July 18th, 2012

This is a thing that happened.

Months ago Jaime Gillin contacted me about an article she was researching for Dwell concerning designer knockoffs after hearing that I lived with both authentic and knockoff versions of various mid century pieces. During our chat I spewed out some vague ramblings and then promptly forgot about our conversation until a bunch of emails popped up alerting me to my new super elite design insider status on the Dwell Blog. Obviously, ‘design insider’ pretty much sums me up, particularly when wandering around the super elite thrift stores of Hemet (aka the CUTTING EDGE of design).

But hey, it’s true. The owning knockoffs part.

Yes, I somehow live harmoniously with both authentic and knockoff pieces. I mean, I even paired these authentic Eames wire chairs with knockoff dowel bases from Modern Conscience like some sort of design heathen. So anyways, I wasn’t surprised when the articles quoted actual design insiders like Antoine Roset – Ligne Roset, Lindsay Adelman, Benjamin Cherner – Cherner Chair Company, Eames Demetrios – Eames Office director and John Edelman, CEO, DWR who all heavily championed the side of knockoffs = evil! Authentic licensed design = good!

*For clarity’s sake, I might mention that the ‘knockoffs vs. authentic’ debate feels a bit tiredly didactic and generally hits me square in the boring bone.

**Also worth mentioning, surprise surprise, I’m not a cultural or economic critic with a vast expertise or objectivity, but I agree there are merits and failings on both sides of this debate. My experience reflects being a pretty standard consumer and not a museum collection or company that sells designer furniture to the retail public…so…ya.


Anyone notice the one HUGE thing these design insiders have in common? You know, the thing were they all have HUGE financial or personal stakes invested in selling ‘authentic licensed’ design to consumers. So, no one is truly shocked that they’re all against knockoffs (aka those horrible devils of poorly constructed evil which ruin lives and hate puppies or something). It’s almost like asking oil companies if going electric is good. No one actually expects to hear a balanced point of view, right?

Just a few quick thoughts:

+ It’s hard for me to seriously listen to someone in a vastly different tax bracket with obvious conflicts of interest tell everyone ‘to just save up’ and buy a licensed $7,000 Knoll credenza or accept not owning any design pieces they like. At all.

+ I always prefer and recommend buying vintage instead of new production ‘licensed’ designs. Vintage is usually cheaper and built better with better materials.

+ New production ‘licensed’ pieces can tend to be poorly constructed with crappy materials just like many knockoffs. For example, many times I’ve seen licensed Saarinen tulip dining tables with wood tops smashed to reveal their inner Ikea-style cardboard construction at the DWR outlet. Plus, any Eames chair made of molded plastic is bullshit.

+ Mass produced iconic designs originally made to be affordable functional pieces for mid-range consumers now being sold at exorbitant fetish style prices after their designers are long deceased seems disingenuous.

+ New designers being ripped off, I feel you. That is unforgivable. You can’t compete. But BDDW and others of that ilk must get that almost nobody can afford a $50,000 coffee table, plus I’m pretty sure their specific high end buyer niche isn’t destroyed by knockoffs like designers with more moderate pricing.

I’m just as biased and self serving as the rest, but it felt a bit exclusionary and classist to promote the idea that anyone who can’t afford the ‘real licensed thing’ from a few select companies should just give up and only buy furniture from designated stores, you know, for the poor folks. It’s hard to believe that anyone buying knockoffs fools themselves into thinking it will be super valuable in the future or last forever or even cares about those things, but hey, my own knockoffs have held up very well and are just as functional and great to live with as my vintage pieces. Seriously, the few knockoff pieces around the house – like my Womb chair – are much easier to live with than the fancier (aka technically more valuable) vintage pieces. There’s exactly zero anxiety about potential damage or day to day wear screwing those things up, but get some kids or a couple drunks around the few really rare and valuable vintage things I own and the stress becomes truly unbearable. It’s no fun living in a museum.

Can’t anyone at any income level appreciate and aspire to live with designs they enjoy – even if that means supplementing their homes with a few affordable knockoffs? We all need a place to sit, but what do you think about living with or buying knockoffs?


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  1. mijk on 07/18/2012:

    I so get you here….. I do not have the money for very expensivve items but I also have kids and pets…Furniture does not grow in value in my house (the thrifted vintage probably does but four figured new stuff? Not a chance!

  2. Danielle on 07/18/2012:

    Interior Designer, here. I am a “poor folk” and I agree with you, but I’m going to make one little point (and this in NO WAY reflects how I think you do things, Morgan – it’s just an observation I’ve made about the people around me):

    Putting aside the environmental impacts (that is a WHOLE other topic), I find the disposable culture is FAR too prevalent in our society and I see it as being at its most horrifying in the decor industry. People have no patience: they want a fully-furnished, decorated house the minute they walk over the threshold with the deed in hand and the cheaper, the better. Delayed gratification and a lot of forethought is not something I see much of.

    If we valued the idea a piece of furniture can (and SHOULD) literally last longer than our lifetime, we might put more stock in saving up and buying real designer furniture. As it stands, most people – irrespective of how much money they have – couldn’t care less that what they’re buying is a knock-off: they plan to throw it away in 3 years, when it has “gone out of style”. So this conversation does not interest them in the least.

    We need to change that. I’m just not sure exactly how (though I think you are definitely on the right track with your blog).

  3. Danielle on 07/18/2012:

    I should have said that when I speak of “real designer furniture”, I am of course referring to high-quality, well-designed pieces made of durable materials.

  4. THE BRICK HOUSE on 07/18/2012:

    Danielle, I totally agree – the disposable aspect is troubling, but I tend to think of places like Jerome’s, Mor Furniture for Less, Z Gallery and the like as more problematic. Knockoffs of classic designer pieces seems somehow less disposable than trend driven or just bad design. Bad design sticks around for a few short years, but the part of the culture that wants matching bedroom sets or packaged rooms might not be the same folks attracted to modernist design. Places like Modernica, while technically not licensed, remake high quality modern pieces that are in no way disposable. Something about the time tested & iconic nature of certain designs seem to me to give those pieces a longer lifespan than trendy things or slapped together overstuffed sofas.

    I’ve found that I’ll keep knockoffs and will get rid of newer impulse purchase stuff. Most of my knockoffs are actually pretty well made, with the exception of the new dowel bases from Modern Conscience – which I’m not super thrilled about the quality and prefer the ones I’ve purchased on eBay or Modernica in the past.

    Oh, but I dont want to forget about handmade pieces from individual fabricators or designers that feel like the thing to really splurge on. Those kind of pieces hold a special place in my home and I wholeheartedly recommend saving up and collecting a few unique hand built pieces from upcoming or established designers/artisans that are really the sort of quality pieces you can live with forever.

  5. Lila on 07/18/2012:

    I was pretty offended by the snobbery of some of the designers in the article, it actually makes me less interested in purchasing from them if I get to a place in life where that becomes financially viable. I have one lovely Bertoia diamond chair, I have no idea whether it’s a replica or real and while my mother salivates at the idea of it being real frankly I don’t care. I love the chair it’s beautiful and comfortable and my baby can’t trash it that’s pretty much my current criteria for furniture.

  6. Jason Hudson on 07/18/2012:

    Hits you in the boring bone. Genius. I don’t care about anything else but that. And you, just in general. I care a lot about you.

  7. katie on 07/18/2012:

    Love your take on this and I’m glad you spoke out. Totally agree that this is a bit of a zzz subject and only serves to line the pockets of the producers who’ve paid £££s to secure licences to reproduce classic designs. If you love the aesthetics of a piece why not buy a knock off? No harm in a photocopied Picasso; still looks (kind of) as good.

  8. L on 07/18/2012:

    Months of nothing, and now this. It’s all or nothing on your blog, fer sure.

    Y’all have said, really, everything I could say–only better. My most recent purchase was a vintage convertible sofa, probably from the 1920s-30s. It fits my house, it’s made like a brick, and I will probably never replace it unless I move to where it will not fit. All but a couple pieces of my furniture were acquired from family members/friends for little cash, because they needed to get rid of them and I needed them. Most of it I’ve had for more than 30 years, and someday maybe my heirs will be able to make a fortune off it — but I don’t care. That isn’t why I buy/save/get furniture.

    And Morgan & Co. would probably die of chagrin if they could see what I live with.

  9. THE BRICK HOUSE on 07/18/2012:

    I totally respect and believe there is a time and place for licensed well-reproduced licensed designs. I’d love to own a set of cherner chairs, vintage or new, but at about $5K for a set of 6, it just doesn’t seem plausible to me.

    It’s the hamfisted idea that only super pricey ‘licensed’ designs are morally, fiscally and socially acceptable (and that ALL knockoffs are horribly built garbage) feels unreasonable and untrue as well as unattainable for a huge group of folks who prefer modernist design, but can’t find vintage or afford the licensed pieces.

  10. Janet on 07/18/2012:

    I love your take on this. I just read Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion and I’ve been thinking a lot about cheap, disposable clothes, H&M, Zara, etc, which this article seems to reference. But with clothes, there IS a mid-range market: things that are well-made, sometimes indie-designed, but not Bottega Veneta-Valentino-YSL-out-of-reach for the average American. In furniture design, this is much rarer. The knockoffs ARE the mid-range design. I love what you said about fetish objects: these are chairs, people! It’s wonderful when they are beautiful, but they should also be the price of a chair (not $700 per). It’s good to save up and buy something that lasts, but you shouldn’t have to be super rich to do it.

    I have a really beautiful vintage Eames plywood lounge chair. I love it. I also got a great deal on it, like $200 at Coo Coo U here in Buffalo, and that’s the most expensive wooden chair I have (most of our stuff is vintage thrifted or free). Totally worth it, especially because it’s vintage. Charles and Ray Eames were actually alive when it was made. Seems to have more soul than the present productions. You could probably argue that those are reproductions in their own way.

