Week 5: Herman Miller, Skyline Design and Maya Romanoff

There are only a few more weeks of the second annual Be Original Americas Student Design Fellowship! Catch up on our weekly recaps to learn what this year’s Fellows – Tom and Irene – have been experiencing here.

In Week 5, Tom and Irene traveled to Herman Miller’s headquarters in Zeeland, MI for a three day long deep-dive that included tours of the design yard, test lab, archives and more. Then, the Fellows headed to Chicago, IL to spend a day with Skyline Design at their plant and another day with Maya Romanoff, touring the facilities and working on a creative project.

You got to tour the Herman Miller archives. What did you learn by looking back at design history?

Irene: It was overwhelming to walk into the Herman Miller archives and see the filing cabinets, boxes, and shelves filled with printed ads, textiles, chairs, and so much more. Amy, the Herman Miller archivist, also took us through the story of Herman Miller’s establishment and development into a company renowned for its iconic furniture and systems designs. Starting as a family business, D.J. DePree built relationships with designers and took advantage of a time when the needs of people and institutions were changing. The archive is the best resource for Herman Miller to look back at its history, as cultural heritage is the core of the company.

I can’t forget to talk about our hands-on experience at the assembly facilities in the Greenhouse at Herman Miller. As any student interested in ergonomic design, we are trained to design for the well-being of the end user. However, I realized that the design process was missing a step, and that is also to design for operators. Personally, being petite never really helps in any type of shop environment, and assembling on the production line for a short while was physically straining. How could the environment be adjusted to reduce the distance operators had to reach for components, while also considering the range of anthropometrics among both females and males? Could organizational changes be made in training to support the needs of not only right-handed operators but also those who are left handed? My time at the assembly facility was a source of observational learning that I hope to incorporate into my design process.

Tom: Experiencing the Herman Miller archives was inspirational, seeing everything from original sales booklets, print adverts and photography, to the physical archive—they even have an Eames house tucked away! My visit here helped me to place Herman Miller in a greater context, and to see how the collected history of a company,  which can be used to help inform, resurrect and continue the culture of a company, can also be used to make sure that the individual stories of the products can continue to be told in the future. Strangely I hadn’t really considered before how the archive could also help inform the design department through the collection of pieces and an educated knowledge of reference and research to help designs stay true to their original designs, which shows another reason why it is so valuable.

What was it like to tour Skyline Design’s plant?

Irene: Skyline Design’s methods of creating glass have evolved through time, with technologies that allowed the company to take its designs to the next step. Everything is done in-house at its headquarters in Chicago, which is a benefit to the lifecycle of its designs. Developing its own proprietary machines to invent new ways from cutting to etching glass, Skyline Design has continually pushed the boundaries of what glass can do for people and the surrounding environment. An idea that was highlighted by Deborah, the creative director of Skyline Design, was to ensure that everything they did was intentional and not an afterthought. This idea was clearly evident during my visit to Skyline Design.

Tom: Skyline was an amazing place to visit. It was incredible to tour their facilities and to see the intricate work which they are able to produce. Their story of how they have constantly been developing and broadening their capabilities to stay at the apex of the industry and how this has allowed them to develop a huge range of capabilities gave me a great insight of a company growing into a design powerhouse. Experiencing the breadth of their facilities and the fact that they are always looking to develop new processes really demonstrated how they are always trying to innovate so that they can offer more visual capacity to clients.

Tell us about your creative project at Maya Romanoff. What did you learn?

Irene: We got to get our hands dirty at Maya Romanoff and make our own panel of Maya’s signature Mesa wallpaper. Maya Romanoff’s beautiful wallpaper involves so much trial and error during development, and craft during creation. The company truly finds novel ways of incorporating different materials and techniques to create a design that redefines the traditional definition of wallpaper. Because each panel of wallpaper is different, craftsmen number the panels to ensure a natural flow within each piece. In terms of quality control, all the wallpaper is inspected by eye before shipping. Seeing the process from start to finish during our creative project again reminded me of the importance of human touch to create original design.

