The Originals: Laura Guido-Clark


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?


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.


The Originals: Kasper Salto

Kaspar Salto



What does “original” mean to you?
If we are talking about a person [original] could be misunderstood as strange or hilarious, but in the context of an object in design, I see it as something interesting. Even if it was a person, I would still consider very positive to be original – as the world of cultures and the Internet makes people more and more alike, thinking the same thoughts everywhere – original is something very valuable I think. New York is so wonderful because of the different cultures and people.


How does drawing inspiration from nature push you towards innovation in your designs?
No matter what your starting point is, I think your design method will predict your outcome. If you start up a design project only being inspired by nature there is a good chance you will end up with a project that is detached from being a fully functional design object. Too much “shaping” without and research and analytical method means that after a few years, the product will end up in the landfill. Design is not art, and art is not design: they are two different ways of working.


How has traditional Danish furniture been influenced by advancements in industrial design?
Danish design has always been influenced by foreign culture. Poul Kjærholm’s lounge chair PK 22 is led out from the Barcelona chair – far from imitation, but refined to be simpler, lighter, more lean in production and overall very pragmatic. The SAS Royal Hotel in Copenhagen by Arne Jacobsen must have been started from admiration of The Lever House in New York, designed 1952 by Skidmore and Owens and Merril. It’s not a copy [of The Lever House] but it has some links to it, and I am sure there are several things that have been improved in the later SAS Royal Hotel since 1955. When I recently created my NAP chair with Fritz Hansen, I looked at the PK9 chair – that has always been one of my favorite chairs. So you can say that a lot of architecture and design through history is built on the shoulders of something prior. “Design is to take something and make it better.”


Danish furniture designer Kasper Salto credits the beginning of his storied career to his design of the Runner chair, spotted in 1997 by Be Original Americas member Fritz Hansen. This marked the beginning of a successful and continued partnership with the company, including such iconic collections as NAP, Ice, and Little Friend. In 2004, Salto founded design company Salto & Sigsgaard with architect Thomas Sigsgaard, specializing in interior, product, and lighting design. Notable projects include winning a prestigious 2011 competition, allowing them to design new furniture for the Trusteeship Council Chamber at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. Today, the room is considered one of the three greatest Danish architectural masterpieces outside Denmark. Learn more at

The Originals: Marc Thorpe



What does original design mean to you?
Honesty from concept through completion.


You have taught at Pratt, Parsons and others. What do you is the most important lesson you would want to impart to students with regard to authenticity in design?
Always be yourself.


You design for so many companies from Bernhardt Design to Target. How do you make sure your original design is honored and never compromised?
With any good relationship there is always compromise. Architecture and design are collaborative. A true collaboration will produce an honest product.


Known internationally for his innovative work, architect and industrial designer Marc Thorpe has collaborated with Be Original Americas members Bernhardt Design and Ligne Roset, as well as such brands as Under Armour, Mercedes Benz, Stella Artois, Coca Cola, L’Oreal and more.  In 2005, he founded Marc Thorpe Design.  The studio works closely with clients and collaborators, and their portfolio includes progressive architecture, interior design, digital media, graphic design, furniture design, product design, retail and exhibit design.  Learn more at

Be Original Americas’ Summer Fellowship: Looking Forward

Photo Jul 14, 11 05 50 AM_Alexander Kusak

As rigorous research and experimentation lead to better, original design, Be Original Americas believes that a hands-on, immersive design education can lead to a well-rounded designer. The Be Original Americas Summer Fellowship program was created to offer just that opportunity: real-world experience to support an informed and creative start to a career in design. As the first-ever Summer Fellowship draws to a close, we talked with fellows Sarah Ahart of Virginia Tech and Karina Campos of Syracuse University about how their experiences in the program will shape their futures in the industry.


What’s next for you in your senior year at university this fall?

Sarah: I am going to be working this semester to prepare for my thesis in the spring.  This semester is about continuing to figure out who I am as a designer, what my interests are, and expanding my knowledge of the design world.  I want to base my thesis on a current problem for which I can design a meaningful solution.

Karina: Whats next? Well, completing my design thesis! This upcoming year will be full of trials and tribulations, sleepless nights, but also full of moments of success and design inspiration. Although the word “thesis” is a little scary, I am actually excited to get started! I have gotten so many preliminary concepts during the fellowship.


How do you think you’ll approach your schoolwork differently in your final year, as a result of your experiences during this fellowship?

Sarah: Now that I have a much broader understanding of the steps needed to create a final product, I will be able to design in a way that keeps the full process in mind.  Prior to the fellowship, I was designing based on my limited knowledge of industry.  The fellowship has made me aware of the many considerations needed to bring a product to market, as well as all the steps that a product needs to go through before being market ready.  I can now include these elements that I have learned throughout the fellowship in each of my future projects.

