Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Design Vigilantism Part 2

I received the most interesting comment yesterday on the Design Vigilantism post I wrote regarding choosing replica furniture versus original. It's a bit spammy, but interesting nonetheless.

We, the Authentic Design Alliance, were mentioned in that SMH article (don't worry, we didn't slash those chairs!). There are other reasons why buying counterfeit furniture and consumer products may not be the best option.

High-end designer furniture is usually made with infinite care and quality materials, so it'll last you generations. Knock-offs often last only a couple of years or so, meaning your money is wasted and you contribute to the glut of worn-out and broken products that end up at the rubbish tip. Even if the materials are recycled, you're wasting more resources than necessary in breaking down the products.

And an outrageously interesting study recently found that buying counterfeit products may increase your willingness to lie, cheat and be overall deceitful. 

If you don't believe us, check out our blog (www.authenticdesign.com.au/blog). 

There's links to the original articles there, plus other posts and information on the site for anyone who's interested in maintaining original design in furniture and beyond. 

Feel free to add your comments to any of the blog posts- we'd love to hear your thoughts, even if they're the opposite of our own views. 

What do you think about the throw-away line on the outrageously interesting study?

Well, I had to read it for myself. The study was a series of honesty tests conducted on a large sample of women who were given either real or fake sunglasses to wear. The results revealed that the women who wore the fake sunnies were more likely to lie and cheat...The conclusion being:

“Faking it” makes us feel like phonies and cheaters on the inside, and this alienated, counterfeit “self” leads to cheating and cynicism in the real world."

You can read the original article here.

It all sounds like a load of codswallop to me, but then I'm no scientist. Just a bored blogger, who got a good chuckle out of it.

So, my dear replica-owning readers, tell me, have you noticed a marked difference in your behaviour? Are you stretching the truth since buying the replica Tolix chair or are you stealing money from your children's piggy bank since owning the "knock-off" Ghost chair?

Go on, be honest...

image from here

And to my non-replica owning readers, would a study like this influence your buying decision at all?

Anyway, my advice to the Authentic Design Alliance, if they are looking for people sympathetic to their cause, is that they are more likely to catch flies with honey than with vinegar. Telling people they will lie more if they buy replica furniture is kind of polarising.

I certainly wouldn't be using this study in my public relations drive to the uninitiated. Save it for those already recruited to the Alliance.


  1. Honestly Anita, for some reason I struggle with this. I would rather go without than carry a counterfeit handbag or similar but I'm ok with my reproduction Bourgie lamp. I don't know why? And as for more likely to be deceitful or lie, well, I am honest to a fault. I just don't believe in lying - though maybe I am lying to myself with that pesky lamp??
    Ahhh..it's all too difficult!!!

  2. As a lying, cheating, replica owning bitch I must also add two faced to that list of adjectives because I own expensive originals as well. A design slut (oops sorry for the florid language) is probably my correct title. My problem is that I'm a socialist so I believe that design should belong to the masses and a $10 000 egg chair is not of or for the masses. Come the revolution the high end furniture purveyors will be the first against the wall and we will all run amok in Corporate Culture or DeDeCe. As for Space ... that needs a whole uprising of its own. Summary of this rant .... I've forgotten. Oh yes, being elitist is grand but replica is the opium of the masses.

  3. Wow, I don't believe my knock offs have caused me to cheat and lie. What a very strange concept! Michelle

  4. I haven't noticed any change in my behaviour. I am dileriously happy with my replica Marcel Breuer 'Wassily' chairs I coveted since I was 15 doing art at school, and have been the proud owner of said chairs, in red leather, for the last 4 years!!!

    Trivia note - Breuer named his chairs after his friend, the artist, Wassily Kandinsky.

    So not only do I not notice any change in my behaviour, I am a font of knowledge on the history of the originals, and proud to divulge it!!


  5. I'm a huge proponent of the free market, and I believe people should be able to buy whatever the hell they want to buy - whether that be a cheap replica or a design classic.

