06 February 2009

cheap, but not so chic...

today's post was to be about a fabulous find or two we discovered on overstock.com. we say was, because though we'll probably get to the good stuff at some point, today's post is not about the cool stuff we found at overstock.com, but rather about a pretty uncool find...
does the above chair look familiar? well, it should, because it's a cheap knock off of a thomas pheasant for baker chair (below). why does maison21 have a problem with this? isn't he about the look for less? well, yes, we are all about that- we love "in the style of" just as much as genuinely "designed by", and never have a problem mixing the two together- style is always paramount to pedigree in our book. so why the problem? because this is just outright piracy- the below chair is something mr. pheasant painstakingly designed, and baker paid for him for the intellectual property rights, and then paid more to actually build prototypes, and to make samples, and print marketing materials, and on and on. then some dude in china sees it on the baker website, decides to copy it in a cheap and clunky fashion, and ultimately sell it to overstock, who in turn sells it for a small fraction of the price of the baker original. not cool.
not only did overstock have the nerve to knock the chair off, it's made worse by the fact that they are selling it on their website as "baker leather dining chairs" two for $299.99. that's the extremely uncool part (and what truly moves it into the piracy corner). for all we know, perhaps mr. pheasant took his design from a long out of production tommi parzinger chair, tweaked it and called it his own- m21 has no way of knowing that, and that kind of thing goes on all the time in the design world- but he didn't call it a "parzinger" chair, and it wasn't still under copyright, earning money for another firm. maison21 can think of all kinds of variations on the chair overstock could have made instead, to give the same "feeling" but without being a blatant rip-off; and we really think that's ok- after all, designers have been riffing on one another's work as long as there have been man made objects, and that won't change anytime soon. plus, we really do like the idea of offering chicness at different price points for different markets; but there is a line that can be crossed between a homage and a knock-off, and this chair for sure crossed that line.

bad overstock.com. you are in time-out for this week's posts!

8 comments:

Design Junkie said...

When I used to go the furniture market in high point, north carolina, I was always amazed at how blatently even established firms would describe their line to us (buyers) as their version of baker's milling road, or their Barbara Barry chair. We called it "designed by Polaroid."

Anonymous said...

M21, I worked, some years back, at the L.A. Mart. I would often encounter camera's being pulled out to snap photos of products and original items from our upscale manufacturers. I would have to shoo them out with a criptic word or two. It's a rub but a nasty fact that this goes on all the time. Stay dry in this rain, Ginny

Lolo said...

I agree with your piracy vs homage point. I just want to point out that Overstock is just a virtual clearinghouse for merchandise and doesn't actually manufacture anything. Our gripe should be with the actual manufacturer of the rip off but perhaps a line dropped to Overstock might result in something?

BTW, they're also selling knockoffs of the Ghost Chair. I almost squealed when I saw it but I've reminded myself that there are other items on The List that are more worthy of purchase first.

katiedid said...

I could see if it had been named something else. But to call it a Baker Chair is so amazing to me! I wonder if Baker does anything when this sort of thing happens? It is enough different for them to maybe get away without copyright infringement. The corners of the front of the chair are quite different, and you are right....cheap looking. But a knock-off none-the-less!

Ivy Lane said...

Amen!

Cote de Texas said...

can't believe they called it a Bakers Chair. but if you actually look at the proportions and quality, it is a very poor knock off. The back inset looks so cheaply made. The seat is smaller and less graceful. all in all it is lacking the beauty and grace of the original. I don't think t.p. really needs to worry. Anyone that wants his chair won't settle for this copy. I don't know, things like this don't bother me so much. There's not much new under the sun and everything is a rip off of a rip off of a rip off. Great post - good food for thought.

Sue said...

I agree with you 100%. Its one thing knocking of the chair but selling it using his name is taking it a bit far.
(plus - they didn't exactly get the elegance of the chair right)

Suzy said...

Calling them Baker chairs as well...that is way more than crossing the line. I have to say though, I see so much of this here in HK, unfortunately. I know of a furniture company in Shanghai who not only copies Baker products, but has completely copied their website too...not cool at all.