Lately, I've been seeing more not-so-bad knock offs of some classic designs. This is not to say that I prefer these to the real thing or that I that I think they're the same quality (they are usually NOT), but from the perspective of someone who often has a tight budget, I DO think that there's a place for the well done copy, especially when it's a classic design and the price points are so radically different...
That said, I have to point out that you are definitely dealing with a semi-skeezy crowd when you are dealing with knock offs, and it really helps to know the difference, and you should also beware of anyone who claims it's the real thing. I found this forum really helpful at DesignAddict, and this quote as well:
"The differences are easy to spot. The knock offs all have screws and bolts showing on the outside...I've looked at a lot of other knock offs of various iconic pieces and I've found that the differences are mostly very obvious once you know what to look for. A leg will have a different taper, hardware will show, proportions will be different, upholstery details will differ..." ~ Spanky
>> Welcome to the knock off debate with 76 comments from our readers. And here's a great post from Joel & Maria Pirela: Target vs. Designers.
After sending out the above in an email last week, one reader wrote in and said:
"Your misunderstanding of basic authenticity and integrity bothers me very much. I don't have time for people that rationalize and encourage this kind of behavior."
I realize that writing about this subject may seem confusing and I'm a little sensitive to the criticism, but I think that it's reasonable to be a lover of design and a proponent of quality and still find a place in the world for a much lower priced copy of something you love.
The truth is that buying original, protein furniture is EXPENSIVE and, particularly now, not everyone is fabulously wealthy and can afford everything they want or need. In these cases, I think that it is acceptable to buy a copy of something you love because it's the most you can afford and because it's the BEST you can afford.
And, hey, some of these copies are pretty well made and people have put work into them, so I don't want to look down my nose at them. I am not into getting all snooty about design and authenticity, but I do believe in honesty in sales.
What I think is REALLY bad is lying and passing off a fake as the real thing. That is a crime.
>> Darius Leather Visitor Chair from Target - I first saw this at Alex's in Los Angeles last month and couldn't believe how good it looked. A lighter version of the Eames Soft Pad Management Chair the price difference is roughly $370 compared to $2,200.
>> Eames Style Management Chair from InMod - This is from the online seller, Inmod, which specializes in "highly accurate reproductions." Inmod has a ton more, but I pulled this one as representative. If will run you $525 as opposed to $1,200 for the Eames Aluminum Group Management Chair.
>> Ripple Leather Office Chair from Crate & Barrel - Is this a knock off, or just "inspired by" Eames? Crate's very watered down version of the Aluminum Management Chair costs only $260.
>> Eiffel Bucket Chair from White on White - This online shop is another source of a trove of knock offs that run a fraction of the price, hence their disclaimer: "WHITE FURNITURE'S PRODUCTS ARE NOT MANUFACTURED BY, SPONSORED BY, AFFILIATED WITH, OR ASSOCIATED WITH HERMAN MILLER, CHARLES OR RAY EAMES, KNOLL, FRITZ HANSEN OR OTHER COMPANIES." This Eiffel chair is very similar to the Eames molded plastic side chair, but runs $170 as opposed to $250.
>> The Ames Collection from Sphere Designs - This retailer is based in San Francisco and they have a really corny copycat name for their Eames lookalikes. The Lounge and Ottoman (bottom) goes for $900 as opposed to $3,700 for the real thing.
>> Retro Rocker Arm from Alphaville - These guys seem to be the manufacturers of a lot of these knock offs as they have tons and supply to other shops. The rocker above is pretty identical to the Eames Rocker, but instead of $480 it sells for $345