Karina: 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. Also to continue being curious and never settle in your design work.


How has your view of your future in the design industry been changed or influenced by the Be Original Americas Fellowship?

Sarah: I realized that there are so many different paths that I can go down once I graduate.  I had an idea of what I wanted to do just based on what I knew existed. Now that I have been exposed to so many different options, I realize there are many more opportunities for me than I had originally thought.  It makes me feel like I can pursue anything that interests me, and that wherever I end up working, I will be able to contribute my own valuable skills .

Karina: 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–especially since we are the future of the industry. We can influence change.  Although there is only slight correlation between school and the real world, that rigidity in school teaches essential basics that come in handy in an office setting, at least from what I saw during the past seven weeks.


What key learning from the fellowship are you most excited to share with your peers?

Sarah: I am most excited to share with them my answer to the previous question.  In school, I feel like a lot of us think that we need to go work for consulting firms and get the traditional ‘industrial design’ job.  Because of that, I see some of my classmates being discouraged when their interests and skills don’t line up with the traditional jobs that we hear about.  I think that it is extremely important for students to know that there are so many different options once they graduate and that our major is extremely flexible, allowing us to fit into many career paths.

Karina: I am looking forward to sharing those mind-blowing moments I experienced, anything from incredible manufacturing processes to how design professionals behave in an office setting.  I think I am going to talk about the more intimate moments I experienced that some students often don’t get while doing a traditional internship.


Based on your experiences this summer, if you were to design a tool for designers, what would it be?

Sarah:  I would design a platform that helps connect schools and students with companies in the industry to do collaborative projects.  I have worked on a few projects with actual clients, and these have been the most successful and beneficial projects in my time at school.  With that said, not everyone gets the chance to work hand in hand with a real company before they graduate, and I think that is a shame.  The knowledge you gain from working with a real client for a real company is invaluable, and I would like to create a way to make that a possibility for everyone.
Karina: It would definitely be a pen, specifically a Pilot BeGreen B2P Gel pen.  Being a tactile person, I naturally love hand-writing. It’s the most reliable way of keeping track of my notes–especially when inspiration strikes and I have to make note of it!  During the fellowship I filled two small notebooks of information, random thoughts, and ideas and my Pilot pen is the best for taking hand-written notes on the go. It allows for smooth writing and for some reason I can always read my chicken scratch, hieroglyphic writing the best with this pen. Of course, this is personal preference (every designer that I know has specific pens for specific purposes) if I am filling out a document or drawing my writing utensil needs change.


Authenticity in design begins with intent. Be Original Americas is committed to creating access to the kinds of design education that foster a creative future for the industry at large. Many thanks to our fellows Sarah and Karina for a successful inaugural year for the Summer Fellowship program, and to our participating members and media sponsors for their support. You can read more about the Fellowship experience on and

The Originals: Harry Allen



What does “original” mean to you?

As a designer I make “original” happen every day. It’s part of my DNA. I am always seeking out new design territory — all of my products must forge new ground aesthetically, conceptually, and/or functionally. Otherwise, why design? Only original design is design.


How can trusting the intelligence of your audience lead to innovation in design?

For me, it’s not about dumbing down a product to fit a current trend, or copying something that has been done. I see it as my duty to lead, not follow, and it’s the best premise for design.  A good design mind is trained to see beyond what is already out in the world. It’s the definition of creativity — to create something new, and that is ultimately what consumers want — to be challenged, to bring great new products into their lives, to have their lives bettered by design. That is where consumer intelligence comes in — they can recognize a winner. Sometimes it takes some time, but if you design a great new product it always gets recognition — because people are basically pretty smart.


How effective is the use of new materials in helping to deter copycats?

I love new materials for all they can bring to a design. Right now I am working on a project with Ecovative, a material company that grows a wood-like product out of mushrooms, Designtex, who have developed a compostable fabric, and E2E who make a soy-based glue. I brought them all together in a new acoustic tile called” Weave” that will be manufactured by Ecovative. It is beautiful, functional, and environmentally sound. In fact, they are completely compostable. So in this case, the design of the product is great, but it is the materials that make it amazing. And I am pretty sure no one will be copying them anytime soon.



Harry Allen is the founder and president of Harry Allen Design. He has designed furniture, lighting, products, and interiors for a wide variety of international clients. His long-standing interests in art, new materials, and systematic design approach have led to some of the most intelligent products and interiors in the world today. Allen’s work is in the permanent collection of Museum of Modern art (NYC), the Brooklyn Museum of art, the Denver Museum of Art, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. His awards include the Brooklyn Museum of Art’s Modernism/Young Designer Award and two Industrial Design Society of America IDEA Awards. 

