Caroline Baumann, Director of the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum moderated and raised questions ranging from ‘What happens when a product get to the market that someone else already created?’ to ‘Is there still an information gap with consumers about design?’ The talk got to the heart of the important business relationship between what designer’s create and the role companies have in respecting their ideas. Consumers need clearer information about why selecting products designed with quality in mind is an investment and benefits a broader industry. We’ve selected the highlight quotes from each of the speakers:
Mark Simmons, Vice President of Marketing, Design Within Reach
On diagnosing the cause of knockoff culture:
I think there are some obvious incorrect things that are done that are easy to label that are knockoffs. And I think there it is often easy to sort out because it’s the intention. What is the intention of what they were doing? If the intention was to capitalize on someone else’s work and intellectual efforts, then it is a pure knockoff and it’s not authentic.
There’s other cases that are in between, I think you just have to go back to what was their inspiration. What were they trying to do and try to understand it that way. There is a lot of mixing up and matching up right now in all of culture and the creative arts right now.
Paolo Cravedi, Managing Director of Alessi USA
Responding to what a company should do if they unknowingly bring a product to market that is someone else’s idea:
Things can happen, everything is not transparent. Designer’s work sometimes in a bubble, inspiration comes, and they cannot know everything that is going on in the market. You have to be honest, there has to be a level of intellectual honesty I think that informs everything the company does.
Giulio Cappellini, Art Director of Cappellini
On how to foster original design today:
For a company like Cappellini, the most important thing is to be contemporary and to be contemporary means always to work on innovation. It means to work with new materials and now production systems and why not try to design products that are more affordable. This is for me the most important thing because the quality and originality of design is not only just about the shape, but is to give a sort of guarantee to the end consumer.
Odile Hainaut, Co-Founder of WantedDesign
On why stories add value to products:
I think for us what is exciting is to bring present people that you don’t see too much. We encourage them to not just present their product, but say what is original about their product. So, what is the origin of this product. It’s great when you have the story behind the product relating to a specific country and the techniques they are using to keep the traditional craft or material use specific to their country.
I think it is our role as well to bring people who come from different parts of the world and to show there is original design coming from all around the world which is locally made and totally linked to the origins of the designs.
The discussion was held at the Miami Design District location of the new Design Within Reach showroom by architects Sayigh+Duman.