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.


I Want An Eames Lounge Chair

I can't afford the licensed product at over  €6,000 so what is the difference between the €600-€800  mid-priced options versus higher priced ones and how do I get the best value and quality?

Sounds familiar. Not surprising. We get asked this question at least 5 times a month.

We're going to completely ignore lounge chairs advertised at circa €500 or below as chances are you will be dealing with cheap ply, plastic parts, wrong angles, visible screws and PU leatherette so if you are looking for a decent piece of furniture, lets rule these out at the start.

Moving on then to mid-range prices for Eames Style Lounge Chairs (Price Bracket: €600-€850)

Mostly these will arrive semi-assembled with bases to be attached and sometimes you may also need to attach the back sections to the base (seat cushion section) and the armrests, depending on the supplier. Not an impossible job but it can be fiddly and armrests need to be attached with an allen key at an unusual angle. OK for the DIY enthusiasts, however, other aspects to watch for at this price point are as follows:
Usually the inside of the wood shells will be left unfinished and on the chair at the front, there are two small areas at each side of the seat cushion where this raw wood may be visible. It's just a finishing aspect but at this price point, every factory finishing option costs, so the more of these that are reduced, the cheaper they can retail the finished product.

The piping and buttons (the trim areas) may be in PU rather than full leather. Again, cheaper to manufacture with and they can still advertise it as 'full leather'.

The cushions will most likely be glued or screwed into the shells internally rather than attached with clips like the original and they will also usually be without any zip detail. Let's say the cat goes crazy and shreds a cushion, or a seat button comes off, then it's not an easy future swap or replacement. You will potentially need to strip the chair down to all of its component parts to get a cushion off or if it has been glued then it may be impossible.


The leather itself will most likely be a cheaper quality and even if advertised as leather, it will be the basic type.

The base may not be die-cast with individually adjustable feet, depending on the supplier.

The wood ply may be acceptable but will not be a drool finish. Overall, it will probably be 'an adequate' replica with that 'OK knock-off' attitude about it.


So, moving on to the higher end and looking at spending over €1000.

At this price level you rightly expect a damn good chair and stool. So, what does that extra spend normally give?


Firstly, the leather should be best quality, like full aniline, waxed aniline, nubuck or high quality corrected semi-aniline  if you're after a more matt finish.

For the veneers, you will most likely get good wood cuts with consistency of pattern and depth. These will have had a lacquered finish to a smooth sheen that enhances the natural richness and grain of the woods.

The internal cushioning will be high density foam and the upholstery will be pulled over this in the correct way, to create that deep flowered look in the cushions in keeping with the design.

Cushions will be zipped and clipped onto the shells. These metal clips are at each corner of the inside of the shells and the underside of the cushions have pre-cut slots that clip on. The cushions will also have a breathable venting area on the underside, that gives it that 'whoosh' sound when you sink into the seat.

Overall, the aesthetic and finishing touches should be there -  thickness of cushions, flowering detail and quality of leather, the wood finish, the quality of components, from the polished base and back braces to the ply layer edging around the cushions and unless you turn it upside down to look for a makers mark, then you should be hard-pushed to see differences between it and an original Eames lounge chair and ottoman.
It goes without saying that the matching ottoman stool should be included as part of the price and set and of the same quality as the chair.
So, there you have it. Go forth and shop....

Our range of lounge chairs can be viewed at: https://www.stil.ie/products/leather-lounge-chair-ottoman-inspired-by-eames

Copyright: 2019 Stil Designer Home and Office

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.

 

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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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