August 2, 2017

Be Original Americas Marks Five Years

The Be Original Americas booth at ICFF. Photography courtesy of Be Original Americas.

Since its founding in 2012, Be Original Americas has established itself as a leading proponent for original design. The nonprofit seeks to inform consumers, designers, and manufacturers on the value of ingenuity and authenticity.

Now in its fifth year, Be Original Americas is celebrating multiple milestones. It has expanded to 717 members, supporters, and followers, and has coordinated more than 40 panel discussions across North America. Also, the organization’s work in collaboration with the United States Customs & Border Protection has resulted in the confiscation of tens of millions of dollars’ worth of spurious furnishings.

2017 student fellows Irene Lee and Tom Groom at Carl Hansen & Son. Photography courtesy of Be Original Americas.

This summer, the company successfully organized its second annual student design fellowship. The participants, Irene Lee of Cornell University and Tom Groom of UIC, traveled to six cities as part of their exploration into original design. Over the course of the seven-week fellowship, the pair visited 16 companies in order to experience the ins and outs of the industry. Highlights included visiting the Vitra campus in Germany, making wall coverings at Flavor Paper’s Brooklyn studio, and learning about the history of Herman Miller at its Michigan headquarters. The fellowship received funding through a Kickstarter campaign, which featured exclusive prizes designed by Paula Scher, Harry Allen, Luke Hayman, Georgie Stout, and Bruce Mau.

The fellows at Artemide. Photography courtesy of Be Original Americas.

Also this summer, Be Original welcomed Studio O+A as a member. The firm, led by Interior Design Hall of Fame members Primo Orpilla and Verda Alexander, is the organization’s first architecture and design firm to come on board. The partnership raises the bar for other companies in the field to reinforce their commitment to quality design and the future of the industry.

Watch the fellows deliver their final presentation:

Video by Jackson Notier

Recent DesignWire