In the world of interior design, there is a lot of debate about replica furniture. Some believe it is unethical to produce replicas. Others think it is okay to replicate iconic designs when you aren’t claiming credit for it. Or, when you are not selling it as an original piece.
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Consequently, for people with a low budget and great taste, replica furniture is a great way to have it all.
You may have seen the iconic pieces of loose furniture by renowned designers and architects. These include statement seats and other furniture items. The Scandinavians and Americans, from the ’50s till the early ’80s produced some of the most popular designs.
To clarify, let us dig a little more into the history of modern furniture.
History of Modern Furniture
The latter part of the 19th century marks the advent of modern furniture.
For instance, modern furniture is different from the Victorian and Renaissance styles. Comparatively, they are not elaborate but more functional.
The modern furniture was a product of simplicity, versatility, and style. It was created in the industrial era when the focus had shifted to function and practicality.
After that, the architects and designers used different materials. To create new pieces of furniture, they used economical material. At that time, you will see a lot of experimenting with designs.
In modern furniture, you will see clean and simple designs.
According to him:
“I wanted to clear up the slum of legs. I wanted to make the chair all one thing again.”
The Eames Lounge Chair by Charles and Ray Eames is a timeless piece. You may have seen it in movies and screenplays. Egg chair is another state-of-the-art chair by Arne Jacobsen.
The design of modern furniture is a great “win-win”. First, it provides both aesthetics. Secondly, it offers great functionality. In short, futuristic designs became more popular and are still in trend today.
History of Replica Furniture
In the mid-2000s, the copyrights protection of many popular interior designs were lost. Therefore many manufacturers and companies started producing replica furniture. Most replica furniture manufacturers produce replicas of the iconic pieces of furniture.
Certainly, the companies in the UK have ruled the replica furniture industry. Compared to the rest of Europe, the copyright laws are different in the UK. They allow manufacturers to reproduce and sell replica furniture.
These companies use the same designs to produce replicas. However, there can be differences in the material used or the dimensions of the material.
Compared to original products, replica furniture is sold at very low prices. To reduce production costs, most replica furniture companies operate online only. This saves showroom costs.
Moreover, some companies order furniture from foreign companies. They produce replicas at much cheaper prices.
As I mentioned, the Replica Furniture design is the same as the original iconic pieces.
Therefore, the replicas are very popular and sought after. However, there was another change in the landscape.
Two English companies Ikon M and Infurn shut down due to financial constraints. This gave the Chinese the chance to enter and fill the gap in the market for replica furniture.
Consequently, hundreds of factories in China started producing replica furniture. They provided mass production of iconic designs at very cheap prices.
As a result, to cut the cost, some of the companies started producing low-quality replicas.
During these days, when many companies are reproducing iconic furniture designs, it is difficult to find one with quality. Only some companies in Italy can guarantee to provide premium quality replicas. So they reproduce furniture with high-quality materials and craftsmanship.
The Most Iconic Interior Designers & Architects
Let us now take a look at the designers and architects who left a mark in the world of design. Their designs are very popular. Many manufacturers replicate these designs. That is to say, they are high in demand in the market.
Chaux-de-Fonds, 1887 – Cap Martin, 1965
Le Corbusier is one of the most well-known architects of the 20th century.
He realized that the new times needed a new approach and new methods of manufacturing. Consequently, his approach centered on both function and aesthetics.
Firstly, there were new trends in society. Secondly, the materials and methods of production had changed a lot. Therefore, Le focused on a new approach to designing and manufacturing.
He revamped the existing conventions in architecture and furniture. As a result, he created exquisite pieces that were functional and artistic at the same time.
All seats from Le Corbusier are still regarded as a breakthrough in the world of interior design.
Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe
Aquisgrana, 1886 – Chicago, 1969
Mies van der Rohe is one of the most prestigious interior designers of the 20th century. He is well-known for his chair designs.
You will find simple and functional chairs and luxurious and comfortable ones. His unique designs have dominated the world of design.
For instance, the cantilever chairs are the best example of simple chairs. Likewise, the deluxe Barcelona chair is another feather in his cap. His designs rank equal with the likes of Charles Eames.
In his designs, you will find great attention to detail. Moreover, he focuses on creating a feeling of space. This reflects his approach to architecture.
