... And what you should be buying instead.
A new house, new season or tired couch presents a great opportunity for a fresh start. Selecting furniture that reflects your style, fits your space and looks incredible is one of the great joys of setting up a home. If you are on a small budget or if you have an entire house to fill, it can be tempting to select cheap knock-offs of your most lusted after pieces. There are those that would argue that there is a genuine place for replica pieces, by making good design available to a wider range of people. While this may be true in a sense, your home should be a balance between quality, statement pieces and thoughtful, cheaper pieces. We are here to tell you why buying fakes is a bad idea, how to furnish your home with beautiful furniture even on a tight budget, and which original designers we are loving right now.
There are four main issues associated with the replica industry: cost, quality, ethics and effect on the designer. Most people who purchase replica furniture do so because of the cost. Replicas are usually cheaper (though sometimes by only a small amount) and are more easily accessible in terms of position in the marketplace, appearing in chains like Big W and even Aldi, plus thousands of online retailers. The fact that they are so rampant in the market should be a red flag in itself. Why would you want to furnish your home with pieces that everyone else has? The problem with cheap is that often quality is compromised. For some pieces, this can mean the difference between having a beautiful armchair to pass down to your children, or a broken chair on its way to landfill in three years. Replica pieces are not manufactured with sustainability in mind, something that is a major focus of designers at the moment. They break easily and are usually produced in bulk, under questionable conditions in overseas workshops by underpaid workers. These are all big problems for the buyer, but what about the original designers themselves?
When you buy replica furniture, the original designer receives no royalties and all their efforts to create long-lasting, sustainable furniture goes by the wayside. The laws in Australia state that it is legal to produce and sell replica furniture if it is clearly stated that it is a replica. There are no regulations on the quality of these pieces beyond standard safety laws. On top of this, our copyright laws only last for ten years (whereas many other Western countries last for fifty plus years). It costs a lot of register a design and a design can only be registered before it has been manufactured (which for a process like designing a perfect piece of furniture is largely impractical). There for, if we were to only shop 'replica', the Australian design industry would flounder.
This is not to say you cannot, or should not, have some 'replica' pieces in your home, or select furniture from West Elm or Ikea, for example. It is about being aware of how the 'replica' industry operates and making educated choices. Select some key statement pieces from original designers that add beauty and style to your home, and 'fill in the blanks' so to speak, with non-designer pieces that fit within your budget.
If you like the style of the current replica trends, but want to avoid the cheap craftsmanship and blatant plagiarism, one way to purchase original classic designer pieces is to keep an eye out at vintage stores, such as Collectika, auction houses (where authentication can be proved) and online, such as through eBay (but it can be hard to tell the fakes from the real deal when buying online). The second option is to save. When you consider the cost of re-purchasing a chair every few years, verses investing in a quality piece once, it makes sense to wait that extra couple of months until you can afford to buy the original piece you desire. Your future self will thank you for it.
There are so many amazing, innovative Australian designers currently creating original, beautiful furniture that will add so much more to your home than anything you can pick up for a steal at a chain store. We need to support our local industry. For those just dipping a toe into the industry, looking to furnish their first home, or upgrade the couch they collected during their student days, it can be hard to find new design ideas. The best way to avoid a fake is to look outside of the current replica trend to new ideas. A consult with one of our inCollective designers is a great place to start figuring out how you can achieve a balance between beauty and budget in your space.
In the meantime, here are some of our favourite Australian designers.
If you are on the hunt for an original statement piece, looking to update your home and or need help finding your style, inCollective is the perfect place to start. We work with you to find the design that suits your lifestyle, regardless of the current replica trends. There is a wealth of new, vintage and classic designs that are easily accessible if you know where to look. It can be overwhelming trying to find the perfect couch, the perfect lamp and the perfect coffee table, but with a little knowledge and a chat to our expert designers, this process can be simple, seamless and still not break the budget.