I’m a lover of design, all design, sometimes even bad or weird design but also, I have a profound love and respect for designers. These are the brave people who do the miraculous work of objectifying intangible ideas into tangible objects of desire or disdain. It is my respect for these designers that creates tension between my dislike for the knockoffs of their work (often mislabeled as “designer dupes”) and my belief that great design should be democratic and accessible to all.
In my mind, I’m developing a clear distinction between a “designer dupe” and a knockoff. Designer dupes are objects that have been influenced or inspired by another design in style, material, scale but are not near exact copies of that original design meant to deceive unknowing eyes. Knockoffs are just that, near exact copies of another design meant to deceive our eyes. You’ve seen all the knock-offs of the Eames Lounge Chair and the Eames Molded Plastic Side Chair online for a fraction of the original price. I mean, the original Herman Miller produced Eames chair starts at $5,000, how is that you can buy the copy online for $800 bucks?
Yes, I know, part of the price is related to the name and the caché but even that is worth something and more of the price is related to the materials and the craftsmanship. There are even whole companies like France & Sons devoted to selling cheap copies of influential designs. I have a problem with this because it’s not design, it’s forgery. A designer dupe can have clear inspiration in its form but should also be unique enough to stand on its own as an individual piece of design. I say all of this in reference to one of the loveliest chairs/designer dupes I’ve seen in a while, the Ikea FRÖSET Chair.
Clearly, this chair has some influence from Charles and Ray Eames’ Molded Plywood Lounge Chair (LCW) from Herman Miller but it’s not a copy.
This chair, designed by Sarah Fager and Henrik Preutz, is gorgeous and definitely has its own identity. The rounded seat back and seat evoke a similar molded shape as the LCW but done uniquely with its own distinct form. The scale is also similar to the LCW but the Ikea chair is slightly taller and narrower in dimension. Most importantly, the FRÖSET Chair shares the same low to the floor and sculptural play with wood that the LCW does but at a much more accessible price point ($99). The designers achieve this without trying to trick your eye into thinking it’s an LCW. The FRÖSET chair is simply a beautiful sculptural moment that stands on its own in design and you should definitely know about it.