I’ve been looking and looking and looking for a lovely bench to sit in front of a large bay window of a Scandinavian inspired room, when I spotted this marvel. B-I-N-G-O. It was perfect in size, proportion and style.
I soon realized it was a replica of an original 1950s bench, maker unknown, and so normally preferring original designs, I went back and forth on whether to propose it or not to the client.
Finally I convinced myself and suggested it to the homeowner and called it what it was, never trying to pass one thing for another. And because I could not find a designer for it, it made it easier for me to be more positive on the piece.
The lesson I offer is this: replicas are fine if you pass them on as such AND you really don’t know who the original designer is. In the case of something like an Eames or Jacobsen chair the very least you should do if you’re getting a replica is to make sure it is made by the authorized manufacturer and not some knock-off. The original creator/manufacturer should get compensated for their design just like any design professional should do for their work. By knowingly purchasing a knock-off we are indirectly doing EXACTLY what some clients do to us as designers, which is to devalue our design services as something that pretty much anybody can do and should therefore cost nothing. This re-enforces that common mass media concept that original creativity is not worth paying for and that a copy is just as good.
image credits: CFModern, Stamford, Connecticut. The images are of the original bench used as the prototype to produce the modern versions which can be customized by the company.
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