Tom: Maya Romanoff was another fascinating experience. Each length of wallpaper had at least two people working on it at all times and the final pieces were all inspected by hand and then arranged for the best “flow.” It was interesting to see that one can be somewhat playful and take inspiration from everywhere and anywhere, and then take that back to the studio and just try things until you get the effect you were looking for. In the hands-on segment of the experience, it was pretty easy to see that the vast experience of the craft that the workers have there is definitely important—I’ll just say that our attempt at a piece of wallpaper wouldn’t have been winning Maya Romanoff any more awards!

Stay tuned for more from Tom and Irene, the 2017 Be Original Americas Student Design Fellows, as they recap their experiences each week here on the blog and on our social channels: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Week 4: The Fellows Visit Vitra HQ

Have you been following our weekly recaps of the second annual Be Original Americas Student Design Fellowship?

Each week, Tom and Irene will be answering a few questions to recap their experience and provide an insider’s look at what they’re learning. (Catch up with the previous weeks here)

In Week 4, Tom and Irene traveled to the Vitra Campus in Weil am Rhein, Germany and the company’s offices in Birsfelden, Switzerland. The Fellows spent the week immersed in all things Vitra, learning about everything from product development and testing to marketing to PR and more.

The Vitra Slide Tower by the German artist Carsten Höller

You got to see and experience a lot of Vitra’s campus in Germany. What was your favorite part? What was your biggest takeaway? Was there anything that surprised you?

Irene: Vitra was definitely a “good host,” as the Eames mantra goes. We were welcomed onto the campus and surrounded by amazing architecture, iconic design products, and passionate people. Our days consisted of touring through Zaha Hadid’s fire station, learning about the evolution of the Panton chair in the Schaudepot, visiting the headquarters to have an active dialogue about original design, and the list goes on. Throughout the range of experiences, a common thread I found to be true is Vitra’s dedication to integrating a story and process in its endeavors. By communicating those stories, Vitra hopes to educate and immerse consumers with the cultural legacy of the brand.

The Panton chair in the Schaudepot

I believe that one of the most successful things that Vitra does is opening up the campus to the public and allowing individuals to develop their definition of originality through experience. As an outsider looking in, the manufacturing process for chairs and the endless number of tests done on them was surprising. From redefining a method of upholstering through welding to back durability and UV testing, Vitra invests in innovation and creates for longevity through generations.

I can’t seem to choose a favorite part of my visit to Vitra because it was so holistic. Choosing one would deny the relationships each sight and each conversation had with the other. However, through each day, I was able to absorb the affirmative spirit Vitra upholds in celebrating the power of good design. My three days there were thought provoking and I hope to apply what I have learned to research, create, and sustain good design in my education and career. Thank you, Vitra so much for the wonderful experience!

Behind the scenes at Vitra HQ, as captured by Irene Lee

Tom: This was the first time we have been able to spend this long with a single company, and everyone worked incredibly hard to make sure that the three days we had on the campus were packed with meetings and experiences. There was so much to process that I am still catching up, to be honest! The access Vitra gave us to their process was unbelievable – everything from marketing and strategy through to the production facilities. It was amazing to have such an honest and candid view of the inside workings of such a renowned company. All of the great conversations gave me so much to think about around the concepts of authenticity and originality. We were also able to have honest discussions around how the business functions and how it functions as both a B2B and B2C company, which led to some interesting thoughts around messaging and communicating with a varied global audience with one voice.

This year’s fellows visit Vitra, where they got a look at all parts of the design process.

The access Vitra gave us to their process was unbelievable – everything from marketing and strategy through to the production facilities. It was amazing to have such an honest and candid view of the inside workings of such a renowned company. All of the great conversations gave me so much to think about around the concepts of authenticity and originality. We were also able to have honest discussions around how the business functions and how it functions as both a B2B and B2C company, which led to some interesting thoughts around messaging and communicating with a varied global audience with one voice.

It’s really hard to pick a favorite part of the whole experience. I think the architecture of the campus has to be up there, it really makes you understand the principals of the company as a project. It’s an idea which permeates every aspect of the company and makes it more than just a brand, but instead a cultural movement which has had a deep and lasting effect on the world of design and architecture.

