Introducing the 2017 Summer Design Fellows

The Be Original Americas Summer Fellowship Program begins on June 12th, and two students have been selected from an outstanding pool of applicants for a 7-week immersive experience in the making, distributing, and selling of authentic design. We spoke with the 2017 Fellows Irene Lee of Cornell University and Tom Groom of Illinois University at Chicago about what brought them to the Fellowship, what they’re most excited about, and what they’re doing when they’re not immersed in design.

The Fellows:

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Irene Lee: My name is Irene Lee and I am a junior studying Design and Environmental Analysis at Cornell University. I am passionate about sustainable and preventive design and believe these facets of design are essential to improving lives. On my university campus, I am a designer for Waste Not, a project that aims to reduce post-consumer waste contamination and prevent diversion to the landfill by creating a uniform system of signage, product labeling, and educational tools. My goal as a designer is to be process-oriented, supporting my design decisions with thorough research and innovation.

Tom Groom: I am originally English—I moved to Chicago six years ago to marry my partner who I met in France when I was on a six month trip, cycling from farm to farm. I’m a little older than other people that I go to school with (I’m the big 3-0 this year), as I didn’t go to university in England—I originally wanted to be a fighter pilot or biochemical engineer. In my early 20s I played in a band and then decided to travel England and Europe staying with families and working on farms. This experience led me to design in a very strange way, where I became interested in locally crafted objects and graphic design. I am currently studying at UIC and will graduate in 2019 with a double-major in Industrial and Graphic design, and a minor in art.

 

What are your expectations for the fellowship? 

IL: I am excited to learn about the process of producing original design, all the way from the research to the distribution. I want to learn about the design philosophies of the companies we visit and hopefully develop my own to guide my future designs and work.

TG: I don’t really have any expectations, just excitement. I’m excited to meet the other student I’ll be spending the seven weeks with and get to know her. Second, I’ve never been to New York before, so I’m really looking forward to visiting and having the chance (in some down time) to see some of the huge cultural landmarks and museums there. Lastly and most importantly, I’m very eager to learn as much as I can from the experience and hope to be able to bring some of that back to UIC with me and pass it on to my fellow students here.

 

Why did you choose the Be Original Americas Fellowship?

IL: I chose Be Original Americas Fellowship because of its immersive nature. The opportunity to step outside of the classroom environment and learn from industry professionals will truly be eye opening. I know that the fellowship will help me in setting new goals as an aspiring designer.

TG: When I found out about the Be Original Americas Fellowship, I spent time looking at the website and was incredibly excited by the companies that Be Original Americas is involved with. This is a once in a life-time opportunity to look inside these incredibly famous and productive companies. I’m really looking forward to visiting different areas of the design industry and having the chance to have design professionals help develop my insight into areas which education at university can explore, but not fully develop like full-scale manufacturing, and in-industry research and development.

 

When you are not studying – or applying for fellowships- what do you do for fun?

IL: I love exploring the outdoors and taking photos of the gems I discover! I just came back from a backpacking trip in New Zealand. I enjoyed hopping around both the North and South Island and taking in the diverse geographical landscapes.

TG: I have a couple of jobs—I work in a creative space in Chicago called Lost Arts, which is run by Charles Adler (one of the founders of Kickstarter), and also at the UIC Innovation Center for BMW. I’m the outgoing president of the UIC IDSA chapter, so the last year has been a whirlwind of events and speaking to professionals, I’m looking forward to a couple of months off from writing emails! I try and take advantage of as many opportunities as possible, so with a group of friends, I entered a competition this semester called the White Space challenge, run by Northwestern University, where we designed a vibrator for mature women. I love to read and listen to podcasts, go to live music, and stand-up comedy. I also love new-media and interactive art and try to work on one or two pieces a year for fun and to stay practiced!

 

Stay tuned to the blog and @beoriginalusa on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram this summer to follow Irene and Tom during the 2017 Fellowship Program. They’ll share exclusive images from site visits to Bernhardt Design, Carnegie, Design Within Reach, Emeco, Flavor Paper, Herman Miller, Rich Brilliant Willing, and Vitra, and update on all they’re learning along the way.

