Monday, August 23, 2010

The Case for Knock-Offs

I find myself in a conundrum.  I love design,  I love designers, I love designer things, but, alas, I the first two of these list are the only ones that I have the means to have around.  I can design and look at design and I can surround myself with other designers, but I can not afford the things I see or those that are produced by the same designers.

So here I am.  Recently I ordered a new chair for my desk.  I had the option of buying something from Target or Ikea (often, both good options), I could buy a real designer chair from Design Within Reach for around $500 or I could buy a knock-off.  In my mind, my knock-off choice was pretty easy.  Room and Board had an Arne Jacobsen Series 7 knock off that was very nice.  They call it the Jake Chair.  This ended up being my final decision.

This is not the only piece of knock-off furniture that I have in my home.  In the living room I have the Eames Lounge knock-off that was in the living room of the house I grew up in.  Outside of that chair being extremely comfortable, it also holds a lot of emotional value to me.  It is actual one of the few objects I own that does have that kind of sentiment attached to it.  Our kitchen also has a handful of knock-off Saarinen Tulip Chairs and a matching table.  

I also have a Hiroshige poster in my room, not a real priceless woodblock print stolen from the Art Institute.  

So what does this all mean?  I often ask my fellow designers what they think of the situation.  They, as I do, often have mixed feelings.  They feel the same want to have beautiful well designed objects in their life, but don't have the money.  Some say it is better to save up to have just one real piece.  Others say buy the knock-off and then someday upgrade (this is my plan).

Knock-offs are essentially stolen ideas.  I do on the other hand differentiate between Knock-off and Replicas.  Replicas actually being copies meant to look exactly the same.  I apologize for not having a more conclusive opinion the the subject.  I just needed to write something about it.

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