Another view inside the Schaudepot, designed by Herzog & de Meuron

The Schaudepot has to be up there also—to see so many (400) iconic pieces of furniture in such a small space is incredibly impactful, especially as most of them I had only ever seen in books and never thought I would have the chance to see in the flesh. Finally, on the last evening, I decided to join the citizens of Basel, participating in something we had watched them do for the pay few days. I’ll never forget floating down the Rhine under old stone bridges on a Sunny evening in July as long as I live.

On the Rhine near Vitra’s Campus

Stay tuned for more from Tom and Irene, the 2017 Be Original Americas Student Design Fellows, as they recap their experiences each week here on the blog and on our social channels: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Week 3: Behind the Scenes Manufacturing

Welcome to Week 3 of the second annual Be Original Americas Student Design Fellowship!

Each week, Tom and Irene will be answering a few questions to recap their experience and provide an insider’s look at what they’re learning. (Catch up with Week 1 and Week 2)

The Fellows are about halfway through the 7-week program, and this week Tom and Irene went the behind the scenes for factory experiences with Emeco and FLOS/Lukas Lighting.

At Emeco’s factory in Hanover, PA, Tom and Irene tried their hand at the 77 steps it takes to manufacture the classic Emeco Navy Chair.

Back in New York City at FLOS/Lukas Lighting, the Fellows met with Craig Corona, founder of Lukas Lighting, to get a look at what it takes to create custom lighting projects – from conception to production.

You got to witness and participate at Emeco’s factory firsthand. What was your favorite part about the trip to Hanover, PA?

Tom: This was my first real experience in a factory, so to see the transformation from raw material into components and then products, and the wide range of processes and tools which Emeco uses as well as the skilled hand-labor which it takes to produce their chairs was great. The openness of Emeco’s factory made it really easy to see how the raw materials come in, are shaped and transformed individually, and then treated and combined to create a product. I was very glad to be able to learn about the rationalization of the production procedures within the factory which help to improve efficiency and the quality. I think it was important to see the process the factory goes through when producing a new piece with designers, using spec sheets and their experience and skills to realize a vision. This helped me to consider my future designs in terms of feasibility and manufacturing capabilities.

Irene: My favorite part of my visit to Emeco was seeing aluminum transform throughout the 77 step process. Each step was mastered by a craftsman and the material was brought to life, either pressed under 220 tons by one of the original machines or bent with new technologies such as the CNC bender. Trying a hand at grinding down welds and upholstering a seat also made me realize the amount of time and effort it takes to polish your craft. Now, when I look at any piece of original design, I know I will appreciate its carefully engineered and crafted form and recognize not only the final product but also the thoughtful manufacturing behind the piece.

What was something you learned about the design process at FLOS/Lukas Lighting?

Tom: My experience talking Craig Corona of Lukas Lighting showed me that partnering with people with specific expertise in certain fields allows you to create better, more thought out designs. FLOS’s partnership with Lukas Lighting has given them access to a huge wealth of experience in the North American market beyond just certifications, but through to the culture of work and industry within the interiors market. That’s a huge advantage which allows them to understand their potential customers, but also the people who will be fitting and wiring their products; and the more you understand, the more intuitively you can design.

Irene: Walking through the shop facilities and offices and seeing stacks of specs and renderings partnered with prototypes made me realize how much Lukas Lighting pushes the limits to discover new capabilities with its lighting solutions. I learned that in order for a design process to even begin, you need to understand the properties of materials and the extent of technologies that may be used to create a tangible product from the design vision. You can open up another book of possibilities by trying out a new sequence of LEDs with different color temperatures or testing out different felts for sound absorbance. That’s what excites me about the design process, because it’s a never-ending learning experience.

Stay tuned for more from Tom and Irene, the 2017 Be Original Americas Student Design Fellows, as they recap their experiences each week here on the blog and on our social channels: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Week 2: The Fellows Visit Carnegie, Flavor Paper and More

Welcome to Week 2 of the second annual Be Original Americas Student Design Fellowship! Each week, Tom and Irene will be answering a few questions to recap their experience and provide an insider’s look at what they’re learning. Catch up with Week 1 here and see below for a look at Week 2.

