It wasn’t until I moved back to Melbourne in 2012, from London, that I became aware of famous replica pieces of furniture.
My interior design journey started in London. I studied at the Interior Design Institute while working full time. I started studying interior design as a hobby, finally doing something about a long held interest I had.
Like so many other people who try out creative interests, a spark was ignited and my interest had become a passion. So soon after starting my course I started to plan my business.
As I was living in London at the time my business plan was based on the London market, specifically South West London where I was living. Also my design awareness, although new, was centred on European and British design.
As well as studying interior design I was studying trends in the industry, at this point, to be honest I had no concept of the popularity of replica furniture in Melbourne because in London I was surrounded by the real deal.
In one of my first projects, a residence in North Balwyn, I actually specified the Noguchi coffee table, without really understanding this piece was one of many replicas that Melburnians loved.
Slowly I started to get to know about design trends in Melbourne and realised through researching a variety of suppliers just how popular replica pieces are.
The first most common replica piece I noticed was the Barcelona chair by Francis Knoll, an American architect and interior designer during the Mid-Century Modern period. Although this chair was originally the work of another architect Mies van der Rohe. Mies was a ‘modernist’ who valued the ‘less is more’ ethos.
In Melbourne the Barcelona Chair is popular is office settings such as real estate offices, the foyer of tall sky scrapers and I even spotted them in some medical clinics.
The next most popular replica I noticed was the Eames chair. It is so stately, iconic, masculine. This chair was released during the Mid-Century Modern period, in 1956. Designed by Ray and Charles Eames for the Herman Miller Furniture company.
Admittedly not many female clients seek out this chair but still it is a striking piece in any home.
There are many more popular replica pieces such as the Chaise Lounge by Le Corbusier and the Stacking Stool by Aalto. I’ve grown to appreciate these pieces, even though they’re not necessarily the real deal.
I questioned the quality and the manufacturing process and the aesthetic value of mass production, but people love them and love having a piece of iconic design history in their own homes and offices.
What’s your favourite replica piece of furniture?