Valuing Original Design: From Inception to Installation

Guest blog by Original BTC

Investment in original design means investing in the designers and the process that creates it, acknowledging that creative and cultural innovation is not always straightforward, and that developing a coherent concept can sometimes take months or even years. This may be particularly draining on time and resources, requiring complex problem-solving and acute attention to detail.

Commitment to original design is needed from those outside the generative and manufacturing processes, too. When consumers choose to buy original pieces, they give designers credit where it is due. Their investment provides financial remuneration not just to the company producing the designs, but enables that company to support artists and sustain time-honored traditions. Of course, a buyer should also enjoy and cherish the products that they purchase, and by investing in authentic designs they get a sense of pride and satisfaction every time the piece is seen or used. This meaningful relationship helps to build a positive environment, whether in the home or in a public space where a designer crafts an experience of place for other inhabitants. For trade professionals, this uncompromising approach can set your work apart.

Handblown glass at Original BTC

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The Originals: Nani Marquina

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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

Breaking News: U.S. Customs & Border Protection

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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 iprr.cbp.gov.

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)

Profiling the Masters: Alvar Aalto

Recognized today as one of the great masters of architecture, Alvar Aalto’s influence on design is undeniable.

Photo: Eino Mäkinen, Alvar Aalto Museum.

Photo: Eino Mäkinen, Alvar Aalto Museum.

His architecture is uniquely Finnish, and distinctive for its strong relationship to nature, emphasis on function, and attention to detail.

Finnish Pavilion, 1939 World's Fair, designed by Alvar Aalto. Gelatin silver print. Carnegie Museum of Art, Purchase: gift of the Drue Heinz Trust. Image courtesy of Carnegie Museum of Art, copyright Ezra Stoller/Esto, Yossi Milo Gallery.

Finnish Pavilion, 1939 World’s Fair, designed by Alvar Aalto. Gelatin silver print. Carnegie Museum of Art, Purchase: gift of the Drue Heinz Trust. Image courtesy of Carnegie Museum of Art, copyright Ezra Stoller/Esto, Yossi Milo Gallery.

Aalto began to think of furnishings as a natural extension to his architecture.  In fact, his first pieces of furniture were created in 1931-32 for the Tuberculosis Sanatorium in Paimio, Finland.

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Paimio Sanatorium in Finland

Not only was the architecture of the sanatorium optimized to provide ample sun and fresh air – the only then-known cure for tuberculosis – but its furniture was designed be an instrument of healing as well.  The Paimio chair, below, was designed at an angle to provide ease of breathing for patients.

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Aalto’s Paimio Chair

Using birch wood native to Finland and a belt wood technique he himself pioneered, Aalto created iconic products from the stacking Stool 60 to the Armchair 400.  Many of his designs continue to be produced by Artek, a company he co-founded.

Armchair 400 and Stool 60, both designed by Alvar Aalto.

Armchair 400 and Stool 60, both designed by Alvar Aalto.

Aside from his furniture, Aalto designed a staple of modern designed spaces worldwide, the Aalto vase:

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The Aalto Vase

Aalto’s work was well received in the U.S. and the Museum of Modern Art organized an exhibition of his work in 1938.  The influence of his work can be seen throughout time in designers such as Charles and Ray Eames, who also shared a similar spirit for humanistic design.

Learn more about the masters of design here.

Profiling the Masters: Isamu Noguchi

Image Courtesy of Noguchi Museum

Image Courtesy of Noguchi Museum

“Everything is sculpture.” – Isamu Noguchi

As we take a look at design throughout history, no list would not be complete with Isamu Noguchi.

Born in Los Angeles in 1904, the midcentury master is perhaps best known for his eponymous Noguchi Table, a coffee table made of two interlocking curly cues of wood, topped with a triangular glass slab.  First created in 1947, the table continues to be produced by Herman Miller today.

Image Courtesy of Herman Miller

Image Courtesy of Herman Miller

Although hard to believe, Noguchi initially studied pre-med at Columbia.  It was during evening sculpture classes on New York’s Lower East Side that Noguchi found his true calling.

Noguchi traveled extensively, maintaining studios in Japan and New York City, and completing large scale works in Mexico.

A political mural created in Mexico, 1936.

A political mural created in Mexico, 1936. Image courtesy Noguchi Museum.

With work ranging from sculpture to set design to ceramics to furniture and lighting, Noguchi was never one to limit his work to any single discipline.  Over his lifetime, Noguchi collaborated with choreographers Martha Graham and Merce Cunningham, composer John Cage, and even muralist Diego Rivera.

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Noguchi’s set design for Martha Graham’s Herodiade

Today, people flock to the Noguchi Museum in Long Island City, New York.  Established by the artist himself, the space includes a serene outdoor sculpture garden and galleries full of his work.

Noguchi Museum

What is your favorite work of Noguchi’s?

 

Profiling the Masters: Arne Jacobsen

Arne Jacobsen Portrait

Did you know Arne Jacobsen trained as a mason before studying at the Royal Danish Academy of Arts in Copenhagen? There, he was influenced by the work of Le Corbusier, Gunnar Asplund, and Mies van der Rohe. Functionality and craftsmanship were key.

According to Design Within Reach, Jacobsen bought a plywood chair designed by Charles Eames and installed it in his own studio as inspiration. While Jacobsen’s famous relationship with Fritz Hansen began back in 1934, it was 1952 that started a domino of successes, such as the Ant Chair:

the Ant Chair

the Series 7:

Series 7 Chair

the Egg:

the Egg Chair

the Swan:

the Swan Chair

As a designer, Jacobsen prototyped for everything from furniture to textiles to silverware. He was an architect too, where work includes the Bellavista housing estate and fully integrated works like the SAS Air Terminal and the Royal Hotel Copenhagen.

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Image via Vancouver Art Gallery

For the Royal Hotel, Jacobsen designed every detail – from the site-specific furniture, the Swan and the Egg, to lighting, cutlery, and even ashtrays.

Arne Jacobsen collection

Room 606 in the SAS Royal Hotel in Copenhagen

His designs, now considered iconic, contribute to Jacobsen’s position as a revered part of design history. Not only is he a part of national Danish heritage, but a formative figure in the way we regard Scandinavian design today. With clean, sculptural lines and an emphasis on functionality and thus durability, Jacobsen’s designs remain as relevant today as ever.

Which of Jacobsen’s design is your favorite?