Week 2
In their second week, Tom and Irene first visited Be Original Americas member Carnegie. The Fellows spent Monday and Tuesday with Carnegie, learning all about the textile brand’s process with visits to a textile mill, the creative studio, maker Erik Bruce’s studio and more.

On Wednesday, Tom and Irene zigzagged across New York to visit showrooms and designers: Lissoni US, nanimarquina, FontanaArte and Chilewich.

At Flavor Paper on Thursday, the Fellows got a hands-on experience screening wallpaper and learning about their process start to finish.

Friday, Tom and Irene met with WantedDesign co-founders Odile Hainaut and Claire Pijoulat for a Q&A about finding your own path and building a network. Then, they met Spencer Bailey, Editor-in-Chief, Surface Magazine for lunch and swung by Tom Dixon’s showroom in the afternoon.

You saw the creative studio and maker Erik Bruce’s studio at Carnegie this week. What did you learn about the creative process behind original design?

Tom: One of the most impactful things Erik said was as simple as, “If you can’t hide it, feature it.” It’s a really simple concept, but sometimes one gets wrapped up in perfection or the idealized concept of it, and doesn’t celebrate honesty. Every material has its own properties and exploring those in a way which allows them to be expressed, creates the potential for a much more cohesive and complete aesthetic. Original design isn’t just about the form or function of a design, but the expression and understanding of materiality.

Irene: Not all windows are created equal, as each has its own unique beauties and imperfections. Erik’s favorite phrase, “Don’t hide it, feature it,” definitely embraces this idea, where each treatment and covering is customized to the window to enhance the qualities of the environment. The creative process behind original design is so complex, and for Erik, involves several site visits to get dimensions, capture window characteristics, and inspire his use of materials. Visiting the studio, I learned that the creative process is far from linear, but remaining involved and dedicated leads to original design.

After getting hands-on production experience at Flavor Paper, are there any strategies or ideas that will influence your own work?

Tom: After hearing Jon’s story and being lucky enough to spend some time with him and the rest of the team, there were a few really important things that I took away. Catastrophes happen—but if you really have a passion to do something, you have to bounce back and keep on going. Find a way to surround yourself with people who have as much passion for the work and the company (and its goals) as you do. Lastly and most important of all: experiment, test, play, talk, and never discount an idea.

Irene: Our tour through Flavor Paper’s silk screening facility took us to a table full of wallpaper samples with varying color combinations, too many to count. In the showroom, we not only saw traditional toile wallpapers with a modern twist, but we also scratched and sniffed wallpapers. Flavor Paper is forward thinking and playful in its wallpaper designs. Often times, students like myself, especially in an academic setting, forget to incorporate fun into our designs. Of course, it is not appropriate in every setting and project, but my experience at Flavor Paper will definitely remind me to enjoy every step of the design process, even when that deadline is fast approaching.

Stay tuned for more from Tom and Irene, the 2017 Be Original Americas Student Design Fellows, as they recap their experiences each week here on the blog and on our social channels: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Week 1: Be Original Americas Fellows Land in NYC

The second annual Be Original Americas Student Design Fellowship has kicked off! This year’s Fellows, Tom Groom and Irene Lee, touched down in New York City last Monday to begin their 7-week immersive journey.

So, what did the Fellows get up to in their first week? Check it out:

Week 1
First, Tom and Irene toured the Midtown Manhattan showrooms of Be Original Americas members Carl Hansen & Son, Chilewich, Herman Miller and Moooi.

The next day, the Fellows visited the Soho showrooms of Be Original Americas members Alessi, Artemide, FLOS, Gandia Blasco and Kartell.

On Friday, the Fellows traveled to Design Within Reach’s offices in Stamford, CT to meet with the marketing and creative departments.

Each week, Tom and Irene will be answering a few questions to recap their experience and provide an insider’s look at what they’re learning.