    Hope this made sense. It’s pretty early. 🙂

  11. Mary S. on 07/18/2012:

    Thank you for this article and for teaching me the value of vintage. I started reading your blog a year ago when I was looking to redecorate my home. My home was full of “not-my-style-hand-me-downs” and junk/disposable furniture. Your blog gave a name to the styles that I have always been drawn to but never knew the names of. I now have almost completed my downstairs with vintage, well-made, real wood, beautiful mid-century modern pieces and all were found on Craigslist or in thrift stores. It has taken time and patience but very little money and a lot of fun . I am relieved to know that until I find the perfect vintage couch my knock-off that I adore is “acceptable” according to you-my design guru. thanks!

  12. Yelena on 07/18/2012:

    Morgan, you continue to rock my world. Thanks for the insight and thoughtful discourse.

  13. ModernSauce on 07/18/2012:

    I lust after many pieces of “original” furniture but I lust more (am lustier?) over vacations and retirement plans and other things that make my life fun. An original tulip table is but a small part of that. But I’m poor – *gasp* – so obviously my opinions about design are irrelevant!

    Thanks for this – boring bone or not.

  14. kim on 07/18/2012:

    HA….both my mother and grandmother (who have passed on) collected antiques, went to actions, etc. and always left them in their original condition. This produced 3 side affects. One the house was full of stuff. Two some of it was unusable, etc 1700 dining room set with beautiful ladder back chairs that had seats that needed to be rushed so couldn’t be used. God forbid we destroy the original authenticity of the pieces ( hear the sarcasm). Three now that they have passed on and I am left with all this stuff, no one wants it till it is repaired to perfection and painted white.
    No one wants to live in a museum……that’s why we have museums to visit.

  15. Erin on 07/18/2012:

    Thank you for expanding on this! So well-said. I read the article a few weeks ago, and the lopsided selection of “insider” responses made me uneasy.

  16. marie on 07/18/2012:

    I’m writing this as I sit in my knockoff verner panton chair. I actually have four of them, so I guess my guilt should be quadriplicated… but I’m from Argentina, where the average monthly income is somewhere around the cost of ONE original chair, so I really don’t care. Maybe all of us, the poor people from Third World countries should sit in cardboard boxes and upside turned buckets and daydream of one day owning an original.

  17. Nataliya on 07/18/2012:

    thank you for say what majority of us feel. especially about having kids around expensive original things. As a mom I’ve got enough stress raising a little one. I don’t need my house to stress me on top of that. And I want my kid to have fun.

    Again, thank you for putting it out there. You’re awesome.

  18. Kathryn on 07/18/2012:

    I had the same reaction to this article, of course you want the real thing when you’re the one making it and you have much more disposable income. I have to figure out how to create a home I can live in and enjoy on a budget and knock-offs are a big part of that.

  19. Laura on 07/18/2012:

    I totally hear what you’re saying with all of this. Plastic shell chairs ARE bullshit. There’s no disputing that. On the other hand, as a designer myself…it’s hard to endorse the thought that we should excuse intellectual property theft because it makes things more affordable. I wish these companies that make knockoffs would take their money and use it to create businesses that employ young designers, who can then make things that are actually affordable.

  20. The Vintage Cabin on 07/18/2012:

    For me, knock-offs are mostly a bad thing not because they are ‘stealing’ from the supposed masters, because they scream of desperation of wanting to be in an elite club. I wouldn’t want a knock off Eames lounge chair any more than I’d want a fake Louis Vuitton handbag because in both instances, it’s all about the brand and social status rather than any form or function, etc.

    I think this subject is quite fascinating actually, because it forces us to ask some tough questions about social status and why so many of us feel inadequate because we can’t afford the real deal. To me, knock-offs are just begging to be judged by the rich assholes we all claim to hate but secretly hope to be. Why does the name matter so much to so many, especially the lower to middle class? Why can’t we just embrace Ikea and move on with our lives and go to the beach and eat hamburgers? Why are we all so fucking insecure with just having a really well made no-name table from some chain smoking dirt bag in Syracuse? Why is that not good enough anymore?

  21. The Vintage Cabin on 07/18/2012:

    I agree with Laura 100%!

  22. Mo on 07/18/2012:
  23. Ryan on 07/18/2012:

    “Plus, any Eames chair made of molded plastic is bullshit.” Preach.

  24. THE BRICK HOUSE on 07/18/2012:

    TVC: Well, the big thing that bothers me is the idea that this was and somehow still is design for the elite or rich. I mean, most of those pieces were mass produced amid the culture and ideology of modernism and intended really to be affordable, well designed and functional.

    This was the kind of furniture hospitals, schools, offices and army bases relied on. That’s why its hard for me to buy into the whole elitist thing now. These things are in thrift stores and parents garages, not the same thing really as designer handbags that were intentionally created to be status symbols.

  25. THE BRICK HOUSE on 07/18/2012:

    *Plus no name stuff made by dirt bags or hippies or grandpas or students from bumfuck wherever are really some of my favorite things.

    Anyone who rigidly buys ‘named’ designer pieces is obviously a total bore.

  26. Erin on 07/18/2012:

    I love you, Morgan Satterfield.

  27. The Vintage Cabin on 07/18/2012:

    I totally agree with you and this is why I resent most of this stuff now. I feel like it’s been taken too far and has risen to some sort of Chanel status. This was all mass produced Ikea-ish stuff back in the day and all sold for affordable prices, I get that. But now, it’s been reduced to a name and a status symbol and it’s because of that I can’t look at it in the same way anymore. There is so much potential to go forward in design these days and we’re still stuck reproducing this stuff from cheap plastic and particleboard so we can all have the same look in our homes. That’s the part I find the most depressing.

    I love this post, btw.

  28. The Vintage Cabin on 07/18/2012:

    …and I KNOW you love the fringe freaks who make the crazy shit, don’t get me wrong, that’s why I love you! I’m not specifically addressing you with my initial comment, just the whole idea around why I dislike knock-offs of any kind. Fuck, now I’m on a rant and want to go live in an igloo with just a fork and a spoon and pick my nose for the rest of my life. Fuck this decor shit!

  29. Amen, Morgan, AMEN.

  30. THE BRICK HOUSE on 07/18/2012:

    No, I get it. Trust.

    It’s not like I support buying all knockoffs all the time – that is awful and looks even more awful – and I don’t condone Eames lounger knockoffs for personal reasons (there’s a million other + better chairs), but I do see how a few pieces here and there can be a good option and way more realistic for most people.

  31. audrey on 07/18/2012:

    You are SUCH a breath of fresh air.
    I’m glad someone like you is out there voicing my opinion in a much sassier way than I ever could.

  32. Jessica on 07/18/2012:

    Internet high-five!

  33. annie on 07/18/2012:

    Amen! That’s also my biggest problem with a lot of these “authentic” midcentury designs- they were designed to be mass-produced affordable furniture for the MIDDLE class. Now I don’t know that much about furniture manufacturing, but i tend to feel that either the designs failed in a way and it is not possible to produce them cheaply (um, but Ikea seems to do it alright, and yes, a lot of Ikea’s products are poop, but some hold up well,) or the manufacturers are purposely keeping supply low, and demand (and prices) high. I think it’s the latter that’s true. And for everyone it is not a status symbol thing. If you’re really into design, and you go to architecture school like i did, and study art and design history, you might have a favorite building, or painting or a favorite chair. You appreciate that piece for its beauty, history AND function regardless of its “status.” One day, i hope to own an Eero Saarinen womb chair, because I think it is one of the most beautiful chairs ever designed. I would love to own a “real” one, but if a nice “knock off” came my way, i would consider it, because +$4000 for a new one??? holy f!!!!!

  34. Helen on 07/18/2012:

    Well said. Especially the boring-bone part.

  35. Staci @ My Friend Staci on 07/18/2012:

    Amen, Morgan!

  36. beatriz on 07/18/2012:

    exactly. i could not possibly agree more.

  37. Rachel Schindler on 07/18/2012:

    I was raised on a ranch, so please forgive my unsophisticated rant. If I buy a designer piece to place in my home, do I label it, so the people that visit , know that its a designer piece? This reminds me of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills episode, when the one new housewife pointed to her sunglasses and said”$25,000″…who cares…I love the Brick House style and wouldn’t know if the things that are in it are real or fake, who cares…it looks homey, comfortable and a place that I would like to hang out in.

  38. Ling on 07/18/2012:

    Thank you so much for expanding on the article. I read it a few weeks ago and was confused by the selection of “insiders” given that you were the ONLY one who had anything reasonable to say for the other side of the spectrum. I feel like the discussion shouldn’t be about (or at least not 100% about) knock-offs vs. properly licensed/original designs, but rather about construction quality. Just like you, I believe there are plenty of high-end labels that make shoddy stuff. Not only that, I feel like the elite pool of designer label furniture provides such a limited selection of things too! If everyone had the money to buy their stuff, it would begin to get a little boring with everyone owning the same thing in a few different colorways. I think we should take this knock-off/original debate and turn it into fuel for promoting indie designers & makers of things and mix up the diversity of furniture design out there. Everything is starting to all look about the same. And is it just me or does everyone & their dog have the Eames lounger chair w/ footstool? Maybe what we should be talking about is WHY there’s a lack of indie labels out there.

  39. Jill on 07/18/2012:

    Isn’t value in the eye of the beholder? Who is anyone to tell us that anything that we like and enjoy living with is worthless? I agree with Laura about intellectual property and other than that, I buy what I like. If I choose to pay a price, high or low, if it brings me pleasure, it has value to me. Who cares what anyone else thinks. The elitist attitude is whats boring.

  40. Kathy on 07/18/2012:

    Just discovered your site–love the information about AFFORDABLE decorating–why can’t us po’ folks have nice homes too!! Good info!!

  41. Ashok on 07/18/2012:

    This is really very simple. Value is attributed by the individual and the market, not by the creator of the asset. So someone buying a Picasso print often carries the same value to the person buying it, as the one buying the real thing. The logic that there’s no intrinsic value is just bullshit unless the only value that designer credits as being present is financial value. Which just totally fucking goes counter to the whole idea of honest design.

