter.)
And let me clarify, to all of the young people here -- (laughter) -- our future designers and inventors -- what Paula is talking about is taking risks, not breaking laws. So let's be clear. (Laughter.) But for our young people, I wanted to bring all of our young people here today to meet all of you amazing individuals in part because I think it's important for all of our young people to see firsthand that in order to achieve your dreams, you've got to be willing to take some risks and to put yourself in a position where you might fail.
That's the story of anybody who's ever been successful. Take me, for example. When I was in high school, I dreamed of going to a college that a lot of folks thought was a bit beyond my ability. So they said I should set my sights lower. But I ignored them and I applied anyway. And guess what? I got in.