After visiting showrooms across New York City, what was one thing you learned about showing original design

Tom: It’s really difficult. Demonstrating the originality of design isn’t as easy as having beautiful objects displayed in a concept-led living situation like Herman Miller, or creating a specifically designed environment where the emphasis is placed on the individuality of the objects like Kartell. What was really important about having the time to speak to people representing these huge brands in the industry, was finding out what makes them and their products original. Hearing from them what their companies focus on and then being able to place that in the context of the showroom really helped me understand the companies from a totally different perspective. Everything is about narrative, education and engagement.

Irene: I learned that all original design has a story to tell. The storytelling aspect of the products really came to life for me when I was able to touch and feel the furniture and lighting, embrace the details, and learn about the intention of the designers. The depth and breadth of manufacturing processes and craftsmanship utilized for creating an Alessi fruit bowl or a Wishbone Chair also emphasized companies’ dedication towards providing the highest quality for its users. The story was further communicated in the showroom, where the products were put it context or environments that made them feel personal. Showroom hopping across New York City was a fun and extremely valuable experience for me where I was able to get out of the classroom and ask industry professionals questions and try out the products!

Share something you were surprised to learn or see during the first week.

Tom: Obviously the nature of work and its relationship with workers through technology is really changing our world. To have the opportunity to speak with certain companies like Herman Miller and Artemide, who are responding to this really important and current issue in how they message their products was fantastic. Herman Miller presents itself as a serviceable to help produce the “Living Office,” a space somewhere between home and work, where the comfort of people and their happiness inevitably leads to a more productive and efficient workforce. Artemide spoke similarly about lighting conditions, ensuring that “Human Light” was present, which enabled people to live healthy lives. I think in school we tend to narrow the scope of our perspective on the world, and so this insight into framing the problems that people face around a larger societal shift was a huge eye-opener.

Irene: I never realized how much human touch is dedicated to developing and refining a product. During our visit to the Design Within Reach headquarters, I saw a board filled with all the pages of the upcoming catalog to be refined through several rounds of edits by the members. At Chilewich, we learned that Sandy Chilewich personally approves every design after iterations and meeting with designers and the manufacturer. The list goes on with every company that we visited and I learned that the collaboration of people in interdisciplinary fields makes the production of beautiful furniture, lighting, and tableware possible.

Stay tuned for more from Tom and Irene, the 2017 Be Original Americas Student Design Fellows, as they recap their experiences each week here on the blog and on our social channels: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Career Day: Be Original Americas at WantedDesign Industry City

From Industry City to the Javits Center and everywhere in between, Be Original Americas made its mark on NYCxDESIGN 2017. As part of the festivities surrounding New York’s design celebration, Be Original Americas sponsored a panel during Wanted Design Career Day called “How I Made It…My Way” which brought together leading individuals in the industry to share their paths to success to a full house of students and professionals at the Industry City site. The talk showed how being authentic – as a person, and not just as a product – created success for each panelist.

Panelists included Michael Hermann, Director of Licensing, Warhol Foundation, Monica Molenaar, Co-Founder, Seed & Mill Artisanal Halva & Tahini, Marco Pasanella, Owner, Pasanella & Son, Patrick Askew, Executive Vice President, Capital Division, NYCEDC, and Jon Sherman, Founder, Owner & Creative Director, Flavor Paper. The panel was moderated by Felix Burrichter, founder and creative director, PIN–UP magazine.

Read on for some highlights from the event, and view the full talk below.

From a member of the audience: A common theme has been this sense of having your own intuitive voice and knowing what you like/didn’t like. In the trajectory that developed, how have you learned to manage your different feelings of fear/hesitation/doubt at the various crosswords of your journey? How did you deal with outside influence (or not), or not knowing how to get to the next step?

Michael: I take really long baths. I don’t do it that often, but it really allows me to clear my head. Especially in this day and age when you’re constantly distracted by things and have all this information coming at you from different ways… There are different opinions, some you care deeply about and some just passing in… The more experience I have the more I’ve come to trust my instincts.

