As we're discovering (and hopefully already knew) from the latest installment of True I.D. Stories, stealing designs is a nerve-wrecking and inexcusable act for all parties involved. Despite the guilt that comes with the crime, it happens far more often than anyone would like to admit. Be Original Americas, an organization committed to raising awareness and initiating discussion on the importance of preserving original design, is taking a step toward raiding awareness on the sore subject. As of this morning, they've announced that they'll be opening up membership to the public. Companies, individuals, arts and educational institutions are invited to join the movement in recognizing the value of original design by participating in events, lectures and other original design focused happenings.
Membership levels will be available in three different options: members, affiliates and individuals. You can read more about the different memberships on the organization's website.
Be Original and Berhardt Design President (and Design Gatekeeper) Jerry Helling shares some words on what being a part of the organization means to him:
Being part of this organization is more rewarding than I had originally imagined in many ways. My initial reaction was that the time had come to take a visible stand against the explosion of design copies and knockoffs that has occurred in the past five years. The practice of stealing designs and ideas has become so common there is almost a tacit approval of the practice. Various companies and ad hoc groups have tried to address this topic in the past, but there has never been a united and sustained effort that has made a significant difference to macro problem.
My first pleasant surprise was the level of commitment and cooperation on the part of the charter members who are all competitors on some level. Working together to advance the belief in the importance of original design, rather than the self interest of the individual members has been a great experience and makes the message more relevant. Another surprise has been how receptive the public and interior designers have been to this topic. They want to learn more and understand how knockoffs effect the economy, environment, public safety and the entire design eco system.
Be Original Americas includes representation from design leaders like Alessi, Artek, Cassina/Poltrona Frau/Cappellini, Emeco, Flos, Fritz Hansen, Herman Miller, Ligne Roset and Vitra. But the list can't stop there. "First and foremost we need other manufacturers, retailers and design firms to join the effort in making this organization a significant voice to make a real difference," Helling says. "Therefore, I truly want to encourage other companies and organizations who share these beliefs to be an active part of Be Original. I believe it's quite common that the acceptance of any idea takes time and trickles down—and this is not an exception. We will have followers in the public who are closest to this topic and eventually more and more people will become supporters."
For more information on the organization and their mission, visit their website.