In addition to all his creations, the Barcelona Chair is a classic known for its luxurious design. It is also regarded as the status symbol of this time.
Pecs, 1902 – New York, 1981
The pioneer of tubular chair design, Marcel Breuer was a prestigious designer.
In early 1925, he invented a new system of making the frames of stools, chairs, and tables. His system focuses on using bent steel tubes for the structures of chairs.
The first chair of this series was the ‘Wassily’ chair. Certainly, it is still in great demand and is considered a classic in the world of interior design.
The ‘Wassily’ chair presented a great spatial solution and aesthetic influences. However, he shifted his focus. Marcel emphasized the practical value of the furniture. After that, he became interested in the standardization and mass-production of furniture.
Kirkkonummi, 1910 – Ann Arbor, 1961
Son of a celebrated Finnish architect, Saarinen is another famous designer. He studied in Paris at the Académie de la Grande Chaumiére.
Saarinen also went to Yale University in New Haven and Connecticut.
Eero Saarinen collaborated with Charles Eames and made many advanced and award-winning furniture designs. The designs were exhibited at the “Organic Design in Home Furnishings” competition. It is a famous competition at the Museum of Modern Art in 1940.
He also designed may exclusive pieces for Knoll International. For instance, The terminal at John F. Kennedy Airport, New York is one of his most popular creations.
Brownswood, 1878 – Paris, 1976
Eileen Gray was an imaginative interior designer who revolutionized the world of furniture. Between WWI and WWII, she worked in Paris. In the late 1920s and early 30s, Gray made prototypes of many chairs.
Her designs focus on functionality and aesthetics. She designed a chair with upholstery on the chromate frame of tubular metal.
Torino, 1899 – Milano, 2002
Gabriele Mucchi was a professor in the School of Art in Berlin. Above all during the 1930s, Mucchi was one of the biggest proponents of the Realist Movement in Italy. In that time, there were other prestigious architects like:
He worked with Bottini to plan the QT8 in Milan. He worked as a teacher and as a painter.
His first exhibition was in 1983 in Berlin and Moscow. This followed another successful exhibition in Magdeburg (East Germany) in 1987.
San Lorenzo di Arzene, 1915 – Barto, USA, 1978
After leaving Italy at the age of 15, Bertoia found his passion for painting and sculpture. He joined the Detroit School of Arts and Crafts, and then the Cranbrook Academy of Arts.
Bertoia started designing furniture in the 1940s. Harry designed chairs with sculptures. His unique style gave them a metallic and colorful quality. Therefore, they are still famous all over the world.
Pirnitz, 1870 – Wien, 1956
Josef Hoffman was an Austrian architect and designer.
For a short time, he worked with Otto Wagner in his studio as his pupil (1895). Hoffman also worked as the co-founder in Vienna Secession (1987) and Wiener Werkstätte (1903).
In his work, you can see the influence of Wagner as well as Charles Rennie Mackintosh. He takes inspiration of rationalism for Wagner. And, from Mackintosh, he borrows a rectilinear and geometrical style.
For instance, at Wiener Werkstätte, you will view the best of Hoffman’s work. His designs have individuality and craftsmanship. In his work, he stays true to materials and functionalism. These are the dominant features of his work.
Utrecht, 1888 – Utrecht 1964
In 1918, Rietveld designed his popular Red/Blue chair. The red/blue chair was an innovative idea. He used machinery and linear materials to produce spatial chairs.
The chair shows a unique geometrical design paired with vivid colors. You will see a prominent influence of De Stijl painters. Certainly, it also shows the artist’s inspiration from the Berlin chair and the Military series.
In Rietveld’s work, you can see aesthetics with a smart production. That is to say, he made beautiful economic designs.
Los Angeles, 1904 – New York 1988
Isamu Noguchi is an American sculptor. He had the privilege to study under Brancusi in Paris. His father was a Japanese poet, and these roots dictated his style.
The Noguchi style takes inspiration from European modernism and Japanese traditionalism. In his works, he couples contrasting elements. Like, roughness and smoothness, and geometry and animation.
Above all, he used all kinds of materials like stone, wood, and metal. Noguchi coupled natural materials with his unique style to design exquisite pictures. His work gained popularity in sculpture, abstract sculpture, and architecture.