    Thanks Morgan for having the (balls) to say what’s up.

  42. drea on 07/18/2012:

    amen, sister!! Well said.

  43. Fiona Hanley on 07/18/2012:

    Great, balanced post. I love vintage furniture, in fact got into it by following your blog and Door Sixteen’s. I just wanted to add that vintage is of course better than knockoffs in terms of carbon footprint and better quality, as well as having the authenticity that a design lover knows is the real thing BUT the original designers don’t make a single cent out of a vintage original any more than they do an unlicensed knockoff. Choosing vintage over knockoffs does not directly financially support the design industry in that sense.

  44. Courtney on 07/18/2012:

    YES!!! My husband and I were just having this conversation after drooling over unaffordable pieces at DWR.

  45. rick on 07/18/2012:

    appreciate your thoughts (and those of danielle and vintage cabin) but think this debate is less about design and more about class and income. also not a hedgefund manager or a social media billionaire (or even a design insider) so firstdibs and high priced showrooms are just decorating and consumption porn to me.
    i don’t think most of us would choose to “rip off” anyone but i also don’t get the idea of enriching idiot grandkids. (at some point design enters the public domain; where this occurs seems to be part of the driver for knockoffs in my opinion).

    personally i’m a no knock-off but also no $50,000 coffee table guy.
    it’s more about 2 of your other comment -“there’s a million other + better chairs” and “I don’t want to forget about handmade pieces from individual fabricators or designers” as well as my own quesiness about social striving and class. it’s never really just about a look for me. I also tend toward clearly hand-made and crafted- as opposed to molded – modernism, so knockoffs are less common and less likely to feel right.

    i feel one can almost always find something beautiful and well made and designed for less then the cost of most knockoffs and still have sometime authentic. it might not be what shelter mags and blogs are hawking but even that is possible.

    i can’t afford gio ponti but have found cheap and unattributed carlo di carli pieces.

    my risom dining chairs, (the c140 playboy chairs, w/ and w/o arms), came to me in boxes via greyhound in singles and pairs from all over the US and then again via craigslist. this was before risom was re-discovered by the style makers, in ralph pucci and dwr. they averaged under $180/chair including shipping which still seems like a steal to me. since it took 18 months to assemble a set even the cost was spread out. (at one point i had 20; sold 8 which covered the cost of the rest).
    my risom floating bench, via north carolina, again from ebay, was a christmas auction. (FYI ebay sellers, people generally don’t buy home furniture between christmas and new years.)
    my hans wegner papa bear and ottoman was another really lucky ebay score bought during the dotcom slowdown for 2/3rds of the price of a modernica chair copy. i bought it after sitting in several hundred other chairs over a decade and deciding that it really was the most comfortable chair ever designed (the womb chair and the borsani L77 are also great).

    i will likely never own a lindsay adelman or a paavo tynell chandelier, but your prior use of her free design solved a problem in an authentic way. looking at adelman spec sheets makes me want to design my own light using LEDs; it doesn’t feel impossible. in the meantime i’ve made some lights using ikea vases, used other lighting, including ikea and cb2 fixtures, and have scored jielde and aalto originals on my hunts.

    what really amazes me about your home and blog (aside from how you put it together and your voice) is your speed in acquiring great stuff at great prices (whether real or knockoff). my own efforts have taken much longer and seem far less entertaining and as danielle states required some “patience and saving up”.

  46. Stacey@aGoodehouse on 07/18/2012:

    For such a boring topic…. it’s HOT in here! HA! As someone who’s been collecting mid-century modern for over 20 years I have to remind myself not to take this shit too serious. Do I buy fakes? Sure. Do I have lots of the real stuff,… you bet I do. Which do I like more? The real stuff is better. I’m also not rich (work for an NPR radio station) enough said. I certainly could never afford a Barcelona chair but have searched for one for almost 20 years. I finally broke down and bought an Alphaville reproduction a year ago and it’s SUPER nice. Then a month ago I find a vintage Knoll barcelona at a sidewalk sale for $5.00. WTF! Only 3 blocks from my house. Let me just say… there IS a difference and it has nothing to do with status or a desire to be one of the rich and fabulous. Screw that! It’s a beautiful piece of well-designed furniture. Copy all you want… it will never be the same. Do I care? Not really. Again, which would I rather have. DUHHH!
    The retailers that sell the “licensed” designs can bitch all they want but until they offer the modern lover something at a price they can afford people will always go somewhere else to get their design “high”. Honestly, every modern lover I know are people who could never afford $7,000 for a chair… so who the hell buys it?

    I love that you mix things Morgan. It’s not always possible to have the real thing and for those who can’t it’s a wonderful option. Some of them are made really well and if you do a little research and buy the good ones they can last and be enjoyed for years and years. Your home should be a place that makes you happy. Get what you want and enjoy your space. I’m in no position to judge but if you can get the real thing (esp. vintage) and you truly love and want modern, it’s worth it and you should.
    Honestly, I prefer to find mine by the side of the road! I have never paid more than $200 for any piece in my home, except that reproduction. (now isn’t that a kick in the ass!) HA!

  47. Joellyn on 07/18/2012:

    Had to speak up and say that I appeciate your honest, non-elitist point of view. So annoying to have to pay through the nose for prestige instead of just getting what you pay for quality-wise.

  48. Evan Ruff on 07/18/2012:

    “The Best for the Most for the Least” – Chuck Eames

    Something tells me $1,400 for the Plywood Lounger isn’t what he had in mind.

  49. MJ on 07/18/2012:

    I had to smile at “Super Elite Designer Status” because you speak for anyone–and everyone–who balks at high prices and, rather sensibly, seeks out finds that are more in line with their budgets. Also, love the boring bone part.

  50. Autumn on 07/18/2012:

    Agreed. you said it so well. Of course we’d all like to have OG, but sometimes you make do in your own budget with a well copied KO.

  51. Jackie on 07/18/2012:

    Testify, Sister!

  52. Amy on 07/18/2012:

    Well said, agree 100%.

  53. Jessica W on 07/18/2012:

    Amen! Nothing aggravates me more than this designer price jacking. In 1952 the Eames LCW (molded plywood chair) cost about $21. That’s $155 today, when adjusted for inflation. Design Within Reach sells new licensed LCWs for $850+. Completely goes against the Eames’ entire philosophy on accessible design.

    Also: “Design Within Reach” my ass.

  54. Suzy8track on 07/18/2012:

    Morgan, you are SPOT ON!! Love your take on this!!

  55. Teresa on 07/18/2012:

    Word up on the “mass produced iconic designs originally made to be affordable functional pieces for mid-range consumers now being sold at exorbitant fetish style prices after their designers are long deceased” being disingenuous thing. I have always thought it was particularly insulting that Design Within Reach sells those well-conceived iconic pieces at exactly out of reach prices. The spirit of many of those designs was to make pretty shit available to us peons.

  56. Amanda on 07/18/2012:

    The main question that this spurred for me is: where can I buy knock-offs? I am finally able to throw down a little money on furniture now that I’m out of college, and every mid-century modern style piece seems crazy expensive.

  57. Frankie on 07/18/2012:

    God…I f’ing love your blog, this post….everything! It truly has changed how I view decorating my own home. I have some knockoffs mixed with originals and some vintage and they all work well together and not a single person has ever asked me if something is real or fake…everyone, including me, just sees it all as furniture that works well together. And I like it, so who cares?

  58. Jess on 07/18/2012:

    I completely agree! When I saw 4 white bertoia dimond chairs sitting on the side of the road for dumping, I jumped at the chance to grab them! I knew they were just replicas but I love their design and I’ve always felt that they pay homage to the originals. I’ll never be able to afford originals, but considering the purpose of the designs was to create affordable, good looking furniture, I have no qualms in living with replicas.

  59. Amber on 07/18/2012:

    I wish this post had also been included in the Dwell article. Well said. Thanks for sharing.

  60. Mary S. on 07/18/2012:

    Your comment, “any Eames chair made of molded plastic is bullshit” just about crushed me. I have wanted an Eames rocker for the longest time. I was so desperate for one that I wanted to buy a molded plastic style because I love the design. I never even SAT in one (real of fake) I just think the design is beautiful. Then came your words and I told myself to be patient. Well, believe it or not I went to my local Goodwill here in Maine for the SECOND time today (I’m a teacher with summer’s off) and the minute I walked in BAM! There it was..be still my heart..can it be? I got down on my knees (to check/pray) and there it was under the ancient do not remove for fear of prosecution label was the Herman Miller name and symbol. Hot damn. The tagged said $34.99- the cashier charged me $29.99-with my discount it was $27.

    It is not the rocker but it is a lovely blue padded front with a grey back. I hope I can replace the bottom with a rocking piece. Any suggestions of where to find one?

    All good things come to those who wait..or read the Brick House! Thanks!!!

  61. Lauren on 07/18/2012:

    You know, I’m a born copier. Whether it be a magazine, internet images, or your blog, if I see something that speaks to me, I will find a way to make it mine. Isn’t that what design really is anyway? Shouldn’t it push us, lead us, make us think, make us dream? I think that most people are inspired, like I am, by things that are unattainable cost-wise and that leads me to improvise to get the look that I want. So to me, creating a shoe-denza from an ikea cabinet sytem for my foyer and having a knockoff Eames are the same thing. I’m just copying. And you know what they say about imitation…

  62. THE BRICK HOUSE on 07/18/2012:

    Mary, congrats! Always feels amazing to score like that.

    eBay is a really good source for replacement rocker bases or Modernica has nice ones. Modern Conscience has them as well and shipping is cheap, but I’m not totally sold on the quality of those.

  63. Mary S. on 07/18/2012:

    Thanks for the info! FYI- I do not teach grammar or spelling..fortunately for my students (art).

  64. Shannon(8foot6) on 07/18/2012:


  65. Cynthia Wig on 07/18/2012:

    These are all great points, Morgan. I am right there with you! There really doesn’t need to be an either/or debate with regard to classic styles of extremely drastic construction variations. I do like to see the design licensing nailed down though.

