On January 31, 2018, a veritable who’s who of the design industry met at the Volvo Hall in the NYC Scandinavia House on Park Avenue for the fourth-annual Be Original Americas member meeting. On the agenda: discussing progress made in 2017 and the highlights to come for 2018.
Founded in 2012, Be Original Americas, a 501(c)6 non-profit, seeks to inform, influence, and educate the design community on the value of authentic design while investing in its future. As stated by Sam Grawe, Global Brand director at Herman Miller and departing Be Original Americas president, at the beginning of the meeting, “Any design is a bet that the future will be better than today.”
The highlights of the meeting touched upon the great strides the organization is making and plans for the upcoming year.
Be Original America has gained more than 750 members, supporters, and followers.
The organization increased its membership and following by one-third in 2017, joining the likes of companies such as Bernhardt Design, Cassina, Design Within Reach, Emeco, FLOS, Republic of Fritz Hansen, Herman Miller, Kartell, Ligne Roset, and Vitra—charter members of Be Original Americas.
The organization has welcomed well-known names to the ranks. Architecture and design firms Studio O+A, Michael Graves Architecture & Design, and Gensler have joined Be Original. Architecture and design members continue to commit to original design through their work. Gensler will serve as a board member in 2018 and 2019, helping to spearhead Be Original Americas’ future plans.
Be Original is working with United States Customs and Boarder Protection (US CBP). Alongside several of its member companies, Be Original Americas works closely with the United States Customs and Boarder Protection to help train officers and stifle the flow of knockoffs entering the country. In 2017 alone, the US CBP was able to seize tens of millions of dollars of counterfeit furnishings. Forty-seven containers of Herman Miller goods were seized in the past 18 months with the cost totaling upwards of $17 million.
The group will continue to develop AIA- and IDCEC-approved CEU courses. Since developing its CEU course in 2015, Be Original Americas has presented to 750-plus designers and architects. In 2018, the program will be revised to include not only advancements in the industry, but also webinars in addition to in-person presentations.
The purpose of the course is to examine the nature of creativity and innovation, discuss counterfeits’ impact on the industry, review the costs of engaging in the trade of counterfeit design, and to illustrate supporting the creative ecosystem.
More than 40 panel discussions will be hosted in 27 cities throughout North America. Adding to its impressive resume of in-person discussions, each year Be Original Americas organizes a program of panel discussions. In 2018, town hall meetings will occur in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Chicago for members and industry professionals, and the organization will be speaking at several trade shows and industry events, including WantedDesign in New York, Metrocon in Dallas, and Design Week Mexico in Mexico City.
Additionally, 2018 will see the continuation of the Student Design Fellowship <www.beoriginalamericas.com/fellowship>, which will be entering its third year. Two student fellows will be chosen to participate in the program from June 11 to July 31, learning on-site lessons from companies such as Carnegie, Skram, Pablo Designs, and Michael Graves Architecture & Design.
Lastly, the 2018 officers of Be Original Americas were announced. They will include:
- President: John Edelman, Design Within Reach
- Vice President: Coleman Gutshall, Bernhardt Design
- Treasurer: Karolina Dabo, Fritz Hansen
- Secretary: Anthony Lebron, Cappellini
For more information about Be Original Americas, visit www.beoriginalamericas.com