 

Members at Salone de Mobile 2017

Are you going to Salone this year? Don’t miss any Be Original Americas members – see below for a guide of who’s exhibiting and where to find them.

At Salone de Mobile:

Carl Hansen & Son: Hall 05 – Stand D10
nanimarquina: Hall 16 – Stand D41
MissoniHome: Hall 20 – Stand A11
Kartell: Hall 20 – Stand A15
Artifort: Hall 20 – Stand E21
Magis: Hall 20 – Stand C15
Vitra: Hall 20 – Stand D09
Emeco: Hall 20 – Stand E29


L to R: Emeco, Vitra, Fontana Arte

At EuroLuce:

Fontana Arte: Hall 09 – Stand A15
Terzani: Hall 09 – Stand B05
Vibia: Hall 09 – Stand C07
Artemide: Hall 11 – Stand C19
Santa & Cole: Hall 11 – Stand C33
Louis Poulsen: Hall 11 – Stand C36
Leucos: Hall 13 – Stand A09
FLOS: Hall 13 – Stand C09
Marset: Hall 13 – Stand D05
Michael Anastassiades: Hall 13 – Stand D08
Secto: Hall 13 – Stand E04
Pablo Design: Hall 13 – Stand F15


L to R: Fritz Hansen, Tom Dixon, Santa & Cole

Showrooms in Milan:

Herman Miller: Corso Garibaldi 70
Fritz Hansen: Piazza S. Simpliciano
Cassina: Via Durini 16
Alessi: Via Manzoni 14/16
Moooi: Via Savona 56 – Area 56
Fantini: Via Solferino 18
Tom Dixon: Teatro Manzoni, Via Manzoni 42


L to R: Leucos, FLOS, Terzani

 

Let us know you’re going and what your favorite exhibits are by tagging us on Twitter and Instagram @BeOriginalUSA!

10 Short Takeaways from Last Year’s Be Original Americas Design Fellows

As a college student, it’s hard not to be overwhelmed when trying to sift through numerous summer opportunities. Each program promises incredible and unique experiences, so what makes the Be Original Americas Summer Design Fellowship stand out from the rest? Check out what last year’s fellows had to say:

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The 2016 Fellows present at the 2017 Be Original Americas Annual Members meeting.

 

“As a young designer, my thought process is constantly evolving and this immersive program allowed me to explore areas of design I haven’t seen or done before.” – Karina Campos

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Getting hands-on experience at Bernhardt Design.

 

“This experience exposed me to so many things that I had never heard of before… it really gave me a better overall understanding of how things work in the real world.” – Sarah Ahart

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Sarah and Karina at Harry Allen’s studio.

 

“One thing that became more apparent during the fellowship is that in order to sustain the design industry, it is vital that we challenge the way in which knowledge is passed from established design professionals to young designers.”
– Sarah Ahart

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The 2016 Fellows get an inside look at design processes at Carnegie.

 

“After this incredible experience, I have learned to approach design a little differently and think beyond the confines of my own discipline. It makes for a more holistic and meaningful way of designing.” – Karina Campos

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A peek into the marketing of design with Spencer Bailey, Editor-in-Chief, Surface Magazine.

 

“Be prepared to have your thought process turned on its side, come in with an open mind of design possibilities because the things you will experience during this fellowship are lasting impacts that change the way you will view design.”
– Karina Campos

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The Fellows try out some of Ligne Roset’s original designs.

 

“The fellowship ignited this new interest in spatial design and understanding the relationship between people and the environments and how design fits into that realm.” – Karina Campos

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Interested in a hands-on experience that will change the way you think about your career in design? Click here to apply until 2/28.

 

Coming Up: The 2017 Summer Design Fellowship

The 2017 Summer Design Fellowship is now open for applications. Fellows will visit pioneers and leaders in the design industry, including Bernhardt, Carnegie, Design Within Reach, Emeco, Flavor Paper, Rich Brilliant Willing, FLOS and Vitra. They’ll dive deep into all aspects of creating innovative, high-quality products: from research, design, and manufacturing to marketing, distribution, and promotion through hands-on, in-the-field learning.

