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LottaLiving.com • Are knock-off furniture pieces okay?
Page 1 of 2

Are knock-off furniture pieces okay?

Posted: Fri Mar 04, 2005 8:38 pm
by CyclingCoach
Interior Design and a few other design magazines have had ads warning about legal consequences of using knock-offs. The Foundation for Design Integrity has a website www.ffdi.org.

Does anybody find knock-offs unethical? Is there a certain amount of time that a design should be protected?

Posted: Sat Mar 05, 2005 5:20 am
by synthetic space
If you buy a knock-off when an original is still in production, then you're essentially depriving both the designer and the original manufacturer of rightly-deserved income.

Posted: Sat Mar 05, 2005 1:27 pm
by morbank

Posted: Sat Mar 05, 2005 1:49 pm
by SDR

Posted: Mon Mar 07, 2005 9:58 am
by Sienna

What I want is disclosure from both sides

Posted: Mon Mar 07, 2005 10:04 am
by modfan

Posted: Mon Mar 07, 2005 10:40 am
by Joe
There is a big difference between private label branding (like Kenmore) and outright copying. Private label branding is a result of an agreement between manufacturer and retailer. Sears/Kenmore doesn't manufacture anything. It's usually one of the other brands on the floor that produces the specific product with the kenmore brand instead of it's own. Sometimes materials or design will differ. It's used to create an illusion of choice in the marketplace. It's gives the consumer a "good, better, best" option to choose from.

Now, if Herman Miller or any other manufacturer who has legal rights to a design has an agreement with another manufacturer to produce something, I would not consider it a "rip-off".

In many cases, it's impossible to know who has agreements with whom. Since we live in sue-happy times, I would guess that many copied pieces in the marketplace have some sort of agreement with the company who owns the rights. If not, they wouldn't exist. If there is an agreement in place, any legal, moral, ethical questions by the consumer should be disregarded.

Posted: Mon Mar 07, 2005 12:55 pm
by morbank

Posted: Mon Mar 07, 2005 1:20 pm
by SDR

Posted: Thu Mar 10, 2005 1:29 pm
by jeffgent
There is a big demand for "affordable" modern designs. It's just a shame that furniture that was originally designed "for the masses" is now too expensive for most middle class consumers.

Posted: Thu Mar 10, 2005 1:41 pm
by SDR

Posted: Thu Mar 10, 2005 1:55 pm
by Joe

Posted: Thu Mar 10, 2005 2:02 pm
by SDR

Posted: Fri Mar 11, 2005 11:45 am
by SDR
The "usefull (sic) websites for unlicensed reproductions" thread has re-surfaced, over at DesignAddict.

More disparate opinions on this timeless topic. Go figure. . .

Knock yourselves out! SDR

www.designaddict.com >forum

(This site is hosted by Patrick and Alix, furniture collectors. Have no idea where they are located, but suspect Europe. . .)

Posted: Sat Mar 12, 2005 3:39 am
by synthetic space

Posted: Sat Mar 12, 2005 9:24 am
by SDR
Thanks, S S -- Check out that wonderful house, everybody.

There have been some lively and intense discussions, over there. Interesting bunch of people, for sure!

SDR :cheers:

Posted: Sat Mar 12, 2005 9:29 am
by moderns-r-us
That is a cool house!

Posted: Sat Mar 12, 2005 9:38 am
by SDR
Oversized "soft" bricks like those are used in the Southwest. Or is that stone?

I like the glass inserted between the beams as they cross over the end-walls -- one of those details that you really notice, "in the flesh."

I designed a deck that was built of meranti 1 x 6 -- like a hard, dark mahogany. (If you use it, be sure to seal the cut ends promptly!)

SDR

Posted: Sat Mar 12, 2005 9:48 am
by SDR
They're still at it. See current thread "Who repairs G. Nelson bubble lamps?"

Actually, check it out. Close to definitive discussion of design rights, etc. . .

SDR

Posted: Sat Mar 12, 2005 12:51 pm
by SDR
So, to answer the question posed in this thread: I'd say the answer is a broadly-qualified "yes."

Those who oppose any attempt to reproduce classic modern designs originally manufactured by others, decades ago, are arguing from an indefensible position, it seems, though their instinct -- to defend the originators of these designs -- may be an admirable one.

SDR

Posted: Wed Mar 16, 2005 8:13 pm
by CyclingCoach
The cost of furniture and most consumer goods has come way down. Better efficiencies in production, etc..... Think of color TVs and cell phones. I think most "classics"" are purposely inflated for snob appeal. A $3500 Eames chair and ottoman is more impressive than a $1000 one. If you can purchase a similar quality Barcelona chair and ottoman for $1500 why pay more for the "certified" manufacturers version. If the designer were alive it would be different. But if the designer has been dead for decades I don't know. Shouldn't there be efficiencies for the manufacturer who's been producing it for fifty years?
If good design is going to be so expensive people will never embrace it. The Ikea threads are mixed in how people respond to cheap modern design, granted some pieces are shoddy. I don't think good design has to have exclusivity. Many of here live in mid-Century ranches that many people buying Barcelona chairs wouldn't be caught dead in. There are probably more authentic pieces in McMansions than the many cool ranches many of us own.
My take on a part of modernism was to be able to mass produce items and make these items affordable. The machine age and all that.
Bauhaus lamps, mid-Century lighting and furniture is ridiculoulsy expensive now. So if you want to feed your kids you go to Ikea.
I worked in the mid to high end furniture business at one time. The mark-up is obscene. If it cost us $1000 wholesale we'd mark it up to $3500. I don't know what the margins are on these classics but they are definitely overpriced. If you can import a good quality copy from Italy and sell it at a third the price something is wrong.
My problem is I'm an idealist who believes in many of the writings of designers and architects of the modern movement.

