Is imitation ever flattery?

To be influenced by other designers is an intrinsic part of the trade and the very birth of design trends. From Art Deco to stark minimalism, it all comes from an original concept that was expanded upon by others. But the fine line between being influenced and the unscrupulous theft of ideas is being regularly crossed to the point where it’s now a speck in the distance. It’s now reached the point of outright plagiarism.

  • E-Mail
By  Charlotte Butterfield Published  December 4, 2006

|~||~||~|To be influenced by other designers is an intrinsic part of the trade and the very birth of design trends. From Art Deco to stark minimalism, it all comes from an original concept that was expanded upon by others. But the fine line between being influenced and the unscrupulous theft of ideas is being regularly crossed to the point where it’s now a speck in the distance. It’s now reached the point of outright plagiarism.

Our heckles were involuntarily risen this month when we interviewed the manager of DuPont, official owner of the trademark ‘Corian’, who reported more than 20 companies misusing the ‘Corian’ name, claiming it as their own. Of course, this isn’t the first time unscrupulous (or just plain ignorant) manufacturers have laid claim to innovations that never graced their own drawing boards. A couple of months ago we reported similar misuse of the term ‘Carrara’ marble and a few months before that we warned designers to be wary when purchasing ‘Murano’ glass, urging to check that it does indeed hail from the Italian island of Murano.

Budget restrictions on projects often mean spiralling costs need to be slashed, but worryingly these copycat manufacturers are thriving in this region. When researching this month’s feature on window dressings, one of our industry insiders even spoke out about fabrics being the focus of substandard imitations. They told CID that, ‘a majority of projects seek cheap duplicates of branded items or lower-end products’… Thankfully, the quote ended thus: ‘there is fortunately a niche market that still appreciates and looks for quality products.’

So what to do? DuPont is currently launching proceedings against one violator of the ‘Corian’ name, but will this be enough to deter money-conscious designers from commissioning copycats in the future? And more importantly, will it be obvious to the client when parting with their money and could it lead to serious safety concerns? Some will be caught, but we fear that the first instance that many of these charlatans will be exposed is when their projects fall apart around our ears…

Charlotte Butterfield, Editor
Charlotte.butterfield@itp.com
||**||

Add a Comment

Your display name This field is mandatory

Your e-mail address This field is mandatory (Your e-mail address won't be published)

Security code