Are knock-off furniture pieces okay?

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Ryan
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Postby Ryan » Wed Feb 14, 2007 12:59 am

Whiteonwhite not quite up to original quality (the upholstery is never quite as smooth and taut as the high end stuff) but for what they charge it's fine. Their PK wicker chairs are quite well done. Anyway, I would have loved a ball chair when I was a young lad.

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Postby apower » Wed Feb 14, 2007 8:32 am


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Postby valery » Thu Feb 15, 2007 2:27 pm

Since I couldn't afford an original ball chair, I purchased one off of ebay last December. I paid $700 total with shipping and insurance and got it within a couple of days (they used UPS freight, which is basically overnight delivery).
I bought it from this company http://www.zodeco.com/
But I won one of their ebay auctions and got it for way cheaper than their site. They still auction them off for cheaper on ebay, so take a look on here from time to time:
http://myworld.ebay.com/facultybroker
I love it!!! It's so comfortable I could sleep in it!! Once I buy a house, I may get another one. I wish I could afford an original, but I'm too poor. They sell for $6000 http://www.retromodern.com/item_detail.asp?1156.

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Postby ttblair » Thu Feb 15, 2007 5:44 pm


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Postby jazz-n-cocktails » Mon Feb 19, 2007 9:59 am


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Postby jazz-n-cocktails » Mon Feb 19, 2007 10:31 am


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scowsa
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Postby scowsa » Mon Feb 19, 2007 11:03 am

As has been noted, this is an ongoing conversation on this site and others. Nevertheless I'll add my tuppence worth (or maybe its two pounds worth, one you see its length.)

Firstly, the fashion (clothes) world seems to have settled down to its own market-driven norms. So some folks will gladly pay for couture or clearly labeled high-end products and many more will go out and buy copies -- with the latter normally making no claims about their designer. Somehow, I doubt if there are forums where such buyers agonize over buying a copy of Marc Jacobs. Yes, I know there is also a market for falsely labelled knock-offs, but my sense is that's fairly limited as no clothing chain would want to be caught selling them.

Secondly, I always smile when I see Modernica referenced as one of those "high-end" stores, along with DWR. If you look carefully at the Modernica site you will find few references to designersand they are very fond of using the term "Case Study" in describing products and that includes the Eames-type designs. The two exceptions are the Nelson lamps and their use of the "Noguchi Replica" term.

When Domino mag considered such sources, Modernica was classified as selling "Good-Quality Knockoffs." A site that does claim to sell "DISCOUNT AUTHORIZED CLASSICS, AT WHOLESALE PRICES" is and having only recently learnt about them, I am curious if anybody out there has used them.

Lastly, I continue to see references to modernism about being able to mass produce items and make these items affordable. As one who simply came to it by "knowing what I like," I would welcome some references to more about this philosophy and its application to furniture. I know there have been several architects and developers who shared this belief, but beyond the Eames, I have not seen any writing about others in the furniture world.

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Postby bitzala » Mon Feb 19, 2007 11:32 pm

Scowsa-- I don't have any experience with Gibralter, but it looks like an interesting site. I'm still trying to figure out if they're for real or not.

They clearly acknowledge that some of their "classics" are high quality knockoffs, while other pieces are presented as authentic and discounted.

I did catch one place where they seem to be bogus-- their Eames plywood chairs. I'm in the market for more DCWs and bought my first ones at Circa 50 for $579 per chair. What's odd on the Gibralter site is that they sell the DCW for $250, but they sell the DCM chair for more money-- $349, and suggest that it's original price is $550. (On Circa 50, the DCM is only $379.) Also, although they present these chairs as authentic, the wood options are off-base-- instead of white ash, they offer white oak.

I'm still intrigued by a few of their other items, so I'll call them in the morning.

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Postby ttblair » Tue Feb 20, 2007 7:50 am


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Postby bitzala » Wed Feb 21, 2007 6:36 pm

Gibralter certainly does present an incoherent picture, on the web. I spoke with their "President" today. He said that they are a second generation, 50-year-old company.