Already sold? Apply here, and read on for some highlights from the 2016 fellowship: Continue reading “Coming Up: The 2017 Summer Design Fellowship” »

The Originals: Felicia Ferrone

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What does “original” mean to you?
As a designer “original” means having the intent to create something unique, something that doesn’t already exist.  It’s that simple.

How does the interconnection of the world today actually encourage designers towards unique design?
Now that we all have the same access to all the same resources, it’s more crucial now than ever to be original.  The internet gives us a unique opportunity to view designs from all over the world and to self-educate in an unprecedented way. Through the interconnection we are able to see where the conversations exist and where there are gaps.

What do original industrial design and artisanal craftsmanship have in common?
Industrial design and artisanal craftsmanship are two sides of the same coin.  For me the most important question is really about ‘originality’ which I feel comes down to the intent:  Whether there is intent to create something truly new and unique that expresses an idea that is adding to the overall conversation.  ‘Not original’ works are about a financial gain, lack of education, and not about ideas.

I strongly feel that if you are going to copy someone else’s work, just stay in bed that morning!  The world would be better off.

 

Born in Chicago, Felicia Ferrone graduated with a degree in architecture from Miami University, Ohio, after which she moved to Milan. Ferrone’s expansive reach is informed by her early experience as an architect in Milan, where she was first taught to “blur boundaries.” In a series of positions with some of Italy’s most notable design luminaries, among them Antonio Citterio and Piero Lissoni, she developed her belief that all aspects of design are interdependent, that nothing exists in a vacuum but always in relation to the environment, objects, and systems that surround it. Her award winning work is included in the Art Institute of Chicago’s permanent collection, is a recipient of a GOOD DESIGN Award, and her work is widely exhibited and published internationally. She is the Director of Graduate Studies in Industrial Design and a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and previously an Lecturer at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago for many years. Producing and distributing her own work under her brand, fferrone, she also does commissioned work for clients, of which Boffi, The Macallan, and Volume Gallery among others.

 

Looking Ahead to 2017

In the spirit of the New Year, we’re looking back at Be Original Americas’ most successful year yet and ahead to what’s in store for 2017. We asked prominent designers, activists, and influencers in the design world on their take on how design has changed since January 2016 and where it’s heading now.

Read more on the legacy of Zaha Hadid, influence of 3D printing, emergence of calculated luxury and more from Be Original Americas members Colin Wilkinson of YLighting and YLiving, Danne Semeraro of Sempli, Jaime Derringer of Design Milk, president John Edelman of Design Within Reach, and co-founder Beth Dickstein of bde.

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What do you think was the most influential moment in design in 2016?

Colin Wilkinson: The untimely passing of legendary architect and designer Zaha Hadid, in my view, influenced design most critically in 2016. It was both a tremendous loss to the community, and spurred a necessary recognition of women in design.

Danne Semeraro: More than a moment, I want to point out a few striking observations in 2016: Memphis throwback: The one style that was most prevalent this year was the revival of the Memphis movement in a modern (more or less) representation. 2016 was also the year the DIY/hand-crafted movement grew up and became fully mainstream.

Jaime Derringer: The death of Zaha Hadid was a big moment in 2016, so sudden. It reminds us that our work is what we leave behind and do we must strive to continue to push and break boundaries. We need to also continue to expose and encourage girls and young women to pursue a career in architecture and design.

John Edelman: In November, Herman Miller launched the remastered Aeron Chair. Bill Stumpf and Don Chadwick designed this iconic piece in 1994. It still sold very well and was extremely popular, but Herman Miller wondered, “Can it be better?” After all, there had been 20 years’ research in the science of sitting, as well as key advancements in materials since its debut. The remastered Aeron is what modern design is all about. Updating products as new materials and techniques become available is how the world moves forward. And in no way do the changes make this Aeron any less authentic than the 1994 chair. In some ways, it’s even more authentic than the first chair since Don Chadwick, who was instrumental in this project, could finally do some of the things he and Stumpf wanted to do in the 1990s but couldn’t because the technology didn’t exist yet.  It was a risk for Herman Miller to remaster a masterpiece, but the results speak for themselves. Customers love the remastered Aeron.