Focus On: Craftsmanship

Craftsmanship is what makes innovative ideas for authentic designs a reality. The skill of an artisan or a meticulously refined mechanical process incorporate the attention to detail and standard of excellence necessary to create objects that become a part of our lives and deepen our relationship with our environments. Fraudulent products, with their shoddy make and low-grade materials, fail to capture our imaginations with their rough approximation of the aesthetics and functions that make authentic products a success. Craftsmanship is the difference between objects that inspire, and ones that just take up space.

Designers of integrity know that their intended concepts for a new product or solution can only be articulated through the highest standards of materials and manufacture.  This month, we’re featuring some of our members who shared with us their stories of unique manufacturing techniques, material uses, and design practices that showcase the lasting value of authentic design.



SKRAM Collage

Skram Furniture Company emphasizes sustainable practices, authentic materials, and extraordinary workmanship. Their craftsmen utilize a mix of traditional techniques and cutting-edge fabrication processes to meet the highest standards of precision and durability.


Flavor Paper


Brooklyn-based wallpaper company Flavor Paper has mastered the art of large-format hand silk screening. Their diverse portfolio of expertly silk screened and digitally printed designs offer unparalleled customization and creativity to designers.



CERNO collage

Vertically-integrated Cerno makes all of their lighting designs at their own facility in Southern California.Founders Nick Sheridan and Daniel Wacholder are involded in each step of production, which includes both handiwork and modern technology.



NANI Colalge

nanimarquina brings manual production and contemporary design together by researching tools, looms, and craft heritage to achieve harmony between the design concept and finished product. In addition, nanimarquina produces their designs in developing countries to boost local economies and help build a brighter future for those involved in the rug-making process.



EMECO Collage


The iconic Emeco Navy Chair is crafted through a detailed, 77-step process. Recently, the Be Original Americas Summer Fellows visited their facilities in Pennsylvania to get a hands-on look at the famous production – read more at Interior Design.


As our members show, when objects are created with the intention of improving the lives of the end user – and not just cashing in on stolen profit – the manufacturing process features a commitment to sustainable, responsible practices and a high standard for quality control and materials that create true value. Follow us @beoriginalusa for more stories of craftsmanship and inspiration.

Summer Fellowship: Mid-Point Update


Left to Right: Sandy Chilewich, Fellow Karina Campos and Fellow Sarah Ahart at Chilewich in NYC.

We caught up with the Be Original Americas Fellows to hear about their experiences and discoveries halfway through the inaugural Summer Fellowship Program.  Below, they share what it’s like to go behind the scenes at our member companies and dive into hands-on learning that can’t be reproduced in the classroom.

What has been the most surprising thing about your experience so far?

Sarah: The most surprising thing to me so far is how much human touch goes into the manufacturing and assembly of furniture.  I had always assumed that machines are doing a majority of the work, but after viewing some manufacturing facilities, I have learned that is not the case.

Karina: The most surprising thing so far has been the number of times my career path has changed. I’ve started keeping count and I think I am up to 32. Touring these incredible companies has fluctuated my design thinking and opened up design career possibilities I never knew existed!

What have you learned by being on site that you couldn’t have in the classroom?

Sarah: Being on site has showed me how many different people actually work on one product in order to bring it to market. In school there is not usually more than three people working on a team, where in the office each product goes through a bunch of different teams before it is ready to go to production.

Karina:  At school, our projects have an end date, once we turn in that PDF or a final mock of a product – that’s it, you’re done! And seeing real world design professionals working on projects and the communicating between departments shows that it goes beyond just designing, you have to work and collaborate with people who don’t necessarily speak the same “design” language. Projects are ongoing and there is a lot of push and pull among different people.

Has your perception of the day-to-day at a design company changed? If so, how?

Sarah: My perception of design companies has been solidified rather than changed.  I had always assumed that design companies were collaborative, but it was awesome to see first-hand how collaborative they really are. Throughout the entire design process, multiple teams are working hand-in-hand to make sure that the product is successful.

Karina:  Yes! Definitely! After seeing the environments of differently sized companies, there is an overarching theme that there is no theme, not every workspace is the same. Each company outlines its work in a different way that caters to their specific needs and tasks. Some are more rigid and some are loose but what I have observed is that everyone loves their job regardless of the structure because it’s what works best for them.


Fellow Sarah Ahart looks through textile samples at Carnegie.

Fellow Sarah Ahart looks through textile samples at Carnegie.


Based on your experiences so far, how do you think original products stand out from the rest?

Sarah: Original products stand out from replicas in the way that they are manufactured.  There is such a high level of craft and care that goes in to creating every aspect of the original product that is definitely not seen in a fake.  This ensures outstanding quality as well as a product that will last longer and serve its purpose better.

Karina:  As one of my design idols, Charles Eames, stated, “The details are not the details. They make the design.” Original designs stand out with their details. An overall silhouette may present itself with the same visual language, but the details are what set original designs apart. These companies design with integrity, passion and have the goal of the user in mind to deliver satisfying experiences. All things are considered, from joinery techniques to material choices, all to produce a product that is long lasting, beautiful and comfortable.

