Friday, 4 November 2011

A real replica: Herman vs Matt

Remember that post about replica furniture chain Matt Blatt being taken to court by US furniture brand Herman Miller over the use of the Eames name. It seems that the matter is more or less resolved.

The latest Australian Design Review wrote an article yesterday about the resolution to the case. According to that article, Matt Blatt and Herman Miller have now settled the matter, however the terms of the settlement  are confidential.  I wonder how much that settlement cost Matt Blatt?

You can read the article here.
A real Eames chair.
image from here

Briefly, it said that Herman Miller were pleased with the "radical changes to Matt Blatt's website that were implemented immediately after" legal proceedings commenced. Herman Miller claimed Matt Blatt's website was misleading consumers as to the authenticity of copies of certain Eames chairs that were not clearly identified as replicas.

So, I went to check out what those "radical changes" were and looked at the description for the Replica Eames Lounge Chair.

"This is a Matt Blatt replica of the original design.
Designed in 1956 by Charles and Ray Eames, the Eames Lounge Chair & Ottoman epitomised the architectural style of the Modern era. 
This item is as faithful a reproduction of the original as you can get. So much so, that even the seat on the ottoman is interchangeable with the seat on the chair, so that the cushions can be rotated for longer wear. Unlike cheaper imitations, the base on our ottoman is fixed and has 4 stars as opposed to 5. It is constructed from cast aluminium (only the lounge chair swivels)."

Isn't the whole replica market fascinating? The jostling for supremacy in the replica market must be fierce given that Matt Blatt is positioning their version of the original design as better quality than other "cheaper imitations".

The legal action hardly seems like it was worth the bother, but I guess Herman Miller need to protect their brand... I really think they would have been better off investing their money into a new designer with new ideas. Design, after all, must keep on evolving.

Furniture correctly labelled as real, authentic replicas of an original design is a very small victory.

a Matt Blatt replica of an Eames chair
image from here


  1. Herman Miller had to settle because their claim was fatally flawed (at law, that is, not morally).

    That is why the Matt Blatt 'concession' is so pathetic.

    I still say the quality is poor compared to their competitors.

  2. I'm no authority at all on this subject but found your post interesting as I have wondered about how the original designers have viewed replica makers.

  3. Interesting outcome, thanks for the follow up!

  4. I feel quite conflicted over this issue as the replica market doesn't seem to be fighting fair. However, my budget says Woo-hoo! We love the replica market!! Clearly, I have no integrity:) Hope all is well in your lovely, beautifully painted corner of the world. Meredy xo

  5. So good to hear the follow up, so often these things go unreported and you are left wondering what ever happened. I agree with Meredy..xx Katherine


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