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.


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:

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

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

Photo Jun 15, 2 24 27 PM
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

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

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

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

Untitled design (14)

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


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.