What are you most excited for next?

Sarah: I am looking forward to continuing to broaden my knowledge of the design world. Every new place I visit, I am exposed to new areas of design that I didn’t even know existed. I am excited to have a larger understanding of all of the directions that this career path can take me.

Karina: A few more weeks of traveling! I’m excited to see new places and design companies that will continue to change my design philosophy. I thought I had a pretty good definition of what it means to be a designer, but every moment on this trip has challenged that pre-established definition–and I like it. There is more room for a re-definition and reconstruction of my design process and goals.


Keep up with the Be Original Americas Fellows week by week on Interior Design to learn more about their experiences at some of the design industry’s most innovative, esteemed, and original companies. You can also follow along @beoriginalusa for updates behind the scenes!

The Originals: Nani Marquina



What does “original” mean to you?

For me, original is something unique. It can be a piece, a product, or a work of art that offers an idea, a new concept that changes what we are accustomed to experiencing.


Has being an entrepreneur encouraged you to take risks in your designs?

In a way, I think that designers have an entrepreneurial essence, as their contributions are novel and contain large doses of imagination, vision and daring. These are just some of the necessary elements it takes to build a business. I was always clear that my goal was to surprise people with my products and to achieve this it has been necessary to take risks and break the mold.


How does authentic design support ethical business and social responsibility?

Design is unquestionably a factor in social transformation. One of the primary goals is to improve the lives of people; I believe that design is increasingly sensitized to ethical and social responsibility. In our case, our products are 100% emotional design that presents an additional intangible value. We are committed to surprising and captivating our clients, passionate about improving the living conditions of the workers involved in the manufacturing process of each rug, paying the utmost attention to the care and maintenance of the environment around us.


True to her design roots, Nani Marquina launched her namesake brand in 1987, a time in which contemporary rugs were non-existent in Spain. After studying industrial design at the Escuela Massana of Barcelona, Nani launched nanimarquina, a brand dedicated to the design, creation, and distribution of rugs and textile products for the home, based on values such as observation, innovation, and enthusiasm, with the goal to use traditional craftsmanship and techniques to create contemporary pieces. In 1993, Nani Marquina  moved manufacturing facilities to the north of India. to further incorporate o craftsmanship and tradition as a new design concept and consolidate the brand. Throughout the years, the brand has garnered numerous awards such as the National Design Award and the Premi Cambra a la Gestió Empresarial (Chamber Award for Design Management) in 2005, as well as several nominations for the Príncipe Felipe Award for Company Excellence. Nani Marquina has also recently received the International Women’s Entrepreneurial Challenge Award from the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, a personal achievement that led to the 2007 FIDEM Award for Entrepreneurial Woman of the Year. She has enjoyed tenure as the Chairwoman of ADP (Professional Design Association), and of Red (Reunión Empresas de Diseño). Starting in 2014, Nani Marquina is the President of the FAD, (Foment de les Arts i Disseny), in Barcelona.

Breaking News: U.S. Customs & Border Protection

BEOA_Customs_picture_June 2016_crop1
Be Original Americas Meets with U.S. Customs & Border Protection and U.S. Department of Homeland Security on Protecting Original Design

On June 15, 2016, two representatives from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection office and a special agent from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security gave a 60 minute in-depth presentation to Be Original Americas board members in Chicago, during NeoCon, one of the most recognized trade shows for commercial design and business trends.

Highlights from the presentation include:

  • Designs may be legally protected through U.S. federally registered trademarks, copyrights, and/or patents.
  • Trademarks and copyrights registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office or U.S. Copyright Office can be recorded with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to maximize their protection at the border.
  • CBP is authorized to detain and/or seize imported merchandise that infringes recorded rights.
  • Recordation is effective for the term of registration or remaining period up to ten years. Right holders may electronically file IPR recordation applications at

Since the meeting, U.S. Customs has been in contact with many Be Original Americas members.  This August, U.S. Customs officers in the New York metro area will meet with 7 member companies to learn more about their original designs and help stem the stream of counterfeit furnishings into the United States.

“This marks an important step in Be Original Americas’ short history. Meeting with U.S. Customs and Border Protection recognizes the strength of our organization and gives our members the tools for legally protecting their authentic designs and brand integrity,” said Sam Grawe, President of Be Original Americas and Global Brand Director for Herman Miller. “We encourage our members to register their trademarks and copyrights so that their designs can be protected.”

Stay tuned for more news on this in the future.


Pictured: Be Original Americas board members Federico Materazzi (Poltrona Frau Group), Antoine Roset (Ligne Roset), Cliff Goldman (Carnegie Fabrics), and John Edelman (Design Within Reach)