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Knock Offs and Copies

November 1, 2010

Recently I met with a very talented writer for a major national newspaper on the subject of knock-offs and copies.  This is always a touchy but topical subject in every industry.  It made me think about this subject in more depth, and especially in light of the state of our industry and the business climate.

Bascially, if your company is high end and a design leader your designs will, hopefully, inspire others.  This inspiration is supposed to lead to those designs being included in design projects.  Customers genuinely feel an emotional attachment to good design, be it product or interior, and that is to some extent the point!  It can be Alessi or Bergamo or Holly Hunt or Bulgari.  Falling in love with great design is visceral, and wonderful!

However, sometimes, this inspiration leads design students to interpret the shapes and colors of new designs in new ways to the benefit of us all, again a worthy outcome of all the effort it takes to create design in the first place. Sometimes a single new design can inspire an entire interior project and bring great joy to both the designer and the client alike.  However, sometimes it also inspires the less scrupulous to use those design ideas that took so long to bring to market and copy them.  That is sad.

Often the excuse is that the new design is overpriced so why not “get it for less”.  Get what exactly?  I know in our case, when called on an inspection of a copy of Donghia (which happens from time to time), we are always dismayed at the poor quality that was trying to be passed off as our brand.  This is true as well for many luxury brands.  So, often, what the client actually gets is in no way what they saw in a showroom, which is too bad.  So at Donghia we are instituing an authenticity program, wherein frames are branded and labeled, case pieces are signed and numbered, decks are branded, and in general the provenance of a fine piece of Donghia is identified and protected.  That way if a customer buys Donghia Furniture they will know they are getting Donghia Furniture.

Another possible reason to copy something is to take a new idea and mass-produce it for retail.  This happens as well, and while it is sad and unfortunate and often on shaky legal grounds, it mostly shows lack of creativity and imagination on the part of the design team of that retail establishment.  That is really the tragedy, because design can only move forward globally when every element of the design process is striving for authentic originality, at least as I see it.

Real designers are artists, be it for interiors or products or systems.  Their talent is wonderful, often amazing, and of irreplaceable value to society.  Fake design, copying if you will, diminishes the entire design universe in my opinion, as in a affront to all legitimate designers who are engaged in the struggle for originality

One Comment leave one →
  1. Laura permalink
    November 2, 2010 8:09 am

    Your big picture view of original design is thoughtful and very insightful. Thank you!

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