Here's how a designer makes money: One day she dreams up a chair. She spends months developing the concept, selecting materials, devising the exact curve of the arm, the dip of the back. Satisfied with the piece, she works with a manufacturer to produce it. The manufacturer refines the design, invests in tooling to build it, promotes it, and gets it to market. You, the consumer, buy it. This is an original, authentic design.
Usually, a percentage of your purchase goes back to the designer, who reinvests it into her business, her next idea. In order to take risks and innovate—and, indeed, to make a living—a designer needs to profit from her successes. Same with manufacturers—they need money to contract and promote designers’ work and to keep their production quality high. This is the basic premise of how the design industry works, at least when all goes well.
Enter knockoffs, to blow this balanced ecosystem to bits.
Authentic designs—pieces produced by designers or their authorized manufacturers—are investments. They may be pricier than their knockoff versions but they’re usually crafted with high-quality materials, will last for generations, and will retain value. Knockoffs, by contrast, tend to be short-term objects; they’re made with lower-quality foam, fabrics, metal, joinery, glue, and veneers that break down faster.
They’ll end up in the trash, and probably sooner than you hope.