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.