The market of reproducing classic furniture and historical pieces is booming and pieces from high-end furniture reproduction manufactures are a sign of affluence. With competition on the rise, how far with these manufactures go to keep revenue flowing? In Emeco’s opinion, Restoration Hardware may have gone too far.
On October 1, 2012, Emeco Furniture, a company famous for its 1944 Naval Chair, filled suit against Restoration Hardware for allegedly stealing their design to what appears to be an exact replica of the famed chair. Restoration Hardware’s version, name Magnus, looks identical to Emeco’s Naval Chair; however, if you take a closer look, Magnus has plastic fixtures underneath the seat, the Naval Chair does not.
Regardless of the subtle differences between the products, Emeco argues that the low price of the $129 Magnus is a frightening competitor of the $455 Navy Chair. Since the Navy Chair is Emeco’s key product, the company is concerned consumers will be tempted by the strikingly authentic looking, and cheaper, Magnus.
According to the New York Times Emeco’s lawyer’s filled suit against Restoration Hardware and former chief executive officer, “for what they claimed was unauthorized reproduction of the Navy chair, which Emeco Manufactures.”
Throughout history, furniture manufacturers have tolerated lower end knock-offs. Instead of fighting with manufacturers over look-a-likes, most authentic furniture manufactures have chosen to educate their consumers. The hope being that when the public can easily tell the difference between a knock-off and an authentic piece, the authenticity would be more desirable. So why is Emeco not rolling over? Apparently, Chairman Gregg Buchbinder views the threat as highly destructive. “If I don’t fight, it kills the company,” he said.
The question is this, are cheaper knock-off products a real threat to authentic manufactures? Horton Brasses Inc. continues to use actual antique hardware and original early American building methods in all its products. The history of the hardware has displayed a commitment to quality since 1936 in all its hardware reproduction.
Only consumers will decide which furniture reproduction and restoration manufactures will serve the future generations.