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    USC alumnus Jerry Helling has revolutionized Bernhardt Design, one of Americas oldest furniture companies, all while tirelessly working to preserve authentic design. Approaching furniture ideas from fresh perspectives and investing in LA Countys young designers, DIGS gets a snapshot of this visionarys direction.

    originala true Revolutionizing and Nurturing Authentic Furniture DesignWRIT TEN BY JOCLENE DAVEYPHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF BERNHARDT DESIGN

  • 2 DIGS.NET | 2.26.2016

    S ince the onset of his career, Jerry Helling, president and creative director of Bernhardt Design, has elevated the company from a family-run wooden furniture business to an internationally acclaimed design brand with a conscious.

    Celebrating his 25th anniversary with Bernhardt, Helling

    has accomplished much for the future of streamlined

    furniture design.

    Famously known for collaborating and nurturing fierce

    talent from all over the world, Helling has brought under

    Bernhardts umbrella such talents as Ross Lovegrove, who

    designed the famed Go chair, and No Duchaufour-Lawrance,

    designer of the cheeky backless-armless sofa in the brands

    recent Colours collection. With a vast hit list of unique and

    groundbreaking designs from great creatives, Helling shares,

    Theres no particular formula I use to find great designers; I am just attracted to really talented peoplenot necessarily

    furniture designers, either. They are typically photographers, fashion designer, artists,

    or the like. This allows a fresh perspective and approach to design.

    Bernhardt remains a family-owned business, one with

    a history of being lovingly committed to community and

    environmental welfare. Helling himself holds an even deeper

    conviction to maintaining design authenticity and nurturing

    young talent. One initiative dear to his heart is Be Original

    Americas, a program created to educate consumers and

    designers on why we should concern ourselves with original

    design, which is not limited to furniture design or apparel design

    or art, but is an architectural, museum and music issue, as

    well. Helling was the first president of the programoriginally

    a collective idea encompassing 10 different manufacturers

    and designers that addressed compromised designs (aka

    knockoffs), taking the problem from a conversation to

    action. The group offers education through lectures, events

    and teaching young designers one on one. Now on the

    board after years of service, Helling explains, There are

    environmental, performance, and social issues about where

    and how these products are made, and in the end, copying

    a design is stealing. Thus, the Be Original website calls

    designers, decorators, architects, musicians, interior designers

    and anyone in the creative field to join the initiative to protect

    design originality.

    On a similar note, Helling is part of a handful of programs

    for design students and young designers just starting out,

    including Tools for School initiative, Contempto and The

    Carrot Concept in El Salvador, yet his self-proclaimed favorite

    project, ICFF Studio, is based in Los Angeles County at the

    Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. Here, students gain

    professional hands-on experience such as seeing a product

    from conception to completion then through the sales and

    marketing process, and, finally, to retail. Bernhardt Design,

    meanwhile, presents these designs at market, and even pays

    royalties to students for their original work. Every other week

    each fall, Helling actually works in the schools studio, where

    six local LA design students recently won candidacy for the

    Bernhardt ICFF scholarship project.

    Furniture by Bernhardt Design is available locally at

    Twentieth in Los Angeles as well Hive Modern. Outside of

    growing the companys brand, Helling desires to encourage the

    design community to strive for accountability and originality

    to preserve and protect the industry as well as nurture and

    protect talent.

    H O M E

    (previous page) Anne by Ross Lovegrove for Bernhardt Design (this page) Clockwise from top left: Jerry Helling, President and Creative Director for Bernhardt Design; Lilt Chair, Brendan Kim for Bernhardt Design; Item sofa, Patrick Jouin for Bernhardt Design; Brendan Kim, designer for the Lilt Collection; Colours Collection by Noe Duchafour-Lawrance for Bernhardt Design