Are any concepts or designs really truly original? Or have they subconsciously been adapted from something previously seen or heard? A design idea that was encouraged by something totally unrelated; a stimulus or an inspiration. As Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, Hungarian biochemist, 1937 Nobel Prize for Medicine once said, “Discovery consists of looking at the same thing as everyone else and thinking something different.” In the world of design there is the infamous title of designer inspired products called ‘knock-offs’. Many of the design classics of the 20th century have been reproduced to mimic the same look. Some pieces are almost exact duplicates – reproductions, some pieces are parallel-inspired from the original. Whether you own an original or knock-off it almost always comes down to price. Is one any more correct to own than the other…..that is a very subjective answer? I own a number of original design classics but I also own some that are not. When we renovated our media room I would have really liked to have an Eames Lounge Chair for the space but the $7000 price tag was a little prohibitive. Subsequently I settled for an Eames Lounge Chair-inspired version which I love just as much and looks just as good. An example of a knock off that many people may not even now about is the Series 7 Chair by Arne Jacobsen. Originally designed in 1955 the curved plywood chair has been copied so many times that it has become commonplace. In fact the other day when I was at the grocery store buying bread and milk I could have purchased a Series 7 Chair knock-off for $39.99 at the same time!
The well-known IKEA classic Poäng chair (shown on the right) designed in 1976 looks very similar to the Alvar Aalto Lounge Chair 406 (shown on the left) designed in 1936. You be the judge – is there really a right or a wrong??