Monica: I wish that I would have trusted myself earlier and given myself the ability to enjoy the moment and see that every step along the way actually informs the next step… The benefit of age and time and having kids… has been realizing what’s important to help me grow myself. But, sometimes the voices from the outside are extremely important – if not for my partner I wouldn’t be where I am.

Patrick: Embrace failure. It took me awhile to embrace it, but it allowed me to take on big projects and no longer fear failure.

Jon: Facing your fears is what really helps you grow and understand what makes you happy and what you want to do. The more you experience putting yourself out there… the failures will make you learn a lot more than the wins. When you fall flat on your face and have to pick yourself up again: that’s when you learn something.

Marco: When you chart your own course you’re very connected to your voice inside. But, when you get older, you’re less threatened by the other voices and you’re more open to listening to other people. Listening to other people gives you the ability to say “what is it about what you’re doing that they’re talking about” rather than just ignoring them and barreling ahead.



Stay tuned to our blog for more coverage on NYCxDESIGN 2017.

All images by Federica Carlet.

Be Original Americas at ICFF

In addition to sponsoring the panel at Wanted Design Industry City’s Career Day, Be Original Americas had a booth at ICFF. At the booth, attendees were able to donate on the spot to our Kickstarter supporting the 2nd Annual Design Fellowship, brand the knockoffs of iconic chairs with graffiti of their thoughts on copycat design, and learn about featured original designs by Vitra, Herman Miller, Kartell, Fritz Hansen and Emeco. Over 280 people asked for information or joined as a member at ICFF alone!

Couldn’t visit our booth? Here’s what went on at the show:

Iconic designs (top) against visitor-branded copies (bottom).

Attendees had the opportunity to brand the copies with their thoughts on knockoffs. Emotions ran high as writing across the knockoffs displayed powerful thoughts and emotions.

Be Original Americas staff wearing shirts designed by iconic industry members, available with a donation to the Kickstarter campaign. More than $3000 was donated during ICFF.

Attendees could donate on-site to the Kickstarter campaign benefiting the 2nd Annual Student Design Fellowship. Rewards included the above pins and t-shirts, designed by Harry Allen, Bruce Mau, Georgie Stout, Paula Scher, and Luke Hayman.

Booth visitors supporting the 2nd Annual Student Design Fellowship.


Thank you to all who visited our booth at ICFF! Stay up to date with the latest news from Be Original Americas by following us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Images by Federica Carlet.


Members at NYCxDESIGN 2017

Will you be in New York City for NYCxDesign? Don’t miss Be Original Americas members and media sponsors. See below for a guide to exhibitions and events and where to find them.

Wanted Design Manhattan:
Terminal Stores
271 11th Ave

Bend Goods
Ligne Roset (Wanted Interiors Lounge at WantedDesign Manhattan, designed by Pratt Students in collaboration with Rockwell Group)
Fontana Arte


Wanted Design Brooklyn:
Industry City
220 36th St, Brooklyn NY

Egg Collective
Flavor Paper


Javits Center
655 W 34th St

AJK Design Studio: Booth #173
ANNA by RabLabs: Booth #1907
Artifort: Booth #1613
Bend Goods: Booth #953
Bernhardt Design: Booth #1319, 1333
Be Original Americas: Booth #1980
Cerno: Booth #853
Chilewich: Booth #1036
Emeco: Booth #1601
Eric Trine Studio: Booth #453
Fantini: Booth #757
Fferrone Design: Booth #332
Flavor Paper: Booth #1563
Fritz Hansen: Booth #733
Heller Incorporated: Booth #619
Koncept, Inc.: Booth #2017
Leland International: Booth #1128
LZF Lamps: Booth #1733
Marset: Booth #1535
Pablo Designs: Booth #833
Phase Design: Booth #2005
Secto Design: Booth #847
Skram Furniture Company: Booth #533
Soho Design District Booth (nanimarquina + FLOS): Booth #2879
WakaNINE: Booth #947


Flavor Paper: Exhibition at Hostler Burrows Gallery, featuring murals created by Flavor Paper.
M-F – 10:00am-6:00pm
51 E 10th St

Egg Collective: Designing Women
Opening Reception: 5/1 – 6:00-9:00pm
Exhibition runs through 5/26
304 Hudson St #307