  66. kim on 07/18/2012:

    I agree with you completely. Even though we don’t roll around in rooms piled high with coins (Scrooge McDuck style), both my husband and I appreciate mid-century modern design. Therefore, at the moment we have a few knockoffs, mixed with other affordable furniture, pieces made by friends at furniture design school, and well designed IKEA. I’m sure when we win the lottery (and when our four kids move out of home) we will not hesitate to fill our rooms with the ‘real’ stuff, if we can find it in our little corner of the world, that is, as geography also plays a part in affordability and availability.

    I don’t think anyone should be judged quite as harshly as those other ‘experts’ suggest by where/what/how they buy their furniture.

    And indeed since reading the article, and the design insider’s opinions of lowly poor people like ourselves, I’ll tell you what, I’d feel better about buying ‘licensed’ Eames, for instance, if the money wasn’t going to someone who is taking the Eames’ concept of good design, affordability and availability to the masses, and completely turning that on it’s head. Charging high ‘licensed’ prices for the Eames’ ingenuity for no other reason than an exclusive commercial arrangement goes against what these wonderful people were trying to achieve in the first place.

  67. alex sunday on 07/18/2012:

    i love this post. and all the comments. i thought this was a boring topic too, but there’s so much food for thought here! great to be reminded that this furniture we admire was once (for the most part) mass produced to be affordable design for everyone.

  68. SO on 07/18/2012:

    Many people have expressed their rationale for being OK with buying knockoffs by saying they don’t want to support these large companies with their inflated prices. I would question what is being supported by purchasing the knockoffs? Isn’t most of this stuff coming from factories in third world countries that are poisoning the earth and treating their workers like crap?

    I think what we choose to buy and live with is an extension of who we are, that goes for aesthetics and hopefully involves issues far deeper. It shouldn’t always be about price.

  69. SO on 07/18/2012:

    Pertaining to the Charles Eames quote that was mentioned above – “The Best for the Most for the Least”

    I did a small bit of digging around and it looks like the Eames lounge chair and ottoman was $578 when it was introduced in 1956. That was a lot of money back then. In today’s dollars, that comes out to about $4,500. That is pretty close to the retail price today and it’s still a lot of money. It’s also still made in the USA.

    Though, I couldn’t agree with this more.. “I always prefer and recommend buying vintage instead of new production ‘licensed’ designs. Vintage is usually cheaper and built better with better materials.”

  70. THE BRICK HOUSE on 07/18/2012:

    SO, there are a number of pricier pieces (like the lounger) manufactured in the past, no doubt, but I think people aren’t generally referencing those pieces in particular. I also dont think people are boycotting the companies who offer licensed pieces, it’s more about people being priced out of that market and looking for another option.

    Vintage really is the best way to go (and makes up the majority of my personal collection). All the talk about the ‘quality’ of new production ‘licensed’ pieces makes me a bit crazy since compared to vintage, all new production looks like worthless garbage. I’ve honestly never been impressed by the quality of new production ‘licensed’ designer pieces and over the years found that most knockoffs turn out to be about equal in terms of quality.

  71. misa on 07/18/2012:

    so fucking true. also, i don’t see anyone throwing a fit about rip-off mission-style credenzas or some shit that stickley made. what is it about mid-century furniture that makes people think that they know the way, the light, and the truth?

  72. Ash Braun on 07/18/2012:

    Interesting stuff. I try and buy licensed or vintage, or something that is it’s own design, whether that’s artisan or mass produced… I just can’t handle the barstardized, wierd copies (awkwardly bulbous Swan chair, anyone????). Too often the lines are all wrong, as is the quality… and buy the time you get a “good” replica… you may as well pay the extra for vintage or licences. (In Australia, there are HEAPS of shitty replica’s everywhere you look. Some dirt cheap, but the OK ones are still fairly expensive).

    But that’s just how I feel, each to there own… As a designer myself (graphic, not furniture), if someone ripped off my shit I’d be pissed.

    In the past I bought replica Series 7 chairs when I was a poor student and the original was SO out of reach, and the chairs fell apart in a few years. My Vitra Eames chairs are about 10 years old and look like new. And I have to disagree on plastic Eames… definitely not as beautiful, but for more ecological, and the lines/proportions are there.

    There’s also the other issue of most cheap knock-offs being made in sweat shops in China/less developed countries, probably paying the workers a dollar a day to work for 16 hours straight. That doesn’t seem right either…

  73. Ruth on 07/19/2012:

    I all but high-fived the air when I read this. It’s fantastic and spot on.

    I also tend to think that vilifying knock-offs to the extent that some do is terribly classist. It IS incredibly disingenuous to try to flog “authentic licensed” pieces of iconic, once-affordable design at vastly inflated prices. Independent, up-and-coming designs and designers are a different story because, as yet, they may not be rely on a ‘name’ as back up to ensure viability.

    Appreciation for excellent design isn’t proportional to income. I didn’t suddenly want a house full of super mega authentic licensed furniture just because I left university and being a poor student and got a job. Knock-offs of iconic design pieces allow people to have furniture that they love without the fear that they can’t actually use it in case of damage, and without spending more than they probably could or should.

    My problem with knock-offs is the potential for inferior workmanship and materials, and the environmental and social impacts that those problems may have. People buying a house full of knock-offs because they *have* to re-do the house each summer? Not great, really. Harmful materials or production methods? Also less than great. The motives of the purchase frustrate me more than the knock-off or not issue. Anyone who sweeps out and buys whatever amount of knock-off or original just because it’s on-trend then ditch it all later when the next thing crops up, rather than any deeper appreciation, piss me off. Wealthy people who buy names and perceived superiority piss me off too.

    Vintage, as you say, tends to mean better workmanship and harder wearing materials. I think I feel so strongly about this issue because I live in Brisbane, Australia, anything with a ‘name’ tends to range from being exorbitantly overpriced to absolutely not happening unless shipping from overseas. Thanks to savvy buyers and the fact that MCM is still going strong, vintage is heading the same way. Here, at least, knock-offs are an egalitarian compromise.

  74. Simone on 07/19/2012:

    Well, you know, if I had to buy everything I want on the budget I have in Design, then I would be dead before my house is completely furnished. But you know I have an Eames surfboard table here (the real deal) and it is gorgeous, and after 10 years it still looks new.
    But from a manufacturers point of view I can understand where they come from, I mean if you buy a Eames lounge chair you probably will never need a new one (to replace it) ever again, it’s that good.

    But then, you know nobody expects antique furniture to have a limited lifespan, thats good quality as well (though you might not like it). My mom sold off her Ant-chairs bij Jacobsen when they were 30+ years old and they were still good to go. And desireable.

    All I can say; “It’s complicated”

    But you know there is stuff to love at Ikea in my eyes as well (for the meantime, until I die, LOL).

    And well we have childeren, talk about expensive, I mean a carseat f.i., made of polystyreen, plastic and polyestershit (really) and it costs a fortune. Those people should really be ashamed of themselves. The’re laughing all the way to the bank.

    Have a wonderful day!!!

  75. Simone on 07/19/2012:

    Well, you know, if I had to buy everything I want on the budget I have in Design, then I would be dead before my house is completely furnished. But you know I have an Eames surfboard table here (the real deal) and it is gorgeous, and after 10 years it still looks new.
    But from a manufacturers point of view I can understand where they come from, I mean if you buy a Eames lounge chair you probably will never need a new one (to replace it) ever again, it’s that good.

    But then, you know nobody expects antique furniture to have a limited lifespan, thats good quality as well (though you might not like it). My mom sold off her Ant-chairs bij Jacobsen when they were 30+ years old and they were still good to go. And desireable.

    All I can say; “It’s complicated”

    But you know there is stuff to love at Ikea in my eyes as well (for the meantime, until I die, LOL).

    And well we have childeren, talk about expensive, I mean a carseat f.i., made of polystyreen, plastic and polyestershit (really) and it costs a fortune. Those people should really be ashamed of themselves. The’re laughing all the way to the bank.

    Have a wonderful day!!!

  76. flynn on 07/19/2012:

    I wish I could afford more of the design I see, but our budget just doesn’t allow it. I trawl through e-bay constantly for really real mid-century pieces, but nothing ever comes up in our budget, mostly because it’s that small. I skipped that article in Dwell for this reason; it seemed a little too “how the other half lives,” which is unfortunate, as designers need to make a living, too.

    Good rant. Cheers.

    P.S. I did get a chuckle out of your “museum” comment in the argument of the magazine’s viewpoint, as they feature a couple who actually DO live in a museum. Case in point 😉

  77. Sarah on 07/19/2012:

    My mantra is to always buy quality. That usually means vintage because, as you said, it is truly at a better price point & absolutely made better. I strive to find the real deal, but if it isn’t at a price point I can afford I go for the next best thing that is. Buy quality & enjoy the piece for what it brings to you & your home.

  78. kimb on 07/19/2012:

    I love how the word vintage has replace the word antique. its still the same thing but when you call it vintage people don’t mind altering it so much. Words words and words.
    I do have one more thing to add as much as I don’t care anymore about vintage and reproduction I do care about people being impressed with poster art and not dishing out the money for a real piece of art. And no I don’t consider furniture art.

    also I need to start selling stuff on ebay any hints from the brick house on how to go about doing this, email me please.

  79. Taylor on 07/19/2012:

    I usually buy vintage furniture, to be honest (although the bedbug epidemic in NYC made me think twice about that), but I DO have some knockoff Eames dining chairs (and yes, they are plastic).

    Why? My cat had destroyed my vintage woven chairs and I couldn’t find anything that I felt like I could commit to in my price range, since I’m spending money doing renovations on my house. I doubt I will keep these forever, but I’ll donate them somewhere and someone else can benefit until I find some great (probably vintage chairs).

    But seriously, my husband and I make good money, and I can’t fathom spending $7k on a credenza. (My friends splurged and bought a $3k chair from DWR and their cat destroyed the fabric two days later. DESTROYED.)

