The Smithsonian, the world’s largest conglomerate of museums, education, and research centers, proudly presents the American Ingenuity Awards, recognizing outstanding individuals across nine diverse categories.

Custom Awards
Event Awards

Inspired by this Custom Award?

Contact Us and we’ll use this as visual reference when discussing your future project.

Smithsonian Sketch Smaller 3

Overview + IDEA

Often referred to as the “Golden Globes of Intellect,” Smithsonian Magazine hosts an annual awards program that celebrates some of the most prominent movers and shakers around the world. Named the American Ingenuity Awards, this awards program sanctioned a design that was never done before.

Smithsonian commissioned Jeff Koons, a renowned artist who famously paved his reputation through various statues in major cities such as New York and Las Vegas. Together, we had a three-way partnership to craft something with elegance and flair that can honor some of the best minds the world has to offer.

The inspiration of this piece came from the idea of growth from nature itself. Cristaux was to create something that combined the concept of raw beauty with natural elements.

Smithsonian Grid Image 4
Smithsonian Grid Image 3
Smithsonian Grid Image 2



From recipients such as Jeff Bezos to Elon Musk, many individuals have won an American Ingenuity Award over the years.


The biggest challenge we encountered when venturing through the ideation phase of this award was the design itself. We were tasked with creating something that had nine pillars coming out of some sort of formation. With a concept as intricate as that, we’re unable to just craft a mold. Instead, this award would require some very unique and custom features.

We settled on creating a mold for the base that we could slot pillars into. After much testing, we ran into a roadblock. While we wanted this piece to be made from machined aluminum to give each piece a chrome type of finish, the final pieces would up weighing over 20 pounds.

While that may be fine as a desktop award, these awards were to be handed out at an event show, and would require slightly less weight so that recipients could comfortably hold them while on stage.

After some reengineering, we were able to hollow out the base a bit more to reduce the weight, but then we had to counter support the pillars in a way to prevent the pieces from falling over. Additionally, we needed to craft the piece in a way where the pillars were snug enough and did not detach when someone would pick them up by the pillar itself.

Smithsonian Grid Image 7
Smithsonian Grid Image 6
Smithsonian Grid Image 1
Smithsonian Sticky Image

The Creation

In the end, we fashioned the pillars in a way to ensure longevity and a quality unlike any other. Using the idea of pillars coming out of a rock formation, we made the piece feel free-flowing. We machined the base out of solid aluminum and then cast the rock formation to capture even the little details.

All of the pillars were then finely machined and highly polished before being securely connected to the underside of the machined base via rivets.

We engraved each recipient’s name onto the base, etching a lasting tribute to their remarkable achievements. The final touch was a bespoke inscription, celebrating their innovation and dedication, ensuring that each award would stand as a testament to their legacy for generations to come.
In honor of these individuals doing incredible things around the world, Cristaux crafted an award beyond any basic manufacturing methods. As pioneers in their industries, these recipients deserve nothing less.
Play Video | Smithsonian Ingenuity Awards


Your recognition programs are your story. We want to make it memorable. Let’s create together.

Tell us your story