Alessi: Launch Party of Washington Square by Night Limited Edition | MoreArt + Alessi
5/11 – 6:00-8:00pm
130 Greene St

Chilewich: Design Showroom Cocktail Crawl
5/17 – 6:30-9:30pm
Flatiron District

Be Original Americas: How I Made It…My Way
5/17 – 2:00-3:00pm
WantedDesign Brooklyn: 274 36th St Brooklyn, NY

IIDA: Leaders Breakfast 2017 New York
5/18 – 7:30 – 10:30am
583 Park Ave

Herman Miller + Magis: Design Pavillion Presents Magis Through Herman Miller
5/18-5/22 – 10:00am-9:00pm
Times Square – 42nd to 47th Streets between Broadway and 7th Avenue

Tom Dixon + Dezeen: Howard St. Block Party
5/19 – 6:00-9:00pm
19 Howard St

Moooi: A Life Extraordinary
5/19 – 6:00-9:00pm
36 E. 31st Street

Design Milk: Celebrate Clever Podcast’s 1-Year Anniversary with Sonos
5/20 – 6:00-9:00pm
101 Greene St

Cassina: ICFF Cocktail Reception
5/20 – 5:00-8:00pm
151 Wooster St

Poltrona Frau: ICFF Cocktail Reception
5/20 – 6:30-8:30pm
145 Wooster St

Blu Dot: Party with Blu Dot in Soho
5/20 – 6:30-9:30pm
140 Wooster Street

Herman Miller: Herman Miller Store Housewarming
5/20 – 11:00-7:00pm
251 Park Avenue South

Design Within Reach: Furnishing Utopia: Shaker Design Influence
5/20 – 5/24 – all day
110 Greene St

FLOS: Arrangements Collection by Michael Anastassiades
5/20 – 6:00-8:00pm (Opening Night Party)
152 Greene St

Ligne Roset: 2LG x Custhom Exhibition Kickoff
5/20 – 6:00-8:00pm
155 Wooster St

Vitra + Nanimarquina: Vitra Bash
5/21 – 6:00-9:00pm
100 Gansevoort

Bernhardt Design: The Creatives: Coloring Outside the Lines
5/21 – 2pm
ICFF: 11th Avenue at 38th Street

Design Within Reach + Design Milk: From Launch Pad to Market: A Discussion with Designer Elish Warlop
5/21 – 12:00-1:00pm
Launch Pad Gallery at WantedDesign: 269 11th Ave

Alessi, Kartell + Molteni: The New Brand Museums: How Companies Tell Their Stories
5/22 – 2:00-3:00pm
Conversation Room at WantedDesign Manhattan: 269 11th Ave

Fantini: Opening Night at the A&D Building
5/22 – 6:00-9:00pm
150 E. 58th St

Alessi: Showroom Cocktail Event
5/22 – 6:00-8:00pm
130 Greene St

Ligne Roset: Showroom Cocktail Event
5/22 – 6:00-8:00pm
155 Wooster St

Soho Design District Night
5/22: 6:00-9:00pm

Artemide: 46 Greene St
Blu Dot: 140 Wooster St
Cappellini: 152 Wooster St
Cassina: 151 Wooster St
FLOS: 152 Greene St
FontanaArte: 45 Greene St
Republic of Fritz Hansen: 22 Wooster St
Gandia Blasco: 52 Greene St
Kartell: 39 Greene St
Luceplan: 14 Wooster St
nanimarquina: 588 Broadway, Suite 607
Poltrona Frau: 145 Wooster St

Herman Miller + Metropolis Magazine: Designing for Movement
5/23 – 2:00-3:00pm
Conversation Room at WantedDesign Manhattan: 269 11th Ave

Interior Design Magazine: Crafting Technology: Handmade and Machine-made in Design Today
5/23: 12:00-1:00pm
Conversation Room at WantedDesign Manhattan: 269 11th Ave


Let us know your favorite events and exhibits and what you’re up to around New York City by tagging us on Twitter and Instagram @BeOriginalUSA!

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.