    I think the people that buy the authentic pieces are usually using interior decorators. (I also know some architects who saved up for their dining table and chairs.)

  80. Simone on 07/19/2012:

    @Kimb ther is a difference between antique and vintage, antique has to at least 100 years old to be called antique (at least over here in Europe it does) vintage (in my mind) has more to do with buying something from about the 50’s or 60’s. Also in my mind antique is not a product that is mass produced while sometimes that can be the charm in vintage that it is something that really has been around in a certain era and has shaped our perception of that era. Like a vintage car or sign of some kind.

  81. Simone on 07/19/2012:

    P.S. I once saw a Rietveld chair being found on an antique-roadshow. It was later auxioned off for more than 150k (in euro’s). You know that has nothing to do with anything anymore.
    And as much as I love young designers, my husband works with someone who used to work with Maarten Baas (Dutch design) he could ask the most insane amounts of money for an item, 50k for a table? not a problem.
    Like take the Rietveld chairs, some/ a lot are actually not that difficult to make, and the rights to the design have passed the date that makes them exclusive to the person who designed them. But the Rietveld family has sold a lot of production rights to Cappelini and they really make it their business to frighten off anyone who is thinking about making something.

    That leaves me with one question, is your daybed, that used to be in your livingroom, real or is it a knockoff and where did you leave it?

  82. Brianna on 07/19/2012:

    “It’s hard for me to seriously listen to someone in a vastly different tax bracket with obvious conflicts of interest tell everyone ‘to just save up’ and buy a licensed $7,000 Knoll credenza or accept not owning any design pieces they like. At all.”

    When people start rattling on about knock-offs vs originals this is exactly what I think about.

  83. Donna B. on 07/19/2012:

    Hey, if any of those guy wanna buy me a crazy 7K piece of furniture.. I’ll take it! … … … Take it back to the store and get a REFUND.
    [Then use the 7K towards home repair. Hehe. :D]

  84. Simone on 07/19/2012:

    Wow this subject really has got me thinking.

    First of all, there is a reason why the Eames chairs are no longer made of polyester -I find some people quite snooty about the old Eames-chairs if I am honest- because polyester is a very very poluting material. Not just for the environment, and not just when (if) they ever become junk, but for the people who make them as well (braindamage due to solvents in polyesther for the people working with it). So you might be all: “the old shells are better” well, if I ever buy them “my shells will not have fried anybody’s brains or have caused cancer somewhere in someobody” that should be worth something.

    Second, companies might have particular “bestsellers”, but these bestsellers sometimes finance the production of lesser desired brothers -and therefore lesser produced products. So skimming off the market by making knock-offs is in a way a cultural crime. Because these companies take no responsibilty for the cultural context from where the “thing” comes from.

    Third of all, the products that come from Vitra (the company that sells Eames over here in Europe) are much more expensive than the ones sold by Herman Miller over in the US. So you don’t have it so bad over there. If I lived in the US I would have a LCW in no time. Fyi: the LCW in red costs: $985,= at DWR, over here it costs: $1596,75 (1302 euro’s). Don’t ask me why.

  85. Ina Late on 07/19/2012:

    I always said that the stile doesn’t have anything with the money. You can have a great interior without expensive pieces. Good quality wood, warm colors and nice pictures are enough. You can be modern without knockoff, even unique with some vintage touch.

  86. Nick on 07/19/2012:

    This is so good. Thank you for this post, you’re the only one of those people who might actually live in the real world.

    That being said, we have some authentic plastic eames chairs that we bought on CL for $30/piece. Not the highest quality, but it’s the only bright white chair you can own with a toddler!

  87. archmom on 07/19/2012:

    Here, Here! I completely agree….authentic pieces are way over priced! I can’t even imagine the take home pay one has to make in order to buy, ‘guilt free’ a $4,000 chair. Its really unreasonable to charge that. I work very hard and in the design industry to boot and can not afford those authentic pieces so why should I be denied a knock off that is perfectly functional and just as beautiful?

  88. christa on 07/19/2012:

    I am such a huge fan of everything you do and I think your perspective on the DWELL blog was a nice counterpoint, which is probably why they included you. I think the focus of the story was not to exclude poor people, although really, that snobby attitude is a sad byproduct of designer sales — making people feel inadequate is good for their business.

    I think the real issue is that businesses like http://stores.advancedinteriordesigns.com/StoreFront.bok who sell knock offs are damaging to designers and design businesses for two reasons: one, cutting into sales, and two, damaging the brand by putting inferior products out there. I’ve seen stores selling knock offs exactly like the ones on the website above, and I think the quality is quite awful. Modernica, on the other hand, has really good quality. I bought some things there before I realized that they weren’t licensed. Then I started buying more from Design Within Reach (of a Chosen Few) — the prices are similar.

    What happens if the knock off businesses put the original design businesses out of business? It’s interesting because I think that cheap knock offs are part of what made MCM and Danish furniture lose popularity back in the 70s.

    I think there are more options for poor people than to shop at crappy stores or feel excluded. There are lots of affordable furniture designers selling pieces on Etsy, there’s vintage and bargains all over CL and eBay. There’s also the idea of having less stuff, or deferring gratification, as in, waiting for the super deal, or saving up for the original.

    I have some money now but I certainly didn’t when I was 30. I did exactly what you do — bargain hunt, wait, occasional splurge, and pick up garage sale pieces as place holders. The search and find puts the sport in home decor.

  89. Keira @ The Bennett House on 07/19/2012:

    So well said!! I too read that Dwell article and just rolled my eyes at the (other) design insiders’ obviously self serving views.

  90. Sylvie Allain on 07/19/2012:

    Interior Designer here, chiming in on this lovely debate.
    I totally understand the allure of knock-offs, you get the great look at a better price. And I totally agree that there are a LOT of snobs in the design industry. But I personally don’t like buying knock offs, and here is why.
    In all design fields, graphic, fashion blah blah, you can’t trade mark a design. Which means that you can copy the style of a chair or a purse. You can`t name it the same thing and put the same logo on it, but you can name it the same. So as a creator, I can’t help but feel cheated, if I designed something that was being copied. Since I know these products, and know their history, it would make me uneasy to knowingly buy a reproduction. I wouldn’t go as far as saying that they are evil, and buying a chair that is ‘inspired’ by another piece of furniture is totaly fine, but to buy a flat out copy….it makes me kinda sad for some reason. I understand that a lot of people look at the originals price tags and say ‘that much for a chair?!’, and yes there is a probably much heigher than necessary mark-up, but I continue to think of furniture as investements. Why would I buy 3-4 dining tables at 500$ a pop, when I can save up a little and buy one that I love for 1500$? And all this is coming from a poor designer, I am not making huge money, very far from it in fact, but I still think it’s a nice thing to invest in.
    But there is so much affordable original design out there if you don’t/can’t spend that money. Good design does not mean expensive, or at least it shouldn’t.

  91. Bedo on 07/19/2012:

    Sigh, I don’t know where to begin. I read above mentioned article, the reactions below on dwell were somewhat laughable “I have kids so therefore…” strange justification for trying to keep up with the joneses. Because that is always how I viewed people who buy knock offs. For some that may be actually the case and for some not, they genuinely like the design of a chair, and don’t care about its designer history. I believe firmly that anyone who appreciates a designers history…does not go out and buy a knock off ..but instead searches for a vintage. Now for the designs that usually pop up in these discussions, the eameses mostly, there is a thin line between what’s dubbed fake and real. I know a company that sells old Shells, but with new bases…so is that fake? or a restauration? I like to view that as restaurations. One thing that really baffles me is this: I live in europe, and a daw original will go for 460 euro, a panton for 300 and a kartell mr impossible for 250 or a driade Toy chair for 100. THERE ARE TONS OF ORIGINAL DESIGN CHOICES to be made. I buy one pair of diesel jeans instead of 3 pairs of zara jeans. It’s just a choice you make. I really think one culprit of this current desire for a dsr chaisr comes from all the tv design shows that cant appear to design a room without throwing 7 fake dsr chairs around a dinging table.

  92. Elizabeth on 07/19/2012:

    Well said.

  93. melinda on 07/19/2012:

    “anyone who can’t afford the ‘real licensed thing’ from a few select companies should just give up and only buy furniture from designated stores”. You are right that is so obnoxious. Thanks for siding with normal people when you could quite easily lump yourself in with the design elite

  94. Mary on 07/19/2012:

    It freaks me out a bit to have furniture that is so expensive and precious. I grew up with some beautiful midcentury furniture and a family who was meticulous about its upkeep. After my cats shredded the upholstery on two rare Aalto chairs, I decided that knockoffs offer a certain peace of mind. I still have a few gems inherited from my family but have mixed in some knockoffs. The best is a fake swan sofa from White on White furniture. It’s so well made! My cats have gone to town on the wool upholstery but still looks brand new. So choose between an 8k sofa from DWR which may look like crap in two months or $800 for the pirated version? Hopefully Arne Jacobsen will understand.

  95. Ash Braun on 07/19/2012:

    Seems like cats and children are the enemy of authentic design… So, I’ll happily forgo the cats and kids, and get me some Fritz Hansen and Herman Miller instead! Win-win.

  96. alexandra keller on 07/19/2012:

    i buy vintage, i buy new, i even buy ikea sometimes. i bought a knockoff tulip table for the kitchen. wasn’t sure i’d like it in there, so a few hundred seemed more reasonable than a few thousand. the quality is so-so. could be true of anything – vintage, new, ikea or knockoff.
    still not sure i like it. sure glad i only spent a few hundred.

