“Designs that are only concerned with aesthetics usually fail in the everyday, long-term sense. They are not much more than food for the endless exchange of creative ego and selling magazines.”
Design expands and accelerates everyday and in an ever changing market how do we, as consumers, continue to accept situations where the creator of a work has their intellectual property stolen? Are we no longer aware of the value of design? Or does design no longer have value?
26 Original Fakes looks to the uncertified replica in contemporary Australian design practice, opening a conversation about the the issue of copying in both the creative and commercial markets. The prevalence of replica furniture in Australia raises serious issues pertaining to respecting design authorship, valuing creative practice and competing in a commercial market that is often hostile to the designer.
26 Original Fakes, curated by Friends and Associates for Melbourne Design Week, 2017 is an exhibition where 26 contemporary Australian designers have reconfigured a replica of the Vitra Hal Wood chair designed by Jasper Morrison. The curators, Dale Hardiman & Tom Skeehan, bought replica Hal chairs and distributed them to Australian designers to inspire a new work. The resulting pieces vary across different media, with each one highlighting different aspects of the moral and material problems associated with fake furniture. They all have clear messages about the problems of replicas in Australian society.
Studio Gram based their replica of novel, ‘Thank You for Smoking’ by Christopher Buckley. Which tells the story of Nick Naylor, a tobacco industry lobbyist that promotes the benefits of cigarettes. Along with his colleagues in the alcohol and firearms industry, they form what is known as the Merchants of Death. This satirical view of the tobacco industry is the counterpart to the replica furniture industry here in Australia.
Sydney based designer, Tom Feredy highlights what you are left with when purchasing replica design. Disregarding the manufacturer, the collaboration, and the design development, the replica piece leaves you with nothing but a shadow of the iconic form.
Whereas Studio Edwards explores this concept in a different light. Discussing that the replica (or fake) is part of contemporary design and is here to stay. “We must embrace this. The fake maintains a positive connection to the original HAL chair by Morrison, adding value to the original. There is a place for both. It is in this view that we can start to understand, discuss and evolve contemporary design culture.”
26 Original Fakes explores the idea that the value of design is about more than just looks, it is about the conception and process that celebrates the collaboration of innovative thinking that adds value to a life.
Photography by Daniel Herrmann-Zoll, styling by Natalie Turnbull.