To buy or not to buy a replica (Seven 7) design chair ?

About few years ago I read interesting article (Helsingin Sanomat<-in Finnish) about replica furnitures. Personally, I think that article is excellent in many ways. It explained for a layperson like me what are the things that cost in design product. Quality is thing that costs besides trademark and additional marketing etc. costs.

Designers Revolt is one of firms which sells replicas from well-known designers such as Arne Jacobsen, Wegner, Eames, Serge, George Nelson and Poul Henningsen. DR promises that its replica chairs last as well as originals. But do they really? Is Seven chair for example just a chair and does it really matter who manufactures chairs? 

Original 7 chairs by Fritz Hansen, designed by Arne Jacobsen
Photo credit by Fritz Hansen

Helsingin Sanomat asked carpenter to put original Arne Jacobsen's Seven chair (manufacturer: Danish Fritz Hansen) and replica Seven to (ultimate) test and tell what are the differences between these two chairs. Carpenter soon saw the first differences.

Original Seven had beautifully joined wood pieces which matched perfectly with each other. It had also even and matt colour with no drops or lines. Original looked better than replica. And not just that.


What about legs then? Chroming plating in original's legs was well-made. Carpenter also praised plastic sheath in legs. Plastic sheath was made so that it will last longer than replica's. Or actually there was something in those legs that was thought through. Unlike in replica one's. There was yellowness in replica's legs, which was due to less-quality chroming plating. These are one of those things that I don't look as an amateur.

When exploring closer carpenter said that wood material in replica Seven was softer and less flexible. Original Seven was made of harder, yet more flexible wood material which makes it long lasting choice. Original was also lighter, which had also been one of the main things when designed this chair. Replica also had imperfectly pieces of paired wood veneer. 

Last, they made durability test and tested the quality of knock offs. It was similar to Youtube video (released in 2014)  shown below. Result was also same. Replica chair was soon broken.

But does this really matter? It is still cheap isn't it? I would not personally consider buying a replica chair for 214 € (in 2012). After all, you can buy these chairs in second-hand for that price. And durability in the long run is another thing. Designers Revolt is registered in the UK, where copyright law has been less strict-so far. At the moment copyright law is being reassessed. And to be clear, there are of course dozens of replica manufacturers in the world, not just DR. I'm quite sure that this kind of business will continue one way or another. As long as it has customers. And what does it do for the whole business and quality in the long run?

So after having written this I have to admit that I found few Arne Jacobsen chairs. And no, I did not put (yet) chair to a test-maybe kids will eventually do that. Do you figure out which chair it is?

Next time I will post more about Jacobsen chairs or playing kids.

Have a relaxing weekend!

Quality test based on original text: Tuoleissa on eroja Helsingin Sanomat 22.6.2012. 

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