  97. Fe on 07/19/2012:

    Hurrah for telling it how it is !!! Yeah, we’d all like to own the authentic real deal……I have a real Eames black rocker and quite frankly any other additions will be knock off’s, after all I need to eat, have a roof over my head……sadly……

  98. Gaidig on 07/20/2012:

    I think Danielle addressed a number of my thoughts quite well, but to put it for myself: I understand that quality comes at a price, and I want to support designers and companies with good manufacturing practices; however, I do not buy furniture as an investment, I buy it to use. I want to create an environment that I find beautiful and functional. Evidence suggests that my taste changes over time, however, I am all about enduring style and timeless pieces. If I can keep using a piece for decades, that’s the best way to combat consumerism. It’s certainly better in my opinion that the piece be a decent knock-off than it be some horror show from a buy-your-room-as-a-set place that will last only long enough to upgrade to the next model.

  99. S. Genloftrichin on 07/20/2012:


  100. maureen on 07/20/2012:

    morgan, Just a little bit of support coming your way….I read the article in question when it came out…truth be told you were the only person I related/agreed with. Someone explaining to designers that “the emperor has no clothes” might be a bit of a reality check for them, but something they need to hear. ps LOVE your home and ALL its furnishings!!! ( the wall hangings KILL me!!! 🙂 )

  101. Krystal on 07/20/2012:

    Hello….I am curious about your comment regarding the Eames plastic moulded chairs…I really would LOVE to buy some but as pointed out in this posting I unfortunately cannot afford the real thing. I’ve been looking at some of the knock-offs and was considering buying them….but now I want to make sure I am informed. Have you heard or experienced them to be of really bad quality?

  102. Jaime Gillin on 07/20/2012:

    As the writer of the “Real Costs of Rip-Offs” essay in Dwell (http://www.dwell.com/articles/the-real-cost-of-rip-offs.html), I wanted to chime in and say I appreciate everyone’s perspectives here. And Morgan, thank you for chatting with me while I was doing my research—I knew you’d have something fresh and smart to offer, and a good balancing perspective to those “industry insiders” I quoted in my supplementary blog post (http://www.dwell.com/articles/10-design-experts-quotes-on-modern-knockoffs.html). I tried to squeeze a lot into my short essay—showing how knockoffs impact designers and manufacturers; how intellectual property laws play into the cycle; and proposing affordable alternatives to knockoffs, like buying new pieces by young designers, who need our support and $$$ in order to make a living, or buying vintage (often cheaper than knockoffs, and better made). But my main goal was to spark conversation… and clearly the subject remains ripe for discussion and debate, as evidenced here!

  103. Joseph Woolfolk on 07/20/2012:

    The idea that no one should have a Picasso print in their home because it will not go up in value is beyond idiotic.

  104. SO on 07/20/2012:

    Claiming knockoffs represent the democratization of design and anti-classism is repugnant. Is it really OK to buy disposable crap furniture made in polluting Chinese factories that treat their workers like slaves because you can’t imagine your living room without a womb chair?

    The focus on whether a piece of furniture is licensed or not shouldn’t be the issue. Price and the superficial need for a particular design is obscuring the real issues. Where does the environment, human rights and to a lesser extent, the theft of intellectual property, fit into the equation? Does that all get thrown out the window because you can’t afford something?

    I’m as obsessed on design as the next person and I can’t afford to buy a $7,000 credenza either, but I also know that I can probably find something vintage that is much more interesting. It will also be better made, didn’t have to shipped across the world and will last another 50 years and not just end up in a landfill with the rest of the crap that’s designed to break down every few years. People used to save up to buy things and live with them until they died. Now it seems that many are content with buying disposable junk for “the look”.

    Considering most of the comments so far this probably isn’t going to be a popular viewpoint and my intent isn’t to offend anyone who buys knockoffs. I totally get the frustration of “Design Out of Reach.” I am also aware that not buying a knockoff isn’t going to save the planet. I just think everyone would be better off if they took the time to think about what they’re buying and where it came from, no matter how much it costs or whether its authorized or not.

  105. Heather on 07/21/2012:

    Morgan, you’re a breath of fresh air! I would chime in with the folks who say that they buy furniture to use rather than as an investment. I would be categorized under the “poor folk” category I guess, and I really don’t think the designers understand what they are asking. If I saved up to only buy designer things, I would have one outfit that I liked on rotation every few years…….I would have a piece of furniture that I loved every 5-10 years. I do love buying vintage and do that whenever I can, but I just don’t understand designers wanting us (average folks) to live like that. For lack of a better way of saying it- it just seems unkind and out of touch. Maybe they need to appeal to the richer class to never buy knock-offs, that make more sense?

  106. James on 07/21/2012:


    Just wanted to give you props for your realistic perspective in this debate! While Knoll, Herman Miller etc., all make Beautiful furniture for the 99% they are effectively museum pieces. There is no justifiable reason why a Bertoia Chair should cost $400 plus.

    Also to the above poster SO- your perspective is repugnant. Is the purpose of design to decorate the houses of the super-rich? I certainly don’t think this was the intent of Wright, Eames and other early designers/architects. Also I highly doubt that major design firms and manufacturers treat their workers or the environment any better than firms producing knock-offs. Finally, the intellectual property argument is total bullshit IMHO- if you refuse to make items that real people can afford who cares?? you and your company are totally irrelevant to the world.

    My last point would be that to a certain extent the authentic vs. knockoffs debate is a total sham. Knockoff firms aren’t taking business away from the original designers due to the way cultural distinction and taste figure into the equation. No snobby asshole would ever think of buying a knock-off (what if their friends knew?!?!), while those who buy knock-offs would never be so stupid to spend $10,000+ on a couch. Just my thoughts……

  107. Becky on 07/21/2012:

    Vitra Miniatures. Need I say more?

  108. Jam on 07/21/2012:

    As someone with a bit of a chair problem (we just added two & it brought the household chair total to 23!), I love to collect those iconic designs that work for my life, Pantone S chairs in the dining, womb chair in a reading nook… Etc.

    We have a mix of authentic (as far as we can tell) as well as known knock-offs with a few of mystery origins. For us it was about working with our budget, our time (hunting for authentic vintage items only can leave a room empty for an infuriating duration), but mostly it’s about quality. I would say, some of the reproductions/knock offs we have are superbly made. They’ve already served us for years, and we see them continuing on for a long time. We might be chair hoarders, but we aren’t looking for disposable items, or crips matching sets.

    I love to support individual designer, and a hand crafted piece that speaks to you and your home can totally justify that higher priced investment. But when it comes to those iconic items, many were actually intended to be “for the masses”, designed specifically in a manner or material that was easy to produce, affordable & accessible to many. So, decades later, to have those same chairs sold at an inaccessible price point defeats some of the soul behind their initial creation. finding them vintage honors some of that original soul, but buying the knockoff, or the hundreds of “inspired by” similar pieces doesn’t detract from their iconic status in my eye.

  109. straydogstudio on 07/22/2012:

    Thank you for calling bullshit on molded plastic Eames shell chairs.

  110. Elin on 07/22/2012:

    I buy furniture that I like at prices I can afford. I have never purposely gone out to look for a knock-off of anything designer, but I also would not avoid buying a thing i like just because it was a knock-off of a designer piece. I like nice looking comfortable stuff, I am not a collector of names or brands. I think a lot of consumers are like me.

  111. Ben on 07/23/2012:

    Perhaps a distinction has to be made.
    Plycraft Eames lounge chairs aren’t the same as cheap garbage made overseas. And Modernica shell chairs aren’t the same as overstock.com plastic shell chairs.
    Plycraft made a durable product and paid their employees livable wages. Modernica also makes a quality product.
    Cheap junk made overseas is garbage and they treat their workers like cattle.
    When you go and buy another knock off, just think of all the professionals and workers who’s industry you are destroying,
    Also think of the workers overseas who are being enslaved by the shady business men who you are supporting.
    If the price is the issue, buy a vintage piece on ebay, your local vintage shop, antique mall or craigslist.
    If price is REALLY an issue, go to thrift stores.
    You can certainly find them for just as cheap if not cheaper than the garbage made overseas but it will be well made and you’ll be putting money in the hands of people making an honest living.
    Sure, you may end up with a Burke tulip table instead of a fake plastic tulip table that “resembles” the original a bit more but the Burke table will last longer and will be worth at least what you paid for it in 5-10 years.
    Personally, I prefer to save up & hunt for authentic vintage pieces (HM, Knoll, Fritz Hansen, etc).
    Burke & plycraft don’t make the cut for my home but I would offer them as a fair alternative for those who don’t have the time to find or money to buy authentic vintage pieces.
    Same goes for Modernica and others like it.
    I see no shame in owning well made vintage or new knock offs by honest companies trying to make an affordable alternative to what can be very expensive collectibles.
    I am certainly not wealthy but I’ve amassed a decent collection of original pieces. It’s not that hard (as Morgan demonstrates in this blog).
    My sympathy goes to the people enslaved by greedy business men overseas, NOT to the people supporting those shady companies.
    The comments here sound like people trying to frame the argument as though it is either a $7,000 brand new Knoll table vs a $500 cheap look-a-like made out of garbage.
    Just go to your local vintage shop and support them. Support a part time ebay dealer or heaven forbid, save up and buy a licenced piece and support the actual designer & manufacturer who’s work you actually like!
    I think this is what the original article was trying to get at more than putting down your plycraft eames lounge chairs.
    Also, vintage pieces that have sky rocketed in price have done so because they represent a very interesting time in design & manufacture history. Not just because of rich people trying to snub you.
    The amount of care and thought that went into making these pieces make them functional art.
    The argument that Charles & Ray Eames set out to make affordable furniture thus it should always be cheap makes no sense to me.
    Should Picasso’s only cost what he charged for them?

  112. Tess Kelly on 07/23/2012:

    Thanks! I agree, I have both knockoff’s and licensed pieces living together side by side. I love them all, and use them everyday. Boring is right!

