We live in an age of mass-consumerism and it seems we’re always striving for the new: new cars, new fashion, new chairs, new phones. The best of everything is at our fingertips, we just tap and pay! Let’s take a moment, however, to think about how this impacts our environment and the authenticity of design, the real vs the replica.
One of my favourite Japanese words is ‘Shibui’. Shared with me by a scholar of design history, it is similar to ‘patina’, a more widely used reference for the softening to the surface of an object over time and natural age. ‘Shibui’ describes the ‘life’ behind the quality of any experience, a sense of evolving character or perfection. In the context of furniture and lighting, it is the wear and tear, and the folds and the forms, that only add to the character of timeless design.
Before buying something new, online or off the showroom floor, think about investing in pre-owned furniture, an original. This not only helps the environment, but more importantly it celebrates and pays homage to the designers, and designs that have sometimes taken decades to perfect. These pieces have been constructed with skill and imagination and with enduring materials. They reflect the relationship between the designer, and often embody the fashion and history of an era – a timeless work of art.
I am passionate about original pieces and always keen to educate buyers on the benefits of buying real vs replica. Real products are manufactured using innovative techniques and quality materials. Even today, licensed manufactures of design classics follow very specific guidelines stipulated by the original design. This is in stark contrast to replica furniture, often produced in overseas factories, using sub-standard materials and manufacturing methods.
They are mere imitations, with little meaning or reference to the original concept, which were built to last. A designer chair, however old, is not just a chair, it has beauty and relevance, and a connection to the time and place it was created.
If you want to own a design classic that will stand the test of time, do your research and purchase an original. Find the magic in the real! And importantly, help the environment along the way.
Head of Modern Design