We all know the importance of quality furniture and investing in great pieces for the home. Designer furniture pieces are timeless artistic visions that bank on innovation and craftsmanship and are made with high-quality, long-lasting materials.
For instance, the modern-day Le Corbusier chaise longue, the Charles and Ray Eames Eiffel chair, and the Arne Jacobsen Series 7 Chair are all over half a century old but would probably look just as contemporary in another 50 years.
For meticulous families, such pieces are worth spending on and passing down through generations. Because of their present and future value, these items are copied by unscrupulous manufacturers. There are many avenues where designer and luxury furniture pieces are copied and sold—and unknowingly acquired. Since these pieces are quite popular across the globe, copies can come from China and other Asian countries, some European countries, and somehow make their way to Manila.
How do you know if you have the real deal? Let these five luxury furniture brands differentiate an original from a replica, and show you which of their pieces are copied the most.
38th St., North Bonifacio Global City, Taguig; 800.7764
Most copied pieces: Kartell’s Louis Ghost chair, Victoria Ghost, and Mademoiselle by Philippe Starck; Masters armchair and TopTop table by Philippe Starck with Eugeni Quitlet; Stone stool by Marcel Wanders, and Bourgie lamp by Ferruccio Laviani.
Louis Ghost chairs
Masters chairs in black and white
Victoria Ghost chairs
How to spot a fake: “Each original Kartell furniture piece bears an embossed mark on its structure exhibiting the brand name, designer name/s, and product name," says Dexterton's Vanessa Lagdameo. "The full polycarbonate furniture pieces are created using single mold technology, which makes each piece stable and durable and shock- and weather-resistant despite its evanescent and crystalline appearance. An original Kartell chair flexes according to the user’s movement when sat upon, while a replica in poor quality would sit solid rock without movement.”
30th Street corner Rizal Drive, Crescent Park, West Bonifacio Global City, Taguig; 819.1887
Most copied pieces: Upholstery furniture and wardrobe systems by various high-end brands, such as Palliser's Othello accent chair and Theia chair, Pinnacle's Peninsula sofa, Global Views' Spun mini vase, among others.
Spun mini vase
How to spot a fake: Know that an original piece has high-quality material, proper proportions, and superb finishing. "[People who copy original pieces] are just after the design and the look, but not how they are produced," says Florence Ko, managing director of Furnitalia. How a piece of furniture is produced makes a difference in durability. It takes time to source the best materials and build a piece in the designer's exact specifications. Meanwhile, companies that only copy originals are after a fast sale, so their production processes are not as meticulous.
Bonifacio High Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig; 856.2748
Most copied pieces: Beat light collections from Tom Dixon and a variety of dining chairs from Carl Hansen—particularly the Wishbone chair and the Elbow chair.
How to spot a fake: Melody Robato from Mos Design distinguishes an original Tom Dixon product from a lesser-quality copy: “Each Beat light from Tom Dixon is spun and beaten by hand by skilled craftsmen in Northern India. While most Beat replicas have smooth interiors, the better copies have perfectly uniform circles decorating the inside.”
An authentic Wishbone chair should have a label on the underside. Melody also lists other physical details that make it easier to spot an original. "The weaving of the originals is very tight, forming perfect 90-degree angles with uniform lengths, and the curved top rail of the seat is made out of one solid piece, while you can see jigsaw marks on replicas indicating several pieces joined together.”
G/L One Parkade, 28th Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig; 736.3728
Most copied pieces: Arper’s Catifa, Gher, and Juno chairs; Cappellini’s Bac chair and Ribbon stool; Foscarini’s Allegretto, Caboche, and Lumiere lamps; Republic of Fritz Hansen’s Drop, Egg, Swan, and Series 7 chairs; Magis’s Chair and Stool One, Déjà Vu chair and stool, Air armchair; and MDF Italia’s Flow chair and stool, and Random shelves.
Fritz Hansen drop chairs
Foscarini Caboche hanging lamps
Magis Steelwood chairs
MDF Italia Flow chairs
Fritz Hansen Egg chairs
Fritz Hansen Swan chairs
Fritz Hansen Series 7 chairs
How to spot a fake: “The 'feeling' of sitting on an original is really different from a copy," says Jesica Perote of Studio Dimensione. "Since the originals are well-studied designs, they are very ergonomic, and that is why they are more comfortable. Originals have warranties for their items. Fritz Hansen even has extended warranty offerings if customers register their products on its website—5, 10, 15, 20, or even 25 years! Imagine that kind of commitment. The finishing of the lacquer and the fabrics and leathers is also very different. You can easily tell by touching them.”
GF Units 106 & 107 Fort Victoria, 5th Avenue corner 23rd Street, Taguig; 734.3243
Most copied pieces: Minotti’s Hamilton sofa and Archipenko cabinet; Knoll’s Barcelona Chair and Bertoia Chairs; Dedon’s Orbit and Panama collections.
Minotti Hamilton sofa
Knoll Bertoia Chairs
Knoll Barcelona Chairs
Dedon Orbit chairs
How to spot a fake: According to Ferdie Ong of Living Innovations, there are a number of things you must examine. “First of all, look at the logo and the special seal. Some brands like Knoll even have serial numbers on each item and a certification that they are originals. The packaging is also a dead giveaway. If the products are packed in thin cartons without bar codes or labels, they may have come from a company that doesn't think its products are good enough or valuable enough to be careful with them. The main difference will be the upholstery: the type used by the copy would be of lesser quality than the original. You will also notice the stitching on the originals is very consistent versus the copies which are usually machine-made rather than hand-made. The feeling of comfort when you sit on an original piece is also different. Finally, the replica will likely not last as long as the original.”