  113. Tyler on 07/23/2012:

    Great write up Morgan! I read the Dwell back when it came out and, while being thrilled for your name and input showing up in the magazine, I couldn’t wait to see your response. As an owner of vintage and knockoff’s alike, I couldn’t agree with your point of view more. Living outside St. Louis I don’t have quite as many options as those living in larger/more design minded cities… but they ARE out there. The only knockoff’s I currently own are some Eames MOLDED PLASTIC dining chairs. My main reasoning for buying them: they were cheap enough that I didn’t feel bad about trying them out, and after two years I wasn’t having any luck finding four matching ones on craigslist, estate sales, antique shops, etc. After seeing the quality I don’t think I’d buy them again and couldn’t agree more with you that the molded plastic chairs are “bullshit.” Would NEVER pay retail cost for new molded plastic Eames chairs. Long live vintage!

  114. BRIAN PAQUETTE on 07/23/2012:

    Simply said. THANK YOU. This was well written and honest and I couldn’t be in more agreement with you.


  115. Donald on 07/23/2012:

    How is buying a fake Cherner chair any different than buying an illegally downloaded copy of an album, or a movie? Or in your eyes, is high price versus low price what makes it moral? So you’re like the Robin Hood of furniture?

  116. cathy on 07/23/2012:

    So…there should only be one version of a design that it’s OK to buy? Many of the furniture designers so revered from the ’50s, ’60s & ’70s made similar versions of the same thing. Cado wall system vs. George Nelson wall unit? In every art and every time, people have inspired one another, and they’ll continue to do so. I have a George Nelsonesque slatted bench from the ’60s. It was my grandfather’s, who bought it new. Should I not keep it because it’s not the real deal? Are you going to boycott a musician because you can hear the influences of other musicians in their songs? I doubt it. Buying a piece of furniture that is inspired by another IS NOT the same as illegally downloading an album.

    That said, in everything we purchase we should consider not just price or how on-trend it is, but also how, where, and by whom it was produced. Recycling, by buying vintage, is generally better for the planet (and more affordable) than buying new, whether it’s licensed, a knock off, or el cheapo disposable furniture. To me it’s no different than paying attention to where my food comes from and buying locally-grown in-season produce rather than tomatoes from Argentina in December.

  117. cathy on 07/23/2012:

    Let me take the music analogy one step further. Think of a song you like that’s also been covered by another musician/band. Is it only OK to buy the original version?

  118. Becky on 07/23/2012:

    Yes Cathy! Yes yes yes! That would be ridiculous. Why is everyone so angry about this?

  119. Barbette on 07/23/2012:

    It is late and I haven’t scrolled through all of the comments, and I apologize for that….but your blog (which I enjoy) has inspired me to jump in and comment. The first thing that struck me about this is that in fact Dwell Magazine has itself exhibited a real “rip off ” here. Elle Decoration (UK version of Elle Decor) has been passionately addressing this issue for some time now, while Dwell has been a bit of a broken record about other, tired topics, for what seems like years.

    As a visual artist and the widow of a musician, I am a great believer that originators should be rewarded for their original ideas. As someone on a budget, I cede that there is a bit of a balance as you strive to create a beautiful living space while living a moral life as a consumer. I do most of my shopping on etsy and delight in scoring a vintage piece in like new condition at a good price. After searching online for ages for a vintage Eames dining chair set in my beloved neutral palette, price and availability defeated me and I jumped at the Herman Miller sale this spring. You say “Any Eames chair made of molded plastic is bullshit.” While I was hesitant to add any plastic to my home (all I have ever had before are a few pieces of Tupperware, one Heller tray and two vintage desk organizers), I love these pieces. They were made in America, are designed to perfection, reuse discarded materials, and have a delightful give that makes our backs sing after a long, lovingly prepared and shared meal.

  120. cathy on 07/24/2012:

    Barbette, you bring up a key point: living with your furniture (or art, or music…). Many of us try to buy “investment” pieces (iconic or not) primarily because they have great designs, are well made, and are a joy to live with. How many of us buy those same things because we are attempting to build a collection and expect our furniture (especially furniture) to appreciate in value? The snippet of the article presented above (not Morgan’s comments) would seem to indicate that THAT is why we should buy only originals–future value. If the point were really to honor great (or popular) design ideas, then we should embrace them all–originals, licensed reproductions, and knock offs alike.

    Good for you for buying what works for you and loving it. Personally, I don’t know anyone who does it any other way.

  121. Simone on 07/24/2012:

    Cathy, there is a world of difference between making an exact copy of something or making something inspired by something someone else made. Also if you cover someone’s music the revenue for the writing of that song f.i. goes to the originsl writer of the song not to yourself. So a cover in music is never without financial merit for the original composer. Unlike thoughtlessly ripping off someone elses design.

  122. Braden on 07/24/2012:

    I read this blog religiously because you’re hilarious, talented, and you take nice photos. Now I have new reasons: you’re brave, eloquent, and whip-smart. Keep it up, lady.

  123. cathy on 07/24/2012:

    Good point, Simone.
    As a musician, I can also tell you that copyrights only last so many years and then songs go into the public domain. Not sure if there’s anything analogous in something like furniture design.

  124. meg on 07/24/2012:

    hear, fucking, hear.

  125. Thayer on 07/24/2012:

    The references to the music business bring to mind guitars. I own so many of them, I’m tripping over them. The big name guitar companies have looked the industry straight in the eye, and responded differently than furniture companies. They’ve all introduced their own “knockoffs” of themselves. They have lower priced versions for buyers that are aspirational. There’s something for everyone. The top of the line versions are still the holy grail, as they should be. The nuances of value, class, elitism, practicality, etc. are all still there, but the manufacturers have decided to run with it all. I wonder if that business model is possible with furnishings.

  126. Simone on 07/25/2012:

    Cathy, with furniture you have copyright. That lasts .. years (we are in debate over the exact timeframe over here). It used to be 50 years. So you can make f.i. Rietveld furniture from the period up until appr. 1950 without a problem. Definitely worth a try. He designed his furniture with furnituremakers in mind and there are good books about this. Having said that a friend of ours burnt all his parents original Rietveld furniture (LOL). Ignorance is bliss.
    My husband does research into printing mouthpieces for saxophones, they have patented the research and the findings but the patent alone is so expensive it will take a long while before they will make money out of it.

  127. ModFruGal on 07/25/2012:

    Thank you for saying everything I felt when I read that article, and articulating it better than I ever could.

  128. Meaghan on 07/25/2012:

    There is so much lunacy in both sides of this debate. I value quality and the intrinsic beauty of something that can and will outlive me if taken care of. I cannot afford four figure design, I also cannot afford to purchase something that is manufactured ‘not to last’ so that I can contribute to the endless landfill that is the spoils of an ‘I want it now’ culture. A culture that digs us deeper into a pit of waste by celebrating impermanence and cheapness as though it is the badge of honour of being poor! I am poor. I need things that will last forever, that were designed and built with that intention. My Granny once told me that when you are poor you can’t afford to buy cheap – and by cheap she meant things that compromised on quality materials and craftsmanship. As a restorer, I expect to fix things as they age, but the standard mass produced products that are churned out and chucked out every day almost defy restoration – when they’re broke they’re junk – precisely because they were made to be replaced. The best of mid-century modern design was produced in an effort to afford the average person fine quality products, beautifully designed and well built. Products people could maintain for a lifetime and then hand on, freeing people from the need to endlessly update which is what drains the purse and our souls. I won’t be paying four figures for a chair because it undermines what I value, just as I won’t be paying three figures for the knock-off. I’ll keep seeking out the gems that reward my restoration efforts and celebrate the skill and and craftsmanship of their makers. This world is sinking in stuff and I’m not sure the argument that ‘it looks nice’ is enough to keep ploughing more rubbish into the ground or to support industries that are exploiting poorer people in the manufacturing of garbage. Support craftsmanship.

  129. Mark E. on 07/26/2012:

    So some of these elite designers say knockoffs are bad for the industry and for consumers? I completely disagree because we’re talking about two different demographics. Those that can only buy less expensive knockoffs and those that can afford the real thing. It is like two different segments of the same industry that can completely exists together. When I was younger with less money to spend I bought the so called knockoffs but now I’ve gradually bought more original pieces. But at least I had the option to start out small and cheap. These elite designers would like to severely limit your choices (and their competition) for the benefit of the themselves. I guess that is human nature but they should be smart enough to rise above it.

  130. Simone on 07/27/2012:

    P.s. I remember running into a chair by Mark Newson, I always liked that chair, turns out the parts I thought were made of metal were made of silver-painted MDF and it was chipped. Such a deception and disappointment. So if you want that chair do yourself a favor and buy the ripoff.

  131. Monique on 07/27/2012:

    One question that comes to mind for me is, What is the difference between licensed reproduction constructed with low quality or inexpensive materials like plastic and a “knockoff”?

  132. emily @ thirtyeight20 on 07/27/2012:

    I am squarely in your camp. Buy quality, buy used, buy what you like, buy what you can afford. With these powers combined, I’ve managed to furnish my house with a mix of valuable/”designer” and knockoff pieces that I love and didn’t put me in a vortex of credit card debt. Pretty sure no one can convince me this isn’t a good approach for an average consumer.

  133. MN on 07/27/2012:

    “Mass produced iconic designs originally made to be affordable functional pieces for mid-range consumers now being sold at exorbitant fetish style prices after their designers are long deceased seems disingenuous.”
    EXACTLY! The point of modern design in many ways. Thanks as always for your genius.

  134. Jax on 07/27/2012:

    Sorry if anyone’s already said something similar, but I didn’t have time to read more than half the comments here.
    If everyone was completely rigid about not making knock-offs or “tribute” furniture pieces, we’d be without, at least, half of the wonderful vintage pieces we all collect and own. We wouldn’t have the great Lane or other American ‘knock-offs’ of the mid-century Danish furniture, for example.
    I love the plethora of tribute pieces out there — like the Czech spin on Bauhaus, etc. Like Morgan, I wouldn’t want a boring, uptight names-only home environment. I love that it’s a mix of no-names and pseudo-names and maybe 1 or 2 real-names. I equally love the creativity of those who tried to make their own versions of stuff they loved.

