Some of Interiors Addict’s most commented posts last year were around the replica furniture debate. While some people in the industry have a very anti-replica stance, there is clearly a huge market out there for replica furniture. Milan Direct however, is trying to expand beyond replicas. Boss Dean Ramler spoke to Interiors Addict as the company launches a new Facebook page and blog.
This Christmas, Milan Direct’s sales were up 70 percent in Australia. “Milan Direct has always been known for its high quality replica designer furniture, and it still remains an important part of our business with new and improved models of many of our classic replica pieces continuing to be introduced,” says Dean. “However, as a business we want to be recognised for a lot more than that. Our goal is to meet all the designer furniture needs of our customers and offer them the best value in home, office and outdoor furniture and homewares. As such we are broadening our range of products with a shift away from purely classical or famous design reproductions to newer designs and product lines which can offer better value.”
And while the industry replica backlash can’t be ignored, Dean says some of their biggest customers are interior designers and architects. “They appreciate that enjoyment of quality design shouldn’t just be reserved to those with the budgets to afford it. In saying that though, I can certainly understand why some are against replicas and we respect a customer’s right to only buy originals. However, we believe it is mainly just a misunderstanding in the design community that replicas are in some way bad for furniture designers.
“In our view, replicas are celebrating the designers, and perpetuating and expanding their contribution to design history. Plus, in Australia, a designer of any new functional furniture piece is entitled to a complete monopoly over those designs for a set period of time (design patents). During that time, they can charge whatever they want for the new designs (and it can be very high) and enjoy the rewards without competition.”
After that time though, he says it is only fair that the wider public can make, buy, improve or alter the designs. “Most importantly, after the monopoly period ends, the nature of competition should be able to bring the price down, for the consumer’s benefit,” says Dean.
“We consider that those in interior design circles should respect replica products, and should also strive to achieve designs that pass the test of time and may therefore become replicas themselves one day. Without getting too technical, intellectual property law seeks to strike a balance between rewarding designers for their effort and the public benefit obtained though competition. As the great Charles Eames aspired to “create the best for the most for the least” – this is precisely what replicas do. They bring competition so that the most can enjoy for the least!”
Milan Direct is offering 15% off all non-sale items to celebrate the launch of its new Facebook page today. Enter the discount code: MDFACEBOOKPROMO (expires 9 March 2012).
What do YOU think about replicas?