    Further, there's a 'lie', and then there's a 'lie' ... my replica Eames rocker has no influence on whether or not I tell my children Santa is coming this year, or that it was the Tooth Fairy who flushed their teeth down the toilet.

    Really, let the consumer make up their own mind ... if their imitation 'whatever' falls apart in six-months, they're more likely to buy a more expensive piece next time.

    And despite my political difference with Mid-Century Jo, I agree with her on the high-end stores, I was willing to spend money, a few years ago at Space, and was treated with indifference ... so bought my chairs elsewhere.

    So, furniture is less about high-falutin design ideology and more about practicality, now'days.

    My morals are not influenced by my sofa.

  6. Oh that is hilarious... absolutely hilarious! I can't print what I am thinking.... only because cyberspace is forever! Great post. A-M xx

  7. He He He!!! Thats crazy, I am definately going to purchase designer rip offs when it comes to furniture pieces, not because Im a lier or a cheat, I just believe in living within my means. Dont they say "imitation is a form of flattery"!!!

  8. I think it's just a load of BS. Only a select number of people can afford originals of a product. Those buying knockoffs don't affect the luxury market one bit as they never would have bought an original anyway. Someone who has the money will seldom buy a knockoff. They want the real thing. They want the best quality they can afford. Also, it isn't like the copies of furniture have fake "Philippe Starke" labels or anything. It's part of the design world whether it be furnishings, jewelry or fashion. Can you imagine if a style was never allowed to be duplicated.?

    I do agree with him/her about crappy goods cycling back into the landfill, but that happens whether or not it's a designer knockoff of a Walmart special. Not everyone can afford to buy a beautifully handcrafted heirloom piece.


  9. Hmmm, yes. As mentioned over in the other post, I have real issues with their repeated use of the term 'counterfeit'. Most replicas that you and I purchase are NOT counterfeit - they are simply designs for which patents have expired, and no-one is passing them off as the 'real' thing. It's not in the same league as buying fake licensed Gucci sunglasses or a counterfeit handbag in Chinatown - those items are illegally produced, whereas replicas (in the vast majority of cases) are not.

    Yes, most of us would prefer to buy 'original' furniture if we could afford it. But the fact is that most of us can't - and we're not doing anything 'deceitful' by purchasing legally produced furniture on which a patent has expired. That's like saying that I should feel bad in my job when I reproduce an art work in a book when the copyright has expired 70 years after the artist's death - there's nothing to feel guilty about, because it's completely legal.

    I also agree with Razmataz about the whole landfill issue as well. Yes, these things end up as landfill - but if we don't buy them we're going to be buying whatever else we can afford at Ikea or wherever, so it makes no difference at all.

  10. You certainly know how to stir things up - Good on you, it has been interesting reading your post and these comments. I have to agree with kyliept and Chania and most of the others actually... ;-)

  11. yes i have a knock off but i have to save that knock offs to take the uniqueness out of these pieces.

  12. If I only bought authentic designer furniture, I would be more likely to knock off my kids' piggy bank to buy groceries or lie and cheat about the extravagant blow outs on my Visa card. If I did buy a knock off it would probably keep me honest and, after all, we are just talking about something to park your high end on.
    It is always the extremists in any organisation that give normal people the heebies and, historically, cause quite a bit of trouble. Perhaps some of the comments and "studies" of anti-consumerism groups should be noted as well.

  13. Such an interesting issue. All I know is that those people make me feel like urgently getting onto Matt Blatt and buying a fake ghost chair. Yes, that means I am not persuaded.

    Insulting people's intelligence is never a good way to win people over to a cause.

  14. The extension of their logic is that the wealthy, who can most afford the genuine articles, are by nature less willing to "lie, cheat and be overall deceitful."

    Do any of us believe this to be the case?

  15. Hello!

    First, we apologise if anyone has perceived our comments to be offensive or insulting. This was definitely not our intention when we offered this information and commentary, and we cannot account for the reactions of every individual. If you are uncomfortable with our comments, feel free to contact us through our website, as above.

