Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum celebrates significant achievements in the design world with its annual National Design Awards, now in its seventh year. On June 5. PAOLO SOLERI was announced this years winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award. Paolo is invited to the White House today for the recognition of this award, prior to the formal award ceremony at the National Design Museum in New York in October 2006. His visit today will include a lunch with Laura Bush for all of the National Design Award winners.

? Paolo prepared a short paper that he hopes to present at this occasion:

I am grateful to Cooper-Hewitt for the award and honored by the White House generosity.


An American born in Italy my allegiances make me an Earthling living for the last 60 years in the North American continent.

The more my work has given body to my conscience, the more the American “miracle” and it is a vast “miracle”, has caused me to become critical. To put it succinctly, the insularity of the American nation, which cause-effect is xenophobia, has generated the Empire USA. It owes its existence and its triumph to Homo faber opportunism – industriousness and determination, but in the process, we westerners have been trapped in the cage of materialism, our invention. The invention is irresistible. It delivers us comfort, self-righteousness and pride.

The technocratic empire will be short-lived because its myopic and immense power is echoed by its own theocratic imprint. The triad – empire, technocracy, theocracy – has a common outcome, materialism, its eventual nemesis.

Criticism that doesn’t propose alternatives is sterile if not cynical. The alternative I have been offering is the Lean Alternative. It speaks not of reformation. It speaks of reformulation of our faiths, priorities and our environment. Reformism, history tells us, is no go in disguise. The Goliath of materialism is not successfully confronted by timidity and reforms. It needs to be denounced and the alternative cannot be a reformation of the existent, but needs to be a reformulation of life’s drives no longer captive to the rules of survival of the fittest. (Jungle Law)

Life is too magnificent, anguished and noble to be prey of a theocratic, technocratic empire idolatry. The immense reservoir of good will and excellence stored in the American people cannot, must not be wasted in a run into well-padded triviality.

Paolo Soleri

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