The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - Home - - FRONT PAGE - With ed­i­tor Robyn Wil­lis robyn.wil­lis@news.com.au

Orig­i­nal de­sign or an af­ford­able fake?

Dis­cus­sions about the replica fur­ni­ture mar­ket al­ways leave me a lit­tle torn. Hav­ing seen first-hand the crafts­man­ship that goes into an orig­i­nal chair, I’m a big sup­porter of unique in­dus­trial de­sign.

Any­one who has ex­pe­ri­enced the gen­uine ar­ti­cle, whether it is the com­fort of a wo­ven din­ing chair or the smooth op­er­a­tion of a swiv­el­ling oc­ca­sional chair, un­der­stands that “the real thing” has lit­tle con­nec­tion with a cheap, im­ported knock-off.

Speak to peo­ple such as the de­scen­dants of Ray and Charles Eames — de­sign­ers of the of­ten-copied Eames lounge chair and ot­toman — and they will tell you that home­own­ers who buy repli­cas are not get­ting the full ex­pe­ri­ence in­tended and can be left dis­sat­is­fied with the re­sults.

The dif­fi­culty is, most of us don’t have the bud­get to pay the price of a small car for a de­signer lamp, lounge or arm­chair. So should beau­ti­ful de­sign only be avail­able to those with the bank ac­counts to sup­port it?

I’m not con­vinced that is a fair out­come. But there are other op­tions.

If you’re quick, you can grab gen­uine bar­gains at sales which most of the ma­jor de­sign houses throw an­nu­ally.

Seek­ing out new in­dus­trial de­sign­ers is an­other way to get in on the ground floor while sup­port­ing a strug­gling lo­cal ta­lent. De­sign com­pe­ti­tions such as Vivid are a great source of new ta­lent.

The tra­di­tional op­tion is to put aside some of those hard earned dol­lars and buy one piece at a time, which is par­tic­u­larly ef­fec­tive with smaller ob­jects made from glass and ce­ram­ics.

Or, you could buy the replica and en­joy it while it lasts. When you put it out for coun­cil col­lec­tion in a few years time, you can have fun watch­ing the neigh­bours pick­ing over your pile think­ing they’ve found the real thing.

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