Stil Blog
A Guide to Buying Replica Designer Furniture Online

Do you love the look but not the price tag for Bauhaus and Mid-Century furniture classics from the likes of Le Corbusier, Mies Van Der Rohe, Eero Saarinen, Eileen Gray, Harry Bertoia, Eames or Breuer?


In a nutshell, the classic designs of early and mid-century furniture are held by a small group of international businesses who purchased the rights to reproduce from the original designers estate. Some were purchased many years ago, for what today we would consider nominal sums. These businesses manufacture and sell 'licensed reproductions'. For the past decade or so, a market for unlicensed reproductions has grown, based on popular demand.

The argument for and against such unlicensed reproductions has heated up correspondingly, with those against the market, arguing that they are of shoddy quality ('cheap knockoffs' being a phrase that has been used widely in the press),whilst those in favour argue that many of these items of furniture were originally conceived to be utilitarian items, affordable and accessible to the masses and that they should remain affordable today, to be enjoyed aesthetically by many rather than left to only an exclusive and wealthy elite to enjoy.

Asia, being the production room of the world, now produces much of the worlds furniture and over the past decade a select number of manufacturers have evolved, focusing on high quality. These companies often manufacture for high street, boutique and department store retailers across Europe and North America, and have learnt what the standards need to be to retain business and orders from the West.

There are two distinct markets. There are also the factories that will churn out using cheaper materials and a cheaper finish to fulfil the requirements of retailers who sell at the lower price bracket, however, if you are after a good quality piece of furniture, here's our quick guide on making the process as easy as possible:

  • Deal with a reputable company who you can discuss your requirements properly with, who are dealing directly with their manufacturer and who are not simply buying off a general importer.
  • There are a number of different levels of finish that manufacturers offer and your retailer should be able to liaise to ensure that your item is tailor-made to match your budget. For example, aniline and top layer leather hides will be more expensive than semi-aniline or corrected leather and waxy vintage leathers can be a little more again.
  • Be prepared to pay a reasonable sum for a proper reproduction. You do pay for what you get in terms of materials and workmanship, whether it is a new sofa or a reproduction piece and the import costs will also be factored in by the retailer.
  • Metals used should be of certain grade and in keeping with the original design in terms of finish and joints.
  • Fire safety labels should be attached where applicable, as per international fire safety regulations.
  • Be prepared to allow 8 to 10 weeks for manufacture and delivery, as your item will take approximately a month to manufacture and a month of travel to reach you. There can also be small adjustments in dates due to transport delays or weather, but as a rule, two months should be the approximate lead time.
  • If ordering bespoke or special order request, a deposit may be requested prior to production with the balance payable just prior to delivery. Also, note that some retailers will not accept returns on bespoke orders.
  • Get your measurements 100% right and confirm colours via swatches and samples prior to finalising an order request.
  • Furniture items are all different dimensions and weights so be prepared to factor in a delivery cost from the retailer to your home, as larger items will require suitable freight services.

To save a lot of grief and stress, the first point is probably the most important. Deal with a retailer who communicates and who you can work and communicate with.

If you need any further advice, please don't hesitate to contact sales@stil.ie and we are more than happy to answer any questions you may have, no matter how small.


A Buyers Guide to Reproduction Eames Style Lounge Chairs

For most of us, purchasing a licensed reproduction of an Eames lounge chair, carries a hefty price tag (in excess of 6,000 Euros on average) and yes I say 'licensed reproduction', as unless you are lucky enough to inherit or stumble across an authentic one in a garage sale or via Ebay then it is, technically, a reproduction, under license, of the original design.

Fuelled by demand for such an iconic piece of furniture, the Eames reproduction market has exploded in recent years and some of the better reproductions are pretty exact to the specification and quality of the original design, but how does one choose the good reproduction, from the minefield of poor copies and cheaply made imitations?

First and foremost, it would be wise to dismiss anything under circa E600. Just ask yourself, would you really get a good quality leather lounge chair and ottoman, properly engineered and finished in high quality upholstery at that price level? The old adage of "if it's too good to be true, then it probably isn't" remains.

There are mid-priced ranges, which all vary in finish and detail, up to ones (such as the ones we retail), which we consider to be as close to the original as possible in terms of quality, attention to detail and finish.

Here is our buyers guide for choosing a replica Eames lounge chair:

