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Real vs Replica. Blah blah blah. But seriously, it’s serious.

And designer or design consumer, you are critical to the debate.

With all clients (including ones that aren’t even mine) this topic ALWAYS comes up. It also comes up* with family, friends, students and relative strangers.

*I repeatedly bring it up.

It’s one of the topics I’m pretty convinced about. I’m black and white on this one. And my years on the high school debating team are firmly in action (Welcome, Adjudicator).

With this you can at least understand the points before you even consider handing over (too much) money for a replica, or (the correct amount of) money for the original. PS I’m not biased, I’m in the know and passionate about it.

Imma gonna say it again and again, this argument starts with designers and ends with consumers. That means, as designers we have the responsibility of our profession to teach consumers, (the public, our clients) about what replicas mean. And that replicas are mean. And teaching is always best when you lead by example. There are NO EXCUSES. And then it’d also be great if we could all unite to have the laws protect from the misleading large companies that make money off the back of all of us.

The problem in Australia is that we don’t know enough about the real stuff. And we get educated by television on the topic of design. We don’t know when something isn’t the original, so we hear the name in the title and assume. So please, think about how things have come to being a little more. Ask people in the shop, designers you know, forums. Notice the differences between replica and real.

Key words here:


  • a duplicate of an original artistic work.


  • created personally by a particular artist, writer, musician, etc.; not a copy.

  • the earliest form of something, from which copies may be made.

For example. Imagine you are an artist, writer, musician, or furniture maker, designer, photographer or other. (If you really can’t imagine being one yourself, then imagine it’s your partner, parent, sibling or best friend – who you respect and support in their quest for creativity as industry - who you say is so creative and clever).

Imagine you/they create something, with years of hard work, lots of money and personal brilliance that is groundbreaking and/or beautiful and that everyone, everywhere, loves. Something that was significantly, thoughtfully invested in from many angles so that it is the best version to serve the user for the amount of money needed to produce it at that level of quality and to look and perform to their expectations. Designed and made with integrity and consideration for the environment in its longeivity.

Are you proud? Are you glad of its contribution? Are you excited to see how it will be received? Are you hoping there is money to be made after all the hardwork? Are you excited for the recognition and identification to be associated with it?

And then. How do you feel after a many years (or in some cases, only months) of its success when people copy it, make it on the cheap so it looks slightly shitter, and now doesn’t perform as well, using environmentally bad manufacturing processes for mass consumption that ensure it is landfill in t-minus not long? How do you feel when that product is associated with your name and what you stand for?

Devo. Not to mention a little bit broker.

Copying is not ok. Copying and changing ever so slightly is the same as copying.

Using someone elses name or design for your own commercial or artistic gain is robbery. Fraud. Bad karma, yes, but also stealing, counterfeit and illegal spring to mind.

Inspiration is natural and found in many places, including from what design pioneers have done before you.

Inspiration may show signs of influences/influencers but they shouldn’t be completely recognisable. This is where laws for IPR, copyright, trademark come in. We have them, but Australia's versions are in need of urgent and massive reform.

Until then, you need to know that copying is not ok.

Especially copying, but making it shit enough to still be recognisable. That’s the worst.

It’s misleading, because the consumer (the public, your client, you) have not been equipped to visibly notice the differences and are suckered in by price and pretending names and will shell out money that is wasted.

It’s wasted because it will not last. That is my guarantee to you. I have sat, and I have fallen.

In summary, it sounds condescendingly simple, I’m sorry:

  • If you are a designer, do not specify replicas. Just Don’t Do It.

  • If you are a consumer, do not buy replicas.

And from here on I don’t even think we should say replica. It sounds too smart. They’re just fakes. So let’s all point and laugh at the fakers.

Then, in a less childish way, that supports the importance of design in Australia let’s all read some articles:

  • In very simple legal terms here’s how and why Australian design is in legal jeopardy:

This website is also a great reference if you really are that amazing designer or their parent, partner or friend.

  • Here is an excellent report commissioned by IP Australia that demonstrates the diversity in thought to IPR, copyright and trademark for design industry

It shows Australia has a bit of work to do in this area, and also gives you some insight and support into how you can look at it.

  • For great advice, Cassie at is also very legit

  • To be an active ambassador, member or advice taker to support real, original, authentic design in Australia go to

So… if you can’t afford the real deal, what CAN you buy?

I'll help you with that in the next post. Standby. Or if possible, sit on something real.

Oh the suspense.



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