In Good Company, By Design
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.
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?
It is a question worthy of contemplation, being that our industry is responsible for harnessing so much of the world’s limited natural resources.
I’ve asked myself this question throughout my career, and I’ve come away with one answer. If what we create is done so with a desire to innovate, with an attention to quality, with respect for the materials we use, and with a greater purpose in mind, then we do in fact need more. If we engage in this business simply to make more “stuff,” we clearly do not. As members and supporters of Be Original Americas, we engage in the design process because we do feel accountable. We understand the gravity of our decisions. We understand that we can do better, that the choices we make can lead to the betterment of our customers, our clients, our industry, our environment, and most importantly, ourselves. That is what I believe truly unites us in the fight for original design above all else.
I am convinced that we all choose the hard road, the one that places rigor, quality, authenticity, and environmental stewardship above the low hanging fruit — knock-offs — that we rightfully criticize. I have been incredibly fortunate enough to work with brands that hold these values: Carl Hansen & Son, Ligne Roset, Design Within Reach, Bernhardt Design, Pablo Lighting, Council. It is not random that each of these companies that I gravitate toward are all members of Be Original Americas. These companies don’t sell commodities. They tell stories. They produce culture. They champion our passions as creatives and enthusiasts so the next generation can do the same.
Setting a bar for ourselves and for those around us is a responsibility that we must embrace. There is a reason why we have all chosen to rally around a cause like Be Original Americas, and why we have chosen a path that leads us to the good company of one another. It’s by Design.
Brad Ascalon is the founder & CEO of Brad Ascalon Studio NYC, and is a designer based in New York. Learn more about him here.