Design out of reach

Posted: Thu Mar 17, 2005 8:53 am
by Chimay
Well, I know first hand that building or restoring a modern home costs a lot more than building "tract home pseudo-colonial/tuscan/spanish/cape cod/french country chateau", because of small production runs of modern materials, but most because there's nowhere to hide the mistakes and the slop. But I don't agree that this necessarily applies to furniture

I tend to agree with Michael here. I have both original, licensed MCM furniture and knock-offs in my house (and more than a smattering of IKEA, which in many instances, counts as original, licensed furniture!). And you'd be hard-pressed to tell the difference, even with a trained eye. Quality can be at least as good in many cases. In a case where it's a piece that has long since fallen into the public domain (like the pavilion chair), I have no qualms about buying a quality knock-off.

Demand, limited production, and snob appeal have all conspired to keep prices for modern furniture ridiculously high. I know that mark-ups in the mid to high-end furniture industry are some of the highest, across the board. But IKEA, Club 8, and a few others have proven that it doesn't have to be that way.

When I see companies like Modernica selling Eames shell chairs for hundreds of dollars (we had them by the thousands growing up in my elementary school because they were affordable!), it makes me cringe.

Incidentally, we pay a lot more for modern furniture in the States than our European cousins for the same things. A piece sold by Kartell, Vitra, Ligne Roset, etc. here will typically cost more than twice the price that it costs in France. The Maly bed is almost three times as much here. And don't tell me the difference is in shipping or the weak dollar.

Posted: Thu Mar 17, 2005 10:06 am
by SDR
Sounds a little -- or a lot -- like the pharmaceutical pricing issue, US vs Canada. Interesting comment on "what the traffic will bear"?

I hate to be the one to point it out, but the chief beneficiaries of higher prices are those who deal in the commodity as brokers, or "middlemen," whether in real estate or other commodities -- the actual product or property is not intrinsically -- tangibly -- worth any more; it is simply sold at a higher price. In the case of manufactured goods, the cost of manufacture doesn't change, and in the case of the Pavilion (ie, Barcelona) Chair, there are so many competitors in the market that each manufacturer is forced to keep his price as low as possible, if he wants to stay in business.

As usual, the "Tiffany" and "Cartier" end of any particular trade is where the highest profits are realized.

SDR

Posted: Mon Feb 12, 2007 7:40 pm
by bitzala
Hello-- I'm reviving an old thread on furniture reproductions.

Ordinarily I'd prefer to buy the real deal, but I'm now considering a knock-off for my 3rd grade son's bedroom. He needs a comfortable reading chair, and he really likes the ball chair. We're not willing to spend $4K on a chair that's more of a novelty to him than anything else.

Even the knock-offs are high, but I'm willing to consider them-- we've seen from $1000 to $1500 for the "ball" chair.

Just wondering-- has anyone ever bought from Modern Reproductions? They are based in the UK and their stuff looks decent on the web.
https://www.modernreproductions.com/home.php?cat=3

Thanks,

bitz

Posted: Tue Feb 13, 2007 12:59 am
by Ryan
while I hate unfaithful reproductions and strive to buy originals when I can, I think the case of an 8-year-olds room allows for some flexibility. Whiteonwhite sells a ball chair for $600, may be the same repro you see elsewhere.

Posted: Tue Feb 13, 2007 9:28 am
by bitzala
Ryan-- thank you! The white on white chair "ball" chair is even better than the one we were looking at, because it's $400 less. My son is going to love it.

Posted: Tue Feb 13, 2007 9:52 am
by ttblair
If possible, look at one first hand before purchasing.

Don't know about the ball chairs, but I have a pair of Aarnio Bubble chairs, & there is a WORLD of difference between them and the knockoffs.
Mine are smoothe & clear- where the knockoffs I've seen up close were wavy/warbly (I think these were the InMod ones). Ball chairs might be a bit easier to reproduce with the solid colors, though.

The knockoffs may be cheap compared to an original- but can be expensive for what you actually get.

Be aware that many sellers (particularly on Ebay) use photos of the genuine article to sell their wares- often using the classic pics of Aarnio's kids in them.

Also, the ball chairs are wider than most doors- so before you buy, make sure you can actually get it in the room you need.

Knockeroffers

Posted: Tue Feb 13, 2007 11:00 am
by aly star
I think this subject was best handled in that episode of Little House on the Prarie where Charles' handmade furniture is knocked off by a.....


hahah. I just had to drag the six degrees of charles engalls into it. :D

Posted: Tue Feb 13, 2007 4:44 pm
by SDR
Well, I'm intrigued -- since I never saw an episode of the show. What was this furniture like ? American Colonial, I suppose -- but do tell us latecomers what happens to poor Charles. . .

I love it: online sellers showing photos of a diffferent item than the one they're selling ? THAT's actionable. Calling Judge Judy !

SDR

Posted: Tue Feb 13, 2007 11:45 pm
by bitzala
ttblair-- great tips. Thanks. The whiteonwhite site seems legit... I spoke to them at length this morning. And they are going to send me photos and samples of the material.

Also- thank you for the reminder to make sure the chair can fit through the doorway... most helpful!

aly star-- I'm intrigued too. What happens next?