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.
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.
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.