Corcoran Gallery of Art Exhibited and Sold Fake Rietveld Chairs
The Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington had an exhibit called "Modernism – Designing a New World 1914—1939". Believe it or not, most of the Rietveld chairs in the exhibit were knock-offs!
Cassina S.p.A. holds a registered trademark on use of the Rietveld name in the United States, and the worldwide exclusive rights to manufacture his furniture designs. Any "Rietveld" chair not made by Cassina is a fake.
In conjunction with the exhibit they are also selling the knock-offs in the gallery store. The Corcoran operates a design school and ought to know better. What a terrible example to set for their students!
The Corcoran has now removed the fake Rietveld chairs from their website and store in response to pressure from Cassina, and Genuine Design. These counterfeit products were in direct violation of Cassina's trademark.
M2L Announces Winning Essays For InauguralRead the winning essay here >>
“Genuine Design Scholarship”
(New York - April 2009)
M2L, a NY-based furniture importer and distributor specializing in modern design, is pleased to announce the winners of its first-ever Genuine Design Scholarship. Furthering the company’s mission of promoting authenticity, M2L developed this scholarship in conjunction with Ruth Lynford, founder of NY Eleven, to educate students about knockoffs and their harmful impact on the design industry. The scholarship was open to students at the twelve prestigious NY colleges that offer four-year programs in interior design. After reviewing responses from the participating schools, four students, including the top winner from Cornell University, were selected for their insightful and well-written essays.
To kick off the competition, M2L hosted and recorded a panel discussion at their showroom between moderator Fred Bernstein, M2L Founder Michael Manes, and designers Jeff Miller, Carlos Salgado and Benjamin Noriega-Ortiz to explore the subject of design and intellectual property. Students were asked to view the forum online or in their classroom and submit an essay on one of three possible questions relating to their understanding of design integrity.
Faculty members from the respective schools reviewed all of the students’ submissions and selected their top three choices. The finalists’ essays were then reviewed by a jury of top design journalists including: Paul Makovsky, editorial director, Metropolis; Annie Block, senior editor, Interior Design; Jana Schiowitz, senior editor, Hospitality Design; and Katie Weeks, senior editor, Contract. The judges based their decisions on both the academic and communication skills of the contestants.
First-prize winner Melanie Gowen, a design student at Cornell University, created a scenario of conversations and field trips meant to inform the client, who appreciated high-end design but was faced with a budget restraint. In the process, she beautifully illustrated how an ethically responsible designer would employ equal amounts of knowledge and tact in educating a client about the humanistic side of design philosophy. As an undergraduate design research assistant and student of Sheila Danko, professor of Design and Environmental Analysis, Gowen is keenly aware of the necessary interplay of creative, commercial and social aspects in the design world, and her discussion focused on ethics, integrity and sustainability. She particularly impressed the panel of judges