What do you think of knock offs?

I hope everyone had a fantastic weekend - especially if it was a long one! I'm logging more hours than usual at my day job this week (and it's only Tuesday!), but I wanted to share a couple of purchases I made for the nursery over the weekend.

I can't wait to show you the vintage globe I found - it's so cute!

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I decided to purchase an Eames-style rocker rather than the real thing. For me, it was a matter of cost, since my husband and I don't see eye-to-eye on the value of style (he's more of a function kind of guy).

Almost immediately after placing my order, I came across this article about the real cost of replicas. My husband is a musician, so we understand first-hand the importance of paying for original, authentic work, whether it be music, art, literature or furnishings. I agree that authentic designs are investment pieces, and if I'm prepared to spend $500 on an iPad, why wouldn't I spend $500 on a chair that will last much, much longer?

But let's be honest, I don't actually have $1,000 to spend on an iPad and a chair (at least not $1,000 that wouldn't arguably be better spent in a variety of other ways), and I'm not sure that I want or need all my furniture to last for generations. The article calls it a "disposable attitude", but I'd argue that people's tastes and needs also change over time. Knock offs and replicas are one way to enjoy an athestic without committing to it for the longhaul. Is that always a bad thing?

And, is buying a knock-off Eames (the original designers passed away decades ago) the same thing as buying a replica of a piece designed by someone who's still in business? I have a feeling I don't know enough about how the design industry works to answer this question and my experience with small business tells me that people's perceptions are often very different from reality (in other words, just because a business sells an expensive product, it doesn't mean the business owner is swimming in profits).

I can argue in circles with myself on the issue, but I think what really rubbed me the wrong way about this article was the message that if you can't afford the original, you should go without (they advocate buying original designs in your price range instead). Which implies that some styles and asthetics should only be enjoyed by certain economic classes. Regardless of whether you'd prefer an original, knock offs and replicas make high style accessible. Could it be that's exactly what some people don't like about them?

I would love to hear your thoughts on the issue. Where do you stand on the knock off debate?


  1. I for one love that rocker and have even thought about using it in our future (one day, down the line) nursery, so style wise, great choice. As for knock-offs, I'd say you just have to find that balance between supporting local talent and living in a stylish home you can afford. To say you should go without because that original piece is out of your price range is a little extreme. YOU live in your house and it should be a place you love coming home to.

  2. I say go for knock offs. I don't want to pay and have to commit to loving it for the long haul! My taste changes much too quickly!

  3. TheLittleBlackDoorMay 29, 2012 at 1:02 PM

    I totally agree with you Amelia. That article rubbed me the wrong way as well. Of course who wouldn't want originals if/when possible. But a budget, which is something that should be encouraged and praises, should not prevent you from enjoying things you love.

  4. I'm looking at some Eames knockoffs for our nursery, too. I am completely behind the original art movement (and the local movement and the organic movement) but it can be very expensive. I'm all for doing my best to support original art and local business, but I don't think it makes sense to go broke doing so. I also don't think that people who can't afford expensive original designs should be deprived of a style or design that they love just because they're not wealthy. What if the Eames rocker is uncomfortable to nurse in? Or my baby doesn't like it? Or my husband doesn't like it (this is the most likely scenario). I'd be out $500 for a chair I can't really use, given our limited and already cluttered living space. I'd much rather start with a cheaper version and see how it works out. If I absolutely LOOOVE the chair (and who knows if I will even still like it in ten years, like you mentioned), then I would consider splurging on an original. But I see nothing wrong with test driving a cheaper model first.
    Which knockoff did you end up with?

  5. Hi, Amelia!
    I'm a big fan of Ray & Charles Eames and I would point something that this article is missing: the Eames (as many other designers of their time) wanted to design simple and comfortable furniture to be mass-produced at affordable prices. Eames mantra was "LOW COST & HIGH QUALITY" because they wanted ordinary people could afford their designs. Their democratic idea about design and its social utility brougth them to experiment with materials considered too "cheap & low" for furniture like plywood and plastic! (though they designed sometimes very expensive pieces like their Long Chair).

    But it seems their spirit was lost after their death, and now their original furniture is only for wealthy people. Not what they intended, and I'm not sure about what would they say...
    And very often I wonder if these $3500 for a small piece of furniture is a "real price" or you are paying a 300% more because of the brand. Not low cost & high quality, indeed.

    Should I remark this article has pushed me to the Dark Side? :-P

  6. Really interesting point about the original intent of the designers. I definitely think part of the appeal of luxury brands is the status that comes with owning them, precisely because not everyone can afford them. So, depending on the product, part of the price has to do with how it's made and what materials are used, and part of the price has to do with paying for the brand.

  7. Very good points! I went with a company in BC - I'll share more when I receive the chair in terms of quality and my experience with the company :)

  8. I do agree with you. I want the originals but it makes no sense to go broke doing it! Good conversation.

  9. Hi Amelia,
    Would you mind sharing the company and what you think of the chair so far? I'm in Fredericton and am also on the hunt. I haven't found very good options thus far. Thanks!!

  10. Hi Natalie - my apologies for being so slow with my follow-up post! The company is called Wire Home Furnishings Ltd. (www.wirehome.ca) and so far I'm very happy with the chair! It shipped right away and arrived within days of my purchase (from BC to NS). The quality seems pretty good - it feels sturdy and rocks smoothly, and we'll see how it holds up over time/with more use. Hope this helps and let me know if you have any other questions!

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