Where to Find Original Designs this Holiday

When it comes to the holidays, the mood can go from cheerful to overwhelming from one minute to the next.

What to do?

  1. Bring original design into your home
  2. Support local businesses
  3. Get your loved ones hooked on authentic design!

Giving the gift of original design is a sure way to keep spirits up and show you care. From accessories for festive get-togethers to interior accents to set the mood, here’s where you can find authentic designs this season.

Designs for Gathering

Ready to feast? Sempli creates geometric wine glasses and carafes with a unique sense of balance, while Chilewich’s colorful weaves add a pop of color to the table. Seeking that memorable gift that last a lifetime? Look no further than brands like Alessi and Ligne Roset, who work with whimsical design minds from young to iconic to create unexpected objects and exciting home accessories.

 

Sempli & Alessi

Chilewich & Ligne Roset

 

Know Where to Buy

Stop clicking and start walking! Find a local retailer who knows their way around design. Keep an eye out for stores like these:

They carry high-quality, original pieces, and have knowledgeable staffs who know what makes a design worth investing in.

 

Soft Square

Gabriel Ross

Merry and Bright

Beautiful spaces brighten the mood, and most people don’t know that cheap knockoffs not only harm the integrity of the original design itself, but could contain toxic materials, not last the year, and might be produced in places you’d never want to go!

Skip the cheap and think long-lasting. Bring something special to your space with contemporary lighting designs from FLOS, warm wooden accents from Ethnicraft, or even custom wall grilles from AJK Design Studio.

A company that values original design means they approach their work with making something timeless in mind. All it takes is one look at Design Within Reach’s manufacturer list to find innovative companies like Kartell, Luceplan, Magis, Emeco, Artemide and many more that invest in quality materials made to last.

FLOS & Ethnicraft

Emeco

Magis & Artemide

And we are only skimming the surface. Stay tuned for our Keep It Real series to discover other members who will delight and excite you.

Where do you go to find your favorite original designs? Find inspiration from our members and tell us your story in the comments.

Design in the Era of Trump

What is the future of design in the era of Trump? Watch our panel discussion with industry experts to learn how recent tariffs have been affecting the design industry.

Moderated by Suzanne LaBarre, Design Editor, Fast Company, and hosted at Fuseproject in San Francisco, our panel of experts included:

Collin Burry, Design Director & Principal, Gensler
Laura Guido-Clark, Creative Director & Founder, LGC Design
Ted Boerner, Founder, Ted Boerner Furniture Design
Primo Orpilla, Principal, Studio O+A
Derek Chen, Founder, Council Design

What are your thoughts about how the recent tariffs are affecting the design industry? Let us know in the comments.

Originality, Authenticity, and the Maker Community

Guest blog by Greg Benson, Founder, Loll Designs

As a Maker, I have always had a strong urge to be original. And I know I’m not alone.

It’s really fantastic to be part of the Makers Movement happening right now, and heading up a small design and manufacturing company in Minnesota has been very rewarding. I started making furniture in 2003 as a way to repurpose unused material from our TrueRide skate park ramps, featured in more than 450 municipal parks all over the country. I wasn’t really a skate park designer, but the drive to innovate helped me achieve that success, and gave me the confidence to figure out how to make outdoor furniture, too. My goal was to create a piece unique enough to become known as the “Duluth Chair.” Why do the Adirondack Mountains get to have all the geographical glory? It was, and is, a bold venture – and I meant it to be.

Continue reading “Originality, Authenticity, and the Maker Community” »

#BEOAFellowship Week 8: From Design Students to Designers


In brief, tell us your main takeaways from this summer. What stayed with you? What will you take into your last year of school, and into your future as a designer?

Defne: After visiting so many companies, I was surprised to see how expansive the design industry is. There are companies that specialize in a design field, there are companies that specialize in a design element, there are companies that sell design, promote design, manufacture design or even assemble design! I found it incredible to see how everyone worked with each other and how most products on the market are a collective effort of many different companies and industries. That realization inspired me to combine different industries together in my studies as well. During my last year in college, I would like to specialize in lighting fixtures with a focus on flexible materials. However, I don’t want to just produce a series of products; I would like to consider my project on a holistic level from its manufacturing to its marketing and brand identity. I believe that’s the step I need to take to in order to switch from a design student into a designer.

Janell: Through this fellowship, we got the opportunity to see firsthand the ins and outs of running a business in the design industry. As the fellowship spans over a dozen companies, ranging from a small to large scale and from graphic design to architecture, it was very insightful to compare the challenges between them. One of the biggest takeaways for me was the prevalence of sustainability becoming an industry standard. A common theme throughout the companies was an effort to reduce waste through a made-to-order business model and to ensure durability to eliminate the constant need to replace products. However, Emeco took it a step further by using largely recycled materials — something I hope to explore during my last year of school. Using Emeco’s 80% recycled aluminum and products made of industrial waste as precedents, I will spend my thesis researching accessible ways to turn disposable plastic into a building material.

