Mary Ping

For Mary Ping, work remains the greatest reward, despite winning this year’s National Design Award for fashion from the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum and running her own business for 15 years.

While guests at Thursday night’s gala at the Upper East Side museum milled around near the bar, the New York designer talked about her ideology for Slow and Steady Wins the Race. “Totally humbled and totally honored,” Ping said, “Maybe this is a nice turning point for what we do which is trying to make everything that’s timeless. That’s pretty opposite of the fashion system today. It’s been that way from the start. I don’t know if it’s being stubborn or tenacious. Ask him, [jokingly gesturing toward her boyfriend]. I stick to my guns.”

WWD: What’s the most difficult part of being on your own?
Mary Ping: Trying to prove independence, or trying to prove a certain logic and a beauty of a logic in our system.

WWD: What do you want to do next?
M.P.: I just want to keep doing what I’m doing honestly. I just want to do new collections. I’m eager about travel and the problem solving surrounding sustainability. I don’t have any trips planned but there are definitely places I want to go to. I don’t really use trips as my point of inspiration. I like being in the studio a lot.

WWD: Are people approaching you about collaborations?
M.P.: Yes, yes, I can’t really talk about that. They are actually surprisingly within the restaurant and hotel industry. I think finally they want some point of view or personality. It’s nice to be approached by people. It’s always a surprise to see who your fans are. They want me to work on uniforms and branding. It’s a little bit of both. We’ll see what comes of it.

WWD: Will you reward yourself in any way?
M.P.: I think maybe just go watch a movie or something. I like old films. I actually really like what I do so I’m eager to get back to the studio. We have a tiny staff so in a way this is kind of rewarding.

WWD: Is there anyone you want to meet tonight who you have never met?
M.P.: Honestly, I love Hartmut Esslinger, who has won the Lifetime Achievement award. We were just saying we should have brought the Sony Walkman to have him autograph it. [The industrial designer has also worked with Apple, Louis Vuitton, SAP, Lufthansa and Microsoft.]

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