He said that they carry well-done knock-offs, made in Asia, and very high end, but discounted "knock offs", made by Gordon International in Italy.

I pointed out that they had the wrong "original" price for Eames DCM, and he seemed very confused in response. I asked him why they use "Eames" in their description of their plywood dining chairs, since they are not produced by Herman Miller, the Eames licensee for this chair. He said that Herman Miller is no longer paying money to the Eames estate-- that their status as licensee for this design has technically expired, as the "patent and copywrite only lasted for 50 years". So, while HM was once the true licensee for Eames DCW and DCM. they are no longer entitled to call themselves the "licensee" for this Eames design. He said that their reproduction of this chair is exact, because they are not infringing on any copywrite/patent for the design. (I don't know if any of this is true-- just reporting what he said.)

He said that Herman Miler is still the legit licensee for some mid-mod designs, so if they knock those off, they have to change the dimension slightly, so as not to infringe on their patented design.

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Postby apower » Thu Feb 22, 2007 7:25 am


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Postby MD² » Thu Feb 22, 2007 9:55 am


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Postby scowsa » Thu Feb 22, 2007 12:13 pm

Two further comments, given I posted the Gibraltar link that caused the latest discussion.

1. While the copyright and trademark points may be valid I am not aware of any "knock-off" suppliers being sued using these. Just like in the fashion world, I suspect the high-end suppliers like Knoll and Herman Miller know that most of the knock-off customers will not come to them but there are enough other customers out there that will, and do.
Past articles on these points in a range of mags have pointed out that hardly any furniture design is patented as I believe that regular patent laws require some unique characteristic. For example, I recall reading that the hinge on the Noguchi coffee table does have such a patent.

2. While the Gibraltar folks may have a confusing Web site, if you believe the postings at
they have some very satisfied customers. So next time I am in the market for something, I'll probably be tempted to give them a try.

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Postby apower » Fri Feb 23, 2007 7:39 am

I would like to add that although Architecture is regarded as Fine Art, it can also be considered as Applied Art in a creative and/or abstract context.
And even in certain instances, Furniture (as a sculpural work) can be regarded as Fine Art...
See the quote below for the general subject matter of copyright.
--

I have never dealt with the copyright of a building, but my understanding is that the copyright in a structure is actually limited to blueprints as printed matter. Basically, you could walk down the street, talk a photo of a building, make your own prints of that photo and not be infringing against any copyright. Taking even further, you could draw up your own blueprints to mimic that building as close as possible as long as you never incorporate anything from the actual physical blueprints. The only case that I know of on facts close to this was actually about trademarks and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They claimed that the building itself was the Trademark of the Hall, but they ended up losing to the photographer.

I love the fringes of copyright protection, and I have never read or heard of a case where a piece of furniture was copyrighted as a scupltural work, but that argument is fascinating.

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Postby MD² » Fri Feb 23, 2007 1:37 pm


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Lessons Learned by Charles Engalls and Friends

Postby aly star » Tue Feb 27, 2007 4:23 pm

haha, who knew any of you'd be intrigued by the tribulations of Charles Engalls..

If I recall, he has contracted with a furniture shop owner to sell his pieces on commission, then he starts to notice that another furniture maker is knocking off his pieces and selling them unmarked in bulk. he tracks the maker down and politely explains in his Engalls manner that there must be some confusion. He is told there's no confusion, there is no patent or copyright and poor him, deal with it! And then he gets mad, and turns green and bursts out of his corduroy pants and growls "Hulk ANGRY!"

oh wait.. I'm confusing television shows. To be honest, I don't remember what happens in the end, I think arson. I just know it's a plucky happy luck ending, and the lesson is learned: don't knock off other people's stuff, and don't buy knock offs it perpetuates the cycle.

That said, I'm going to Target to buy me some knock off designer stuff that I don't need. heheheh :evil:
Aly Star
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