When my colleagues and I decided that a Blog on design was something that we were interested in doing as a means of telling our story and giving Canadians (and anyone else that would listen) a place to read about and offer comments about the industry that we are involved in, I was hesitant about the idea of adding another “chore” to the list of things that I just don’t seem to be able to get done in my day. Having said that, (you’ll notice in the coming months that I will say those words a lot) I am also intrigued with the idea of putting my thoughts into print, as I truly think that this is an opportunity to really think my way through the decisions that I make on a daily basis.
So, having said that J, a question came across my desk today that I thought was worthy of my first post.
The question was, “I noticed on EBay that replica Noguchi coffee tables are selling for less than ½ the price of the real thing. The replica tables say they have ¾ inch glass and that except for the signature they are the same. Can you tell me the difference between the real thing and the replica please.
My response was:
Sorry for the delay in getting back to you regarding your enquiry about the purchase of an authentic Noguchi table versus a “Knock-off”
It is hard for me to explain the value to someone that doesn’t already see the value in supporting the original designers and authentic manufacturers, rather than purchasing from someone that would steal the designs of someone else in order to make a profit, but I will do my best. I would compare it to buying a Rolex watch made in China. You purchase it as a novelty, knowing that it isn’t the real thing. You pay $20 for the watch and it immediately has no value. You never really enjoy the watch because you know and everyone else knows, that it is just a cheap imitation. The company that actually went to the trouble of designing the item has been ripped off and potentially harmed by the fact that cheap imitations can sometimes take away from the value of the real item as well. The item will never bring you true pleasure, because you know it is a cheap imitation, so if you ever decide to buy the real thing, then the money you paid for the knock-off is lost, because now it is not only a knock-off, but it is a used knock-off. No one wins, except for the manufacturer that stole the design and sold it at a small profit. The other scenario is that you purchase an authentic design, manufactured by the authentic manufacturer. It is a piece that has value, holds value and that you enjoy and cherish the whole time that you own it. The difference that you pay for this seems negligible compared to the enjoyment that the item brings to you. 30 years from now, a knock-off Noguchi table is a used knock-off Noguchi table, but, 30 years from now, an authentic Noguchi table is a vintage Noguchi table. Good luck with your decision.”
So, in hind sight, I probably didn’t actually answer her question as to the physical differences between a knock-off Noguchi table and the “real McCoy”, but then, my feeling is that it doesn’t matter what the physical difference’s are. Even if someone were to come up with a better way to make a Noguchi table, what they haven’t done is design the object of desire. This was done many years ago by a fellow named Isamu Noguchi. He chose Herman Miller as his manufacturer of choice and the decision to buy anything but a real Noguchi table goes completely against the real reason for buying this object in the first place.
I could probably go on and on, trying to explain this in print, but I know that if anyone actually reads this blog, they are either nodding their head in agreement and understanding, or they are thinking, come on now, do you really expect me to believe this load of crap. So, for those of you who get it, welcome and for those of you who don’t, put your feet up on your Noguchi knock-off and read “Isamu Noguchi – Sculptural Design”. Maybe you’ll be inspired.
Until next time