Mid Century Modern Reproductions: When to go Repro?
With the comeback of Mid-Century Modern design, consumers have a tough choice to make: Buy the “real” products or the more affordable reproductions. The answer to this question comes down to a number of very important factors that I will cover below.
I’m sure you noticed that I used quotes when referring to the “real” products. That’s because a lot of the “real” mid-century modern products that are manufactured today are simply reproductions themselves. They are made by companies that simply bought the rights to a 50 year old dead designers work. Most of these designs have also changed from the originals to keep up with new technology and innovation. Additionally, in the furniture industry, you can’t really own a design. All it takes is a small change and you’re free and clear. Yes, it’s an ethical dilemma, but when it comes to saving thousands of dollars, ethical principles seem to fall off pretty quickly.
After getting past the legal and ethical dilemmas, you’re left with worrying about quality, price, and showing off to your friends. There really is something to be said about getting high-quality, licensed designs from a top furniture manufacturer. The quality usually speaks for itself, and the value might hold to collectors in the long term. With that said, that long term value isn’t always guaranteed. Most Mid-Century Modern aficionados only care for the original runs from the mid-1900s.
If you’re so wealthy that you don’t look at the price tags when shopping, the answer is obviously to get the real deal. There’s nothing wrong with spending $10,000 on a sofa or lamp if you have the money. In fact, it’s your better for the economy to put that money right back out there. The quality will be better 99% of the time, and you have something to flaunt when having a fancy dinner party.
For everyone else, the money matters. Is that 10% increase in quality really worth the 5-fold price increase? Is it worth spending $10,000 on a lamp that sits 5 feet above everyone’s head? No one will ever touch it. No one will ever inspect it up close. No one will ever know. The only person who will know is you and your juicy bank account. How about you get a reproduction Artichoke lamp, a reproduction Flag Chair, a reproduction Saarinen Tulip Table, and a set of knock-off Wishbone Chairs for all under $5000? If you had gotten all licensed products you would have spent upwards of $30000. Now you can get all that, a car for you kid, and go on a family vacation!
The choice is up to you. Sometimes it’s worth it to get the real deal, and sometimes it’s not. Make the decision that suits your current needs, and don’t dwell on it.