Michelle Obama Honors Francisco Costa

First Lady Michelle Obama gives an award to the Calvin Klein designer Francisco Costa.

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Five seminars were held Friday morning at museums throughout the Washington area.

Ebs Burnough, White House deputy social secretary, told attendees at one panel that the White House and the First Lady wanted to make sure the design winners got out into the community. The goal, Burnough said, was to make the winners accessible, “so the community at large had the opportunity to really benefit from their knowledge and their expertise.”

Costa participated on one of the panels titled “Design X Details: Materials and Their Effects” at the Corcoran Gallery of Art with interior designers Tsao and McKown, who have designed everything from skyscrapers and furniture to housewares and private home interiors.

“We are mirrors to society, but we have the tools somehow to connect with that sensibility, that temperament…to transform it into something tangible,” Tsao said.

Costa said he sees design as an “intellectual resolution,” a place where beauty, society, practicality and service intersect.

Prior to the panel discussion the three winners presented examples of their work. As he narrated a video showing his sculptural spring 2009 collection, Costa said he thinks of himself at times as a frustrated architect. Producing his spring line was the most design-oriented undertaking he’s accomplished, Costa said.

Tsao and McKown said they were jealous of the work Costa is able to do in apparel. Architecture is shelter, Tsao said but, “before that you need to shelter the body,” he said, telling Costa, “You are an architect.”


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