Good design? Have your say

Who decides what's good design? For the next few weeks, you do.

New York's Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum is giving the public a chance to nominate and vote on items both humble and high concept at www.cooperhewitt.org in the second annual People's Design Award contest. Last year brought in 500 submissions and more than 5,000 votes.

After this year's balloting began, Apple's iPhone took an early lead, but there is a long list of contenders, including Fender's Telecaster guitar and the automobile seat belt.

The 2006 winner was Marianne Cusato's Katrina cottage, a tiny version of a Mississippi-style coastal cottage designed as affordable emergency housing in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and as an alternative to a FEMA trailer.

"This has been great for national awareness of design," says Caroline Payson, Cooper-Hewitt's director of education. "We want to get the American public to nominate things that matter to them."

The contest is part of the annual National Design Week, Oct. 14 to 20, when admission to the museum at 2 E. 91st St. is free. Voting ends Oct. 16, and the winner will be announced Oct. 18.

Payson says someone has nominated Clearview, a new typeface for road signs.

"People might not think of that as design, but everyone in the country will interact with these signs, and Clearview will make them easier to read."