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By Kenza van Lerberghe for IROCO Design.


In fine arts, the terms ‘original’ and ‘copy’ are straight forward. In design however, these terms take on a different dimension.

Firstly, reproduction is an inherent aspect which follows design. Some will argue that the term ‘original’ comes from the designation from those manufactured during the earliest years of a design’s production. Following this logic, a 1928 Corbusier armchair  or an Eames Plywood Chair produced in 1946 would be originals, while the same models by Le Corbusier or Charles and Ray Eames from current production would be copies, regardless of  the manufacturer . This thinking argues that ‘originals’ are  models from the earliest periods of production now found in museums and private collections, but not the present products which could be categorized as ‘copies’ manufactured by the licensed producers.

The counter argument will state that the above is misleading and faulty: early examples of a design from the initial production phase are vintage objects, having become collectibles as they represent the first expression of a new idea. The products designed by Le Corbusier or the Eames produced today by their legitimate manufacturers can however also be considered as originals.

Models from the early production phase represent an initial solution. For the duration of their career, Charles and Ray Eames continued to perfect their designs; when better solutions were found the dimensions and materials of a product, together with the individual parts, were changed. The term ‘original’ could therefore receive a broader meaning: the status of an original could be further extended by the relationship between the designer and the manufacturer of the designer’s products, based on shared ideals and consented collaboration, besides the legal component of the relationship.

For any product to be assigned ‘original’ status, the originator of the design must have given the manufacturer the legal authorization to produce it.


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Blogger Detail

Blogger Name:     Zaza VL
Full Name:     Kenza van Lerberghe
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Biographical Info:    Born and raised in Africa, and with a career that has spanned several continents, Kenza van Lerberghe has spent the last six years in the world of designer furniture in Latin America and Asia. Her extensive travels have brought her a vast appreciation of design from all corners of the globe. Now based in HK, she launched her own business offering a one-stop-shop destination for interior designers and retailers across Asia. For Style by Asia, Kenza brings you the latest trends in Asian design and products, and the goings on in the world of interiors and architecture.
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