Congratulations to our fellows on a productive, educational, and inspiring summer with our members! Keep up with Defne and Janell‘s design paths on Instagram and take a closer look at their experiences this summer on our blog

In Good Company, By Design

Guest blog by Brad Ascalon, founder/CEO Brad Ascalon Studio NYC

If you are reading this, you are likely familiar with the mission of Be Original Americas. Furthermore, you likely already agree with what it stands for. Be Original Americas was founded to promote authenticity in design and to fight the multi-billion dollar knock-off underbelly of our industry. It is a group of like-minded individuals and businesses who invest in educating, informing, and influencing on original design, as well as cultivating future generations who will one day take part in our industry. I believe, however, that there is an unspoken camaraderie in this organization, that goes beyond the day-to-day duties.

Sketches of the Atlas table for Design Within Reach

We tend not to talk about the consequences of our individual decisions and responsibilities in our work as designers and makers. We don’t talk about the absolute desire at the end of the day to feel good about our own contributions and the mark we leave behind. We choose to put products into the world, yet we have all heard and entertained the age-old question – do we really need more furniture?

Continue reading “In Good Company, By Design” »

Why every designer needs to care about design integrity

Guest blog by Kenneth P. Baker IIDA, SBID, Assoc. AIA, Assoc. ASID, Assoc. RIBA – Gensler Co-Managing Principal, Southeast Region

The architecture and design industry is fueled by creative, imaginative and innovative people with a deep sense of passion for our work. We get emotionally attached to our projects, and take immense pride when that work is recognized by our clients and our peers in the industry. Gensler decided to become a board member of Be Original Americas because we believe that these elements of our industry’s culture need to be protected, and we need to ensure that every designer is practicing with the highest level of design integrity to ensure a prosperous future for everyone.

PNC Tower, Pittsburgh. Photo: Connie Zhou

Our firm has its own product design practice area, and since we’re putting the time, resources and energy into designing new and innovative products for our clients, we don’t want our products to be reproduced by other manufacturers looking to profit off our hard work. Because we are invested in protecting the power of our own brand, we only use products sourced from their original developer in our projects. We practice what we preach, and we’re trying to elevate the conversation in the industry so other firms can see the value in following suit.

We all love and are inspired by great design, and when we see a product that would be perfect for a client that simply won’t find the budget for it, the temptation to find a cheaper alternative can be overwhelming. The problem is, by failing to respect the work of our peers in the industry we are making it difficult for talented people to invest in the next round of design innovation. That’s not the kind of industry that we want to be, and it’s not the kind of professional that anyone ever aspires to be. So what’s the answer?

Continue reading “Why every designer needs to care about design integrity” »

The Originals: Nani Marquina

Nani2014_HR_crop

 

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. nanimarquina.com

Be Original Americas Design Auction

Bidding has begun in the Be Original Americas Design Auction to support our inaugural Summer Fellowship Program! More than 30 authentic designs including furniture, lighting, tabletop, accessories, and unique experiences are available, all generously donated by members and friends of Be Original Americas. Winning bids will help to fund two students in the first-ever Be Original Americas Summer Design Fellowship as they travel throughout North America to learn from the best and most innovative brands producing authentic design today.

mailchimp

Rare prototypes like an Alessi Bandung teapot by Richard Sapper and special edition designs like Emeco’s Navy Chair collaboration with Coca-Cola are among the line-up of exceptional items. Design icons, like a Vitra Grand Repos lounge chair signed by its designer Antonio Citterio, a Le Corbusier LC1 Chair for Cassina and a FLOS Snoopy lamp by Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni appear beside new masterpieces such as Lara Knutson’s Nebula necklace to complete a varied and accessible range of items. It’s a one-of-a-kind opportunity to take home the best in design while supporting the future of creativity. Explore the auction in full:

BEO1005_AuctionPage_R2-02

June 2014: Be Original Americas at Modern Atlanta

Modern Atlanta came alive – truly – in another standing-room-only event at the Ligne Roset showroom in Atlanta.   With provocative questioning by Susan Szenasy, Publisher and Editor in Chief, Metropolis, the panel of Antoine Roset, EVP, Roset USA Corp., Paolo Cravedi, Managing Director, Alessi and Thom Williams, CEO, ASD, the panel discussed how risks and creativity need to keep “pushing the envelope” and how design education is lacking in teaching the history and ethics for design students.  When queried on “doesn’t authentic design costs more”, the panel cited “pre-owned” and also to buy original design from the mass merchants and young talent – just not the copies!  

Lastly, an audience member said:  ”Buy what something IS not what it PRETENDS TO BE!”