    • Read descriptions VERY carefully when shopping online.
    • Does it say leather? Not 'leatherette', 'faux leather', 'leather seat' or 'leather pad'. Be wary also if it says Piping in PVC as therefore the piping trim on seat edge may not be full leather. If it says 100% leather upholstery, tick OK
    • What type of leather is it? Like any material there are variations in quality. For example, Chinese leathers are often thinner and not as supple as Italian. Again, take note that it does not say 'Italian Style' Leather. Wording is paramount and unscrupulous sellers will try and pass off cheaper chairs by masking the description with carefully chosen words. If it specifies the leather, tick OK.
    • Does it have a die-cast aluminium base?  Again, cheap copies often have alloy metal bases with plastic connections. These are not strong enough to last the everyday actions and movement of such a chair, therefore making them very much NOT fit for purpose. If it says die-cast base tick OK.
    • Real wood grain veneer? The Eames lounger was originally created with between five to seven layers of ply. Cheap copies often use laminate. Quality reproductions will use real wood veneer and therefore each varies and each chair becomes unique in its own particular grain and piece of wood. Again carefully check the wording. If it says real wood veneer tick OK.
    • Visible screws. None should be visible, especially on rear arms. This is a real giveaway of poorly made copies.
    • The shock mount Check that this is rubber. Not plastic or metal.
    • Does it require assembly?  If you want to be driven completely mad, then order a flat-packed imitation. Any Eames lounger replica worth its salt should arrive to you assembled.
    NB: sometimes very minor assembly of attaching the two bases upon delivery may be required and this is usually for packing and shipping purposes to protect legs in transit so they do not get damaged if box was to open.
      • Does it include the Ottoman. Take note on this point, some sellers advertise the chair and ottoman separately thus making the initial price look attractive. It is possible to buy them separately but generally they should retail as a matching unit.
      • Look at the overall aesthetic. Good reproductions will stay true to the original in terms of the angle of the chair and base, (it was designed to sit at a slight tilt backwards of approx 15deg), the shape and size of the armrests, the bolt arms on the reverse of the chair back, the thickness of the cushions, the piping and trim.
      • Last, but not least, purchase from a reputable company that you can call up and speak with someone and discuss any aspect in greater detail as required.

      There were manufacturing variations to the chairs over the years and different bases were designed for the US and European markets and slight differences were designed on US and European models so dimensions of models varied and some were produced slightly wider and larger.

      There is a wealth of information available online about the history of these iconic chairs so it is also worth doing some research on the different styles and the design history,  to help with the decision on choice of base, leather and veneer you would like, prior to going shopping.Our range can be viewed at: https://www.stil.ie/products/leather-lounge-chair-ottoman-inspired-by-eames

      Getting The Industrial Look In Your Home

      The industrial look has crept into mainstream furniture and furnishings over the past couple of years and is no longer exclusively the domain of East London or New York.

       

      Artisan coffee shops and cafes have been quick to see the merits of leaving conduit pipework and brick exposed when renovating. However, incorporating industrial style into a new build or traditional home can be a bit trickier.

       

      If you live in a modern build there are a number of ways to work it in, not least with lighting. Bare Edison filament lights bunched together on coloured cords or some factory pendant lighting in mixed and matched colours work well within a modern kitchen/dining setting.

      For lounge or hall, use large tripods and marine diving lamps as statement pieces.

       

       

      NLXL do a fabulous range of very high quality concrete, wood and tin tile wallpapers that are so real you will reach out to touch them. Very popular in commercial and hospitality projects for ease of application and for the effects they can instantly provide for ceilings, accent walls or specific areas and perfect for an instant update or look.

       

      Chalkboard wallpaper also gives a market cafe feel and you can buy smaller rolls of blackboard film, (reminiscent of the rolls used for covering school books a generation or two ago) which can be cut to fit nicely into an alcove or even to disguise a fridge freezer door.

       

      Vintage style fairground lighting art/letters bring a wall to life also. Have a look at Urban Industrialists range here

       

      Pallet or trunk coffee tables in steel or wood with a floodlight lamp can be worked into even a small modern apartment space. Have a look through our industrial range for some ideas and examples of these productss.

       

       

      Image from Rebel Walls.co.uk

       

      In Edwardian and Victorian properties the architectural features of that era may dictate that you contain the industrial look primarily to the kitchen/dining space with a nod to it in the bathroom or bedroom. You have to be careful to get that right look of 'faded grandeur'. Edwardian and Victorian sculleries would have had their share of pipework on show and copper and iron cookware and utensils on display from simple racks and hooks.

       

      Steel French cafe style chairs and barstools are a good choice for a dining/kitchen area and come in a range of colours. Mix and match with a metal or reclaimed wood table. Have a look through our range of chairs and stools with design elements of mid-century and industrial.

       

       

      The key is to make it yours and experiment, whilst keeping it comfortable and cosy too.

       

      SaveSaveSave
      Mad Men - 20th Century Makers, Architects and Designers

       

      George Nelson, Edward Wormley, Eero Saarinen, Harry Bertoia, Charles Eames and Jens Risom as featured on Playboy Magazine, July 1961

       

      We love their designs and a half a century later we still surround ourselves with the beautiful objects they created. Who were these mid-century men of steel, and wood and fibreglass? A quick peek below at just a handful of these great names of modern interior design;

       

      George Nelson

       

      designed for Herman Miller in the 1950's. Well known designs include his angular benches, the stylised Marshmallow sofa and Coconut chair as well as his clocks.


      Eero Saarinen

      futuristic concepts. Hugely influential architect also. Best known for his organic style Tulip range and the beautiful Womb Chair and ottoman.

      Harry Bertoia

      very sculptural and loved to work with metal. The Wire Chair is one of his best known creations.

      The Eames, Ray & Charles

      simply still the giants of design, from dining, to lounge to graphic design to film.

       

      Jens Risom

      worked with Knoll in 1940's and one of the first Danish designers to introduce Scandinavian design into the North American market.

      These are only a few of the great designers of that era. Nowadays, we happily mix and match these well-loved mid-century classics with the new and others from the Baumhaus and Modernist movements.

       

      Mostly, they all live happily and in harmony with one another when well chosen and placed in the right setting. So here's to the real Mad Men – Makers, Architects and Designers of the modern era.

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