    We're not trying to persuade or fool anybody into joining our cause by playing upon their fears. But we do have a position and a view and believe original design should be celebrated and encouraged, and we think it's fantastic that these discussions on sites like this are even happening. Our blog covers a lot of different topics and looks at a lot of different news stories, studies and legislation to do with copying and designing. We offer the information and our view, and make sure there's links so people can access the original sources and make up their own minds.

    It's true- if a patent has expired or an artist has been deceased for 70 years, reproducing their work is legal. But the law and ethics don't always coincide, and it becomes an individual choice whether such action is ethical or not.

    And when looking at scientific studies you should always take into consideration the limitations of the research methodologies: these women were in an unusual situation- a controlled environment- so who knows if those findings could translate to everyday life? This is why researchers and commentators like us always tentatively qualify with words like 'may'. And a study on apparel may not have any relation to furniture, or art, or website stealing, or anything else. Scientific studies simply don't have the scope to incorporate everything, and most studies suggest things and leave space for further studies to elaborate and confirm or oppose trends.

    If you are looking for a counter-argument, try the UK Professor David Wall who views knock-offs as beneficial. His study can be found here: http://www.managingip.com/Article/266471/Interview-David-Wall-on-fashion-fakes.html

    If you don't want to buy the article, try the summary from The Daily Mail http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1307184/Fake-designer-labels-good-industry-says-Home-Office-advisor.html

    We do find the study 'outrageously interesting', as much as we find most studies and news on these issues interesting and thought-provoking. And apologies for the 'spaminess' of our comment- we didn't realise you didn't like links to other blogs/websites, but in a professional capacity thought it best that we are transparent in who we are and offer access to more information if people should wish to follow us up.

    We look forward to hearing more comments on this issue.

    The Authentic Design Alliance.

  16. Design Alliance, since you are discussing 'research' methodologies (being a scientist myself - although in biochemistry... not design) I am interested in the 'scientific/research methodologies' used in this 'scientific study'.. n = ?, randomised? crossover? Doesn't appear to be 'scientific' enough to draw any conclusion to argue about. Science = reproducible results given the same set of circumstances. Science is also about obtaining a result that is statistically significant and eliminating the element of bias (placebo effect). In the event the scientific 'methodology' is not performed in a controlled, randomised, double blinded manner, it has absolutely no merit and you can never associate the words 'scientific method' with it. Maybe the word 'poll' might be more appropriate. A-M xx

  17. Wow such interesting comments and points of view. I have a mixed viewpoint myself. There is a big part of me that although I might not be able to afford the designer original would rather go without altogether than to have a replica. And yet I agree with Kyliept when she talks about the difference between a replica of an item for which a patent has expired, and is therefore legally reproduced and a counterfeit or fake item which is still within it's patent, like the fake Ghost chairs. These I do have an issue with. Personally I'd rather go without the fake, and have something upcycled and second hand.

  18. @A-M


    The study was conducted by 3 scientists: one from the University of North Carolina, another from Harvard Business School, and the third from Duke University.

    As a scientist, perhaps you have access or subscription to the Wiley-Interscience database, or the academic journal Psychological Science? This was the journal in which this study was published- you could find details on the methodology, research and findings there.

    The Authentic Design Alliance.

  19. maybe...if one buys furniture with "design" in mind equating to Who Made This, i.e. "it's a Couch X", then one presumably considers "design" to be important, significant, etc. If one buys anything that looks like an original Couch X -- fake, knockoff, lookalike (it's really irrelevant) -- and passes it off as (or tries to do so) the Real Thing, then maybe that individual is one who is more likely to lie, cheat, etc.

    Makes sense, really, as those who practice deceit practice, well, deceit...

    As for those who buy replica because they like the "originals" but for whatever reason do not buy the originals, again, if there's some "meaning" behind it, it comes across (to me, at least) as odd thinking.

    Of course, I buy because 1) it works (is practical), 2) it is of good quality. I could really care less who made it..


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