    Nowadays, I understand our world is pumped full of made-in-China knockoffs of Arne Jacobsen and Eames and Saarinen. Exhibit A: http://www.whiteonwhite.com/white.html
    They generally look good from a distance but have the typical thin, precarious quality of a shoddy Ikea piece. They ain’t fooling nobody. So if someone wants to buy their own much more humble version of an Eames lounger for thousands less, why the hell not? I really don’t think they’re the consumer taking business away from the actual market of DWR, etc.

    In short, I totally agree with Morgan. Thanks for cutting all the sanctimonious bull crap.

  135. Isabelle on 07/28/2012:

    Just 3 thoughts that I would like to jug in:

    1. I find that the sad fact of knock-offs is that they are most of the time disguising themselves and trying to deliberately deceive the buyer by not claiming that they are “vintage-fakes” (at least here in Europe that is the case). Thereby, one loses trust in the “vintage-original” (happened to me with Arne Jacobsen lamps, Magnusson chairs and Georg Jensen jewelry).

    2. I am missing in the comments here some thought on the human side of the production of these furnitures beside only looking at the quality of the piece or the carbon footprint. Isn’t the fact that a Scandinavian piece of furniture is made under good living conditions part of the beauty of the object?

    3. I am bored by many of the design furniture companies only producing their star pieces of the past and doing so little to support development of new designs (or supporting bad design) . This is where the money for their super-prized items should go; this is part of their heritage and not only the production of “cash-cows”.

    Thanks for taking “the bull by the horns” and sharing your views in the article and here.

  136. Isabelle on 07/28/2012:

    … sorry forgot a point:

    4. Design-original pieces are not necessarily = good quality. Some companies have reduced on quality but not price in the production of their masterpieces. I could just scream each time I look at my Danish cutlery.

  137. Creede on 07/31/2012:

    Dear Morgan,

    Please come back to Utah soon. I have a nice bottle of Scotch that will guarantee a highly engaging intellectual conversation about this will occur. Last one to hit the floor wins.


  138. Greta on 08/05/2012:

    DWR irritates the crap out of me!
    Their prices are insane and not for the common man.
    The original intent of modern design was to make good design, beautiful design, affordable for everyone.
    It was made to be enjoyed by everyone, and not the people who don’t bat an eyelash at dropping $250 for a folding chair.
    I meanwhile, am pretty stoked when I find original, vintage, folding chairs at the thrift store for $2.50.
    They are well made, and have a quality that has stood the test of time–they’re like 50 years old.
    Do you think the DWR folding chair will be around in 50 years?
    DWR is so full of itself now.
    Most everything in our house is vintage–we searched for it.
    And I don’t really care who made it.
    I just care that I love it.
    Your blog is so great.

  139. Alida on 08/07/2012:

    Can I get a big fucking AMEN? Thanks to everyone. This kind of conversation is therapy for me. I’m sick of status, I’m sick of feeling like everyone but me can afford the designer shit. I love the crazy stuff I find in thrift stores and genuinely appreciate the value in finding something that is one of a kind-be it crappy student pottery or whatever. I’m so happy to hear the voices of those who feel the same way.

  140. Melissa de la Fuente on 08/09/2012:

    I know I am way late & a dollar short but, I just wanted to say, I completely agree. 100%. With everything you said. 🙂 Done.

  141. James on 08/12/2012:

    Happy someone has finally said this out loud.

  142. vahid on 08/13/2012:

    “Isn’t the fact that a Scandinavian piece of furniture is made under good living conditions part of the beauty of the object?”

    scandinavian good living conditions = subsidized by hundreds of years of third world slave labor and exploitation.

    sorry dudes, no free pass for design-y white people, i’m sending my money to chinese people who need it.

  143. vahid on 08/13/2012:

    i have a bunch of MCM i got off my family and grandparents but i’m not above buying a knockoff eames chair because i’m pretty sure the eames would have been okay with a teacher on 35k salary settling for a fake shell chair

    y’all should read the story where charles talks about how in india the poorest people eat off of tree leaves, the richest people eat off of gold plates in the shape of tree leaves, and the wisest people eat off of tree leaves like the poor.

    “Isn’t the fact that a Scandinavian piece of furniture is made under good living conditions part of the beauty of the object?”

    scandinavian good living conditions = subsidized by hundreds of years of third world slave labor and exploitation. sorry dudes, no free pass for design-y white people, i’m sending my money to chinese people who need it.

    also anybody on their high horse about their licensed furniture has their head way up their ass if they don’t realize that the knock-off market actually *supports* the licensed market and not the other way around.

  144. Celine on 08/14/2012:

    I totally agree with you, Megan.

    Yes, I would like an authentic Saarinen marble top dining table someday, but until I’ve paid off my mortgage and can buy one with a clear conscience, I do need something to eat my dinner on.

  145. Celine on 08/14/2012:

    *of course I meant Morgan, not Megan. Please excuse my pre-lunch dyslexia.

  146. Amanda on 08/15/2012:

    One of the dangers seems to be the inability to see value in things, whether it’s original designs or approximations made to achieve a certain look. They both have a place.

  147. Kasey M. on 08/16/2012:

    I couldn’t have said it better. Fantastic (reasoned) perspective here.

  148. Francine on 08/17/2012:

    So basically, if you want it, you should be able to have it, because you want it. Never mind that some factory in China is stealing the designs of others and making knock-offs far more cheaply than the original manufacturer ever could no way could the Eames chairs be made in the US and sold for $155 today. And yet this same generation of people protest that there are no jobs in the US, want free health care, and so on. Can’t have cheap consumer goods and high-paying manufacturing jobs at the same time.

  149. Ann Marie on 08/18/2012:

    I have a couple of knock-offs that are well made and look great, but the vast majority of my mid-century treasure is from thrift and consignment stores, sometimes with a little DIY thrown in. My stuff is well made, beautiful and much of it seems indestructible – quality like this can’t be easily found in new stuff at any price. Plus I know I can sell any of it in a minute on eBay or Craigslist. If you have a good eye and patience you can live in coolness on a budget. I can afford more expensive stuff but why would I do that?!

  150. tess on 08/18/2012:

    “Mass produced iconic designs originally made to be affordable functional pieces for mid-range consumers now being sold at exorbitant fetish style prices after their designers are long deceased seems disingenuous.” YES! So well put. You are my hero!

  151. Andrew on 08/27/2012:

    I can’t afford anything vintage.. I put all my money into Solyndra. Now I’m broke.

    I understand the article. It’s like buying a LV bag off the guy on a street corner, but people buying the crap knockoffs aren’t going to buy a $5k chair anyways… So I don’t really think they are losing much business.

  152. Absolute Condos on 08/29/2012:

    You are SUCH a breath of fresh air.
    I’m glad someone like you is out there voicing my opinion in a much sassier way than I ever could.

  153. There at Dawn on 10/20/2012:

    Great viewpoint by OP and great discussion…read all the comments .BTW @Kimb: furniture can be and is art ! (unless I misunderstood your comment) That’s why museums (and not Home Depot) have retrospectives of great designers !
    I live in France and have been collecting MCM for 40+ years. First in the US, then here in France. Obviously I got in on the ground floor price wise so luckily I have a lot or original pieces, yet all of those were bought at yard sales and flea markets in the US and then in France.
    In France, knockoffs are strictly illegal ! Thus “licensed” or the real deal are your only choices. Firstly I think “licensed’ is total bullshit, as although I understand the morality of “intellectual property’ it’s still a knockoff – signed and numbered – what’s the difference ? It still did not pass the inspection of Le Corbu or Jean Prouvé as it left the atelier !
    I am old, but still get up at 5am and am at the French flea markets in the sticks of France at dawn, and can still find Prouvé, Perriand, Thonet, Mategot, etc from non dealers who are getting rid of their parents or grandparents furniture. OK, not everyday, and sometimes it has taken me years to find a piece I couldn’t live without. But, now that I’ve named names, only because I know them, it’s because I learned them after I bought something I couldn’t live without because it APPEALED to me. I never once turned it upside down looking for a name or number. This is how I learned the names and found out that I was lucky. More often than not I payed less than 10 euros for anything I bought. I also never bought from anyone who had a tablecloth on their table – thus a dealer.
    This brings me to my last point, dealers from Paris come down to around where I live, they buy something for 10 euros, they take it back to Paris and mark it up to 100 euros, then a dealer from the US comes in and ships it back to the US and then marks it up 10 more times to 1000 dollars. Sure they have overhead and have to make a living, but maybe we should consider why they mark things up so high. I look at one famous US website and laugh at their prices, they are so ridiculously high. Whar are they smoking ?
    I say support your thrift shops, yard sales, Goodwills etc.
    But don’t get in front of me here at a flea market in France, as I still have enough energy to get to an Alto if need be !
    Most of all, have fun collecting and preserving the “art of design” in your own home !

  154. Shelly Head on 02/02/2013:

    I have inherited a set of Cherner Chairs (side & arm) and a table. i would love to keep them as they are truly super cool but they simply dont work for my family. Would love to sell them if anyone is interested. email smhead@comcast.net.

  155. Flower on 03/20/2013:


    I just finished reading EVERY single comment here and can’t remember the last time I read every comment to a post- like never. I think that everyone, myself included, would love to own the real thing. But if my best friend was thinking of buying a designer lounger that would max out her credit card and put her in debt, I’d help her find a well-designed, more affordable alternative. C’mon, there’s a lot of damn chairs out there. I own a replica Eames lounger. I never thought that I would own a fake or real one but on one of my thrift shopping road trips with my good friend, I saw a man carrying it outside to place in front of the shop. I asked how much and he said $5. AMAZING. Then I disassembled it and managed to squeeze it into the trunk of my Corolla. There it traveled with us wedged between like 50 bags of thrift shop finds. I’m sitting in it now while writing this. I have had it for 6 years. Thanks for reminding me of that. Buy something because it pleases you.

    Your blog is great. I just discovered it today from a random Pinterest link. Keep doin’ you boo.


  156. Charles DSR on 05/01/2013:

    Charles and Ray Eames designs are my favorite chairs design. I appreciate the author for sharing this useful stuff.

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