Bad fakes sold by Dwell!

Dwell Stratford cheap fakes 2Nothing new there, I hear you say. But there are two factors that show the extent of Dwell's contempt for intellectual property rights, and for their own customers:

  1. how they flaunt their fakes, and
  2. how badly designed the fakes are.

The flaunting can be seen at their shop in Westfield Straford. The image above shows their glass frontage filled with fakes of Jaime Hayón's Josephine chandelier for Metalarte. Here they are again:

Dwell Stratford 3The bad design? Look at a real Josephine chandelier:

Jaime hayon metalarte Josephine Queen 9.6.3 gold

Now look at Dwell's:

Dwell Stratford 4Compare: the clumsily thick circular bars to which the light bodies are attached...the ugly bundling of cables up the centre...the cables entering the light bodies at a sharp angle through exposed strain relief bushes...the wonky shades (in fact, the whole chandelier is wonky) ...the lack of proportion between the shades and the light bodies....

Yet the person who designed the fake knew the original! Basically, why didn't they make a better fake? The answers are, presumably (1) they don't care, (2) they cynically calculate that their customers will not notice what a crap pendant this is -- they'll still buy it, and (3) they are "designing" it so that it can be made a cheaply as possible -- so they get the concept for free by stealing it, then spend as little as possible getting their version made.

And, surprise, surprise! What do we have in the back of the shop but a fake of Arco from Flos:

Dwell Stratford arco

Here's the head of the real Arco. Notice also how slim and elegant the arm is and compare it with the clumsy thick component in Dwell's.

Flos ARCO_part

This is the light of which the Prime Minister's wife is reputed to have bought a fake -- see our post: Sunday Times tell readers: buy cheap fakes! Contempt for intellectual property rights is clearly as strong in in the offices of Dwell as it is in 10 Downing Street.

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Sunday Times tell readers: buy cheap fakes!

First the Daily Telegraph (see Daily Telegraph tell readers: buy cheap fakes!)  and now the Sunday Times in its Home section on 30th October 2011: Sunday Times Home 30 10 11It is even the same light -- Achille Castiglioni's Arco for Flos-- that the Daily Telegraph targeted. Flos must have done a Very Bad Thing to justify these attacks by the British press....

Bizarrely, the Sunday Times tried to justify their suggestion by saying that Samantha Cameron, the prime minister's wife, bought one! This is inconceivable for two reasons.

First, David Cameron (as prime minister) and his wife (because of her association with the luxury leather goods company Smythson) are fully aware of the considerable economic damage caused by fakes and counterfeit goods.

Secondly, design is about attention to detail. A fake is never as good as the real thing -- it just might look like the real thing through half-closed eyes from a distance. If she has been working with a luxury goods company, Samantha Cameron must have some visual awareness, some feeling for design, surely?

Sadly, the whole point of the full Sunday Times feature, Spot the Difference, was to encourage the buying of fakes. Just so you know, this is what a real Arco looks like:

Arco from FlosArco from Flos -- detailThere was also a limited edition with a black marble base.

It is beautifully made by Flos, whose name will be on it and on all the packaging (though this can be faked too, of course). It will be clearly CE marked -- i.e. not dangerous or illegal, because it meets all the necessary regulatory requirements. Does the fake -- even if it says it does...?

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Daily Telegraph says: Buy fake Arco Sir

In the Property Section [page 13] of your edition of 12 March, you advocated the purchasing of fakes. This is simple theft of intellectual property and it is not a victimless crime. The promotion of fakes adversely affects employees in Europe (in this case of Flos, who make the Arco that was illustrated) and, more generally, the industry as a whole, because it creates unsustainable expectations of what something should cost.

For it should be obvious that VAT, marketing, the reseller's margins, plus the cost of shipping a huge lump of marble, are together going to absorb almost all the £200 retail price quoted, leaving precious little for the people making it. Does that worry you?

There is an ontological issue here about whether a copy of a thing is that thing, but there can be no emotional debate: a fake Rolex is not going to give the same pleasure that a real one will. Aesthetically (in lighting, at least), fakes are never as well proportioned or as well made as the original.

But my reason for writing is to ask where you draw the line, and on what bases? You have demonstrated that you regard European makers of lighting as fair game. But where do you stand on, for example, fake watches and perfumes, illegal downloads, fake aircraft components, or plagiarism in books?

We sent this letter to the editor of the Daily Telegraph, and its receipt was acknowledged. However, to date there has been no reply and the letter has not been published. They have, however, removed this section from the on-line version of this article.

Do you think we were right to ask this newspaper where it stands on the two moral issues raised here: the theft of intellectual property, and the exploitation of workers? Do you think that they should clarify their stance?

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