Beth Dickstein: For us, it would be the recognition by the U.S. Customs & Border Protection agency on the problem of counterfeit furnishings and accessories coming into (and out of) the U.S. Allowing us to help educate and train their agents has been a tremendous influence.

 

What do you predict will be the biggest design trend in 2017?

CW: The bidet. While slow to catch on in the United States, there is increased exposure to this longstanding luxury thanks to easy-to-install toilet seats that feature bidet functionality. Between these hi-tech enhancements available for your existing toilet, and stellar standalone bidets by designers such as Philippe Starck, I predict this to be the must-have of 2017.

DS: The Memphis throwback style will modernize itself and perhaps be distilled down to a few main trends and take on a positive role and make 2017 a “happy” design year.

JD: Art Deco and Craftsman-inspired design and the rise of democratic 3D printing.

JE: I wouldn’t call this a trend, as that word doesn’t play a big role in modernism, but choosing longevity over “fine for now” is something I predict we’ll see more of in 2017. Today’s consumers no longer want to settle for disposable product. They care about what they bring into their homes, and they worry about what happens to products when these objects reach the end of their useful lives. Two things are driving this shift. First, consumers are realizing that it’s worth it to pay more for something they really like and that will last, rather than choosing the cheaper option and having to replace it a few years later. Also, changes in manufacturing are making it possible for companies to produce high quality products that meet a wider variety of budgets.

BD: My wicked brain is thinking “gold and gaudy”, but I hope not. I do think more embellishment though.

 

If you could describe the 2016 design climate in one word, what would it be?

CW: Diverse. As an online brand that celebrates originality and authenticity, we have uncovered more voices in the modern luxury space than I could have ever imagined. It’s an exciting time in design, where a team of two in Brooklyn can truly nudge the whole industry should their vision resonate.

DS: Paradoxical.

JD: Calculated luxury. (That’s two words, but one concept.)

JE: Inventive. People are creating more new products with authorship and integrity than ever before.

BD: Healthy. I thought this year saw a lot of great design coming from large and small companies. I also saw more collaborations between companies, which is great.

 

What do you wish for Be Original Americas in 2017?

CW: Tremendous success, of course. We are proud partners of Be Original Americas, and look forward to another great year of preservation and celebration of authentic design.

DS: To become the household name for the promotion, preservation and education on original design and its true value!

JD: To continue to grow awareness of and educate people about the negative impact of the knockoff industry on the livelihood and creativity of designers and manufacturers. It would be great to get more members involved in more events and panels around this topic.

JE: My wish for Be Original Americas is to continue to explain the value of authenticity, and how knockoffs destroy the design community and hurt consumers.

BD: That more and more people become aware of the organization and movement. That more and more people understand the detriment that copies have on our economy, our environment and that so many are produced in unsafe factories and use hazardous materials.

 

Wishing you a happy and original New Year from all of us at Be Original Americas. Want to be involved in 2017? Click here for more information on how to become a member.

Photograph of John Edelman by Neil Landino, Jr.

Profiling the Masters: Le Corbusier

“I prefer drawing to talking. Drawing is faster, and leaves less room for lies.” —Le Corbusier (1887 – 1965)
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Le Corbusier by Willy Rizzo. Photos © Willy Rizzo

Le Corbusier, born Charles-Édouard Jeanneret in 1887, was a Swiss-French architect, designer, painter, writer, and urban planner. Often known as one of the pioneers of modern architecture, his storied career spanned five decades and his work can be found across the globe.

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Unite d’habitation, 1952. Le Corbusier’s first large-scale housing project. Photo © Guzman Lozano

In 1917, Le Corbusier moved to Paris, a move which would be highly influential on the rest of his career. There, he met post-Cubist Amédée Ozenfant and the two developed Purism, a new concept of painting and design. Three years later, he would adopt the pseudonym Le Corbusier.

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Famously, he linked architecture to revolution, designing with the intentions and needs of a technological and machine-driven society in mind. On why he linked the two concepts, “Modern life demands, and is waiting for, a new kind of plan, both for the house and the city.”

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From Le Corbusier’s book “The Radiant City” (1933)

Le Corbusier’s style was characterized by clear and geometric forms and structure. He built primarily with steel and reinforced concrete, creating minimalist and striking lines in each of his projects.

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Villa Savoye. Photo © Flavio Bragaia

Famous works among many include Villa Savoye (above) in Poissy, France (1931) and Palace of Assembly in Chandigarh, India (below) (1951).

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Photo by Dave Morris.

Curious to learn about more iconic designers? See our entire Profiling the Masters series here.

Profiling the Masters: George Nelson

“Design is a process. One starts with a need, a problem, and ends up with a design for a thing.” -George Nelson

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Early in his storied career, Nelson was appointed director of design at Herman Miller, a position he held for almost 30 years. While there, he recruited other iconic modern designers, including Charles and Ray Eames and Isamu Noguchi.

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The Herman Miller designers. From L to R: Robert Propst, Alexander Girard, George Nelson, D. J. De Pree (founder), Ray and Charles Eames. 

Nelson was famous for such pieces as the Coconut Chair, Marshmallow Sofa, and Ball Clock, all which depicted his playfulness and whimsy.

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The Coconut Chair.

In addition to creating and directing design, George Nelson was a powerful writer and teacher. Throughout his career, he wrote several articles for publications like Pencil Points and lectured on the importance of design across the country.

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Nelson at work.

One of the most inventive minds of his time, George Nelson had the rare ability to envision what was not yet there. He called his creative epiphanies a series of “zaps” – moments of spontaneous inspiration that allowed him to connect seemingly unrelated ideas in an innovative fashion.

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The Marshmallow Sofa.

A pioneer of modern design, George Nelson’s innovative solutions and pieces have undoubtedly shaped design as we know it today.

All photo credit: Herman Miller.

Learn more about the masters of design here.

The Originals: Laura Guido-Clark

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What does “original” mean to you?
Original is a creation that is unique and authentic that emanates from a point of view or personal inspiration. While work can be influenced and inspired by the world around us originality radiates an energy and beauty which comes from an honest place.

In what ways is protecting original design today important for future generations?
It is important to protect original design and to educate future generations because original work provides meaning. It has value and is worth passing on much like one collects art. If we don’t protect original design we will have soulless objects. We risk losing the essence and palpable energy that only comes from original work and the value of craft, art, and design.

Have you noticed a role that color plays in preventing or facilitating copycats?
Color, material and finish can play a role in identifying copycats. Unique colors and combinations, gloss levels and materials in combinations become intrinsic to the original and are more difficult to duplicate in their holistic totality. Color plays such a powerful role in brand recognition that companies often try to trademark their brand colors. A Louboutin red heel, Tiffany’s blue and UPS brown evokes an emotional response that the consumer connects directly to them. Trademarking protects these brands from competitors within the same industries who attempt to be mistaken for that brand.

 

Laura Guido-Clark is an expert in the skin of consumer products – their color, materials, and finish. Laura has spent her life studying the always new and surprising ways that human beings react to the look and feel of any given product. As a result, her insights and honed process have defined her role as an experience consultant to help her clients connect with their consumers in a meaningful way.

Laura has analyzed the conscious and unconscious influences that drive buying decisions. Her ability to translate those influences into prescient forecasting and concrete applications of color and finish has helped companies such as Herman Miller, HP, Samsung, Toyota and FLOR design products that resonate with consumers and succeed in competitive markets.

In 2011, Laura founded Project Color Corps™, a nonprofit organization dedicated to painting urban neighborhoods with color and pattern that impart positive messages of optimism and hope.

Are You Listening to Clever Podcast Yet?

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Be Original Americas is proud to highlight Clever, a podcast about design. Hosted by Designer Amy Devers and Design Milk’s Jaime Derringer, Clever is about designers and the world they help create.

Learn more about the podcast here and listen to a recent episode sponsored by Be Original Americas, featuring former NFL linebacker, actor, writer, artist, and design patron Terry Crews.