Be Original Americas Worldwide Virtual Student Fellowship 2020: Exceeds Expectations

Global Audience of Students Reaches 3,400+ Registrants

Be Original Americas has had to pivot in a big way. The annual fellowship, now in its 5th year, originally gave two students a five-week opportunity to visit multiple firms in person. This year, clearly this was not possible. Foreseeing a possible pandemic while planning, its Director, Alyssa Young, suggested going virtual. “We could reach more students this way” noted Young, “and even go global!”

The Be Original Americas team took on the task of going digital this year, June 15-July 17, 2020, and contacted its member companies, both manufacturers, as well as architects and designers; 26** design companies, makers, and creators said “Yes!”. Through a series of live webinars followed by a Q&A, each firm got to present to students on an international scale, focusing on a different aspect of the design process and why design authenticity has such intrinsic value.

Contacting universities, students and professors, Be Original Americas team embarked on an aggressive social media campaign, resulting in the fellowship reaching an international audience of:

3,400+ students

.  In over 30 countries spanning five continents*

.  Leading to 10,000+ views to the Be Original Americas website.

We would like to give a tremendous thank you to all the participating companies that made this opportunity possible:

Anglepoise                                                                      Herman Miller from MI

Bend Goods from CA                                                       Kartell from NJ

Bernhardt Design from No. Carolina                              Louis Poulsen from Denmark

Carl Hansen & Son from NY, CA & Denmark                  Magis from Italy

Cerno from CA                                                                 Marcel Wanders Studio from the Netherlands

Designtex from ME                                                          Marset from NY

Emeco from CA                                                                 Maya Romanoff from NY & IL

Fantini from NY & Italy                                                   Modern Metal from CA

Flavor Paper**                                                                   Pablo Designs from CA

Fritz Hansen from Denmark                                             Perigold from various U.S. cities

Gabellini Sheppard from NY                                           Project Color Corps from CA

Gensler from MD                                                             Steelcase/Coalesse/Turnstone from CA

Georg Jensen from NY & Denmark                                  Yellow Goat Design from various U.S. cities

The first worldwide virtual student fellowship could not have been possible without their dedication and commitment to making an impact on the next generation of designers.

The webinar-based program gave students in architecture, design and entrepreneurial studies an inside look into the factories, architecture and design studios, and headquarters of Be Original Americas member companies around the world creating authentic design.

To keep the momentum going and give the students valuable reference information they have access to a private YouTube channel created for them and then on September 1st, 2020, the videos will be released for public viewing, via Be Original Americas’ YouTube channel. As students go back to school remotely during this time and turn to engaging digital programs, we are proud to showcase our successful webinar series on such a broader spectrum, continuing to inspire students.

Our students tuned in from 30+ countries:



















El Salvador


United Kingdom





Peurto Rico

United States





Here’s what some of the participants had to say:

“This first worldwide Be Original Americas virtual fellowship was a huge success. Credit goes to the Be Original Americas team who were willing to pivot to an entirely new opportunity, willing to do it fast, and able to do it superbly. The Be Original Americas Fellowship offered Emeco an incredible opportunity to inspire the future designers of the world. We can future-proof the planet by educating the next generation to design sustainably.” – Gregg Buchbinder, CEO, Emeco

“Knowledge and experiences are made to share. It has been a privilege and honor to have been part of this first worldwide virtual fellowship. Hoping to have given a little inspiration and motivation to all students, which will be the future creatives for the coming years.” – Gabriele Chiave, Creative Director, Marcel Wanders Studio

“I’m appreciative for the opportunity to present to the next generation of creative talent across the world at Be Original Americas’ first virtual fellowship. Although we couldn’t be together in person, the interactive nature of the virtual sessions allowed me to answer questions directly from the students and guide them in their path to pursuing a career in architecture and design.” – Ehren Gaag, Design Director & Principal, Gensler

Here’s what some of the students had to say:

“My experience with the virtual fellowship has been amazing. All the sessions I attended were quite informative and interesting. The behind the scenes of some of the designs were an eye opener for me. I hope that once things get back to normal, in the future you continue doing these virtual sessions so that people like me who aren’t able to attend them physically can do so virtually.” – Tanushri Kadam, Furniture Design Student at CEPT University, India

“My experience with the virtual fellowship has opened my vision of what design is outside of school, it gives me that dose of daily energy to want to know more about design and has been very motivating and inspiring. My favorite part is to see the behind the scenes of working in a studio or design factories. I love the tips designers give us for the new generation of designers.” – Sergio Gabriel Salazar Rodríguez, Industrial Design Student at Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey, Mexico

*North and South America, Australia, Europe, and Asia

**Flavor Paper was unable to present due to an unforeseen occurrence


Be Original Americas is a nonprofit organization that is committed to initiating discussion on the importance and value of preserving original design across the Americas, through informational, educational and influential marketing initiatives and other efforts to promote this critical issue.

Be Original Americas charter members – including Alessi, Bernhardt Design, Design Within Reach, Emeco, Flos, Fritz Hansen, Herman Miller®, Kartell, Ligne Roset, and Vitra, and board members, Carl Hansen & Søn, Georg Jensen, Gensler, and Rottet Studio – believe that the value of authenticity cannot be underestimated or taken for granted in the marketplace. Through an aggressive program of panel discussions and CEU courses, the movement campaigns to establish a set of industry standards that encourages public and professionals, along with our media partners, to fully support creativity and authenticity, to invest in the future of design, to incentivize innovation, and to give back to the industry and the people it serves.