Noguchi abstract pieces adorned architecture. For instance, the red cubes in the Marine Midland Bank (New York), and the entrance of the Museum of Modern Art (Tokyo).
Other things that he is famous for are playgrounds and gardens with stone sculptures. For example, the Unesco Garden in Paris, and Mexico City.
In addition, he also designed amazing stage sets and props for the Marth Graham Dance Company. Noguchi’s list of contributions consists of modernist classics. You will see home decorations like glass-top coffee tables and paper lanterns.
Hartford, 1908 – New York, 1986
George Nelson was a modernist. He is popular in the fields of interior, industrial and exhibition design. A Yale graduate, Nelson gained popularity as a writer on design. He wrote for Architectural Forum, Interiors, and Fortune.
During 1945, in Michigan, Nelson joined the Herman Miller Furniture Company. There, he served as a head designer and developed an innovative line of furniture.
In addition, he also commissioned the designs of other famous designers :
- Isamu Noguchi
- Charles Eames
- Herman Miller
Moreover, he collaborated with R. Buckminster Fuller for creating many fabulous projects.
Some of his most significant contributions include:
- bubble lamps
- ball clock
- marshmallow sofa
- pole-supported wall-storage system.
Charles Rennie Mackintosh
Glasgow, 1868 – London, 1928
Charles trained at the Glasgow School of Art. Charles Rennie Mackintosh worked with John Hutchinson.
His work shows the shift from the influence of Art Noveau to geometric Modernist purism. Mackintosh’s designs include some of the most incredible pieces of British furniture.
Purmerend, 1899 – Zürich, 1986
Mart Stam is well-reputed for designing chairs with unique designs. However, his popularity rests exclusively on one design – the S33. The S 33 is the first tubular steel, cantilever chair.
How he stumbled on the idea when designing a chair for his wife. He wanted to make a chair with straight lines of tubes and gas fitter joints.
The innovative idea became popular and introduced new methods of designing chairs.
Bremen, 1900 – Stuttgart, 1990
This designer is known for his numerous incredible objects. His creations have become a part of every home decoration.
Some designs of him include everyday items. Like, the Max and Moritz salt and pepper holders, or a unique ink bottle with a bent neck.
In 1954 Wagenfeldopened a research laboratory. The laboratory focused on manufacturing industrial design projects. He worked with glass to design fascinating plates, vases, lamps, and glasses.
Wagenfeld also experimented with other materials. This included things like metals to make tables, candlesticks, and hardware.
He has written various articles and books to express his ideology of design. Wagenfeld has also received many prizes for his contribution to the world of design.
Benefits of Replica Furniture
Replica furniture is in demand for its many benefits.
Therefore, it is a great choice for people with a low budget to enjoy the designs. The state-of-the-art items are very expensive.
Hence, it is a great way to get the best interior for your space. This way you can enjoy the designs not spending thousands of dollars.
At the same time, it saves people from shipping costs. For people all over the world, it is also a great way to get a unique piece of furniture. And, they can get it without worrying about shipping costs.
Moreover, you may not find the perfect fit in designer furniture. However, reproductions can provide a better space solution. Without compromising on design, you can enjoy designer furniture.
Tips to Recognize High-quality Replica Furniture
A lot of companies and manufacturers are producing replica furniture. As a result, it is hard to find the one that is best in quality.
To find cheap replicas of designer furniture is very common. They have poor material and manufacturing. So it is a big problem due to Chinese manufacturers.
When looking at the best replica pieces of furniture, look for:
- great design
- durable material
- high-quality hardware and accents
- crafty manufacturing
Italian companies emphasize on the quality of material, great craftsmanship, and premium finishing.
Replica Furniture Final Thoughts
Being an interior designer myself, I understand how an iconic piece of furniture is a work of art. And, the artist deserves all the credit.
Therefore, when a client requests to include replica furniture in a project, I naturally hesitate. My hesitation is due to designer ethics.
Subsequently, it is my job to facilitate my clients and respect their budget limitations.
Moreover, high prices and shipping costs make the original designer furniture unaffordable. In such cases, it becomes crucial to provide great replicas for my clients. I am always concerned about quality. Therefore, it is my concern to provide high-quality replica furniture if clients demand.