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the real issue

I've been having a little internal debate for a while now about how I feel about buying replica furniture.  I was reading an Australian designer's blog recently which brought up the issue in a roundabout way and it made me see it more from a designer's perspective, which was interesting.  The designers work hard to design a piece and it must kill them to see their design replicated.  However there is quite often a huge gap in the price of a replica and the real thing - which is obviously why the former is so tempting. 

I have been tempted many a time to buy a replica Eames shell rocker or armchair.  One, because the replica can be bought in a fibreglass version (which I love) whereas the chairs manufactured under licence have a plastic shell - and Two, because well, they are just more affordable aren't they?  But something always holds me back from buying the replica. 

I don't know if it is because I know the real thing will eventually increase in value, whereas the replica will be worth peanuts.  Or if I would rather pass on to the real thing my children or grandchildren - (how good is Living Edge's 'Pass it on' campaign - it really made me think).  It certainly isn't because of what my family or friends would think because they are not design inclined and wouldn't know the difference anyway. 

Friends of mine have a few Jonathan Adler 'inspired' vases in their home and because I am such a big fan of his work and have some originals myself, it does make me feel a little sad when I see them.  But my friends certainly didn't buy the vases because they wanted a replica of Jonathan Adler's work, they wouldn't have the feintest idea who he is.  They simply bought them because they liked them, and I see nothing wrong with that.  I'm sure that we have all unknowingly bought designer inspired pieces before, whether they be fashion or homewares. 

Magazines feature a lot of replica furniture, and it has never really worried me (just tempted me!).  I can see reasons why they do it - probably so that the furniture they feature is more accessable to the everyday person.  They wouldn't want to alienate the readers by featuring outrageously expensive items in their magazines.  So it comes back to affordability.  Or is it just that we all 'want it now' and don't want to wait and save up for the real thing? 

The only real designer furniture pieces I own are a couple of Grant Featherston dining chairs from the 1950's and I absolutely treasure them. I wouldn't part with them for any amount of money. I know if these were a Featherston knock-off I wouldn't look twice at them. I think the replica furniture these days certainly looks the part and I LOVE the affordability, but I just can't see me cherishing them like I would the original.

I'd love to hear your thoughts, how do you feel about this issue?  Would/do you buy replica furniture and objects and why?  Do you cherish your replica item?  If you don't buy replica, what stops you?  

Image:  ameeliah


  1. my point of view is that it can go either way - personally i lust after original, vintage Eames and Tolix but there's no way in hell I could afford them right now (or for that matter, FIND any decent finds randomly here). At the same time, I don't want to wait until I'm older and can afford these items before I can live in a place that makes me feel comfortable. I have the perfect table that just needs the small Tolix stools, do I wait a decade and hang on to the table and hate my current ikea chairs? i can't decide.

    but eventually, i will upgrade them for the 'real' one, and i that way i think i've come up with my excuse. it's a temporary 'inspiration' until i can afford the real, proper pieces. and i know i have the determination and self control to yes, replace them with the real deal when i'm able.

    i think too, like you said, you can form an emotional connection with the originals - especially if they're older. if i manage to find an old, worn in french-made industrial steel stool i'm going to love it far more than the boxfresh powdercoated one i could get in bulk down the street. and i like the idea of designer pieces as family heirlooms.

    doesnt' mean i can't cheat in the meantime tho!

  2. ryanjames - Thanks for commenting - it is great to read your opinion. I totally agree. I would go the replica Tolix stools for now, you know exactly what you want and if they will make you smile everyday - I say do it! That is what is most important about our own spaces - a haven that makes you happy. And you know you will upgrade when you can afford to :)

  3. I am always tempted by Matt Blatt. I've saved the site as a favourite. But for some reason, I just can't go there emotionally. I also know that I'll be able to find a well-made piece of vintage furniture which might not have the designer look, but certainly has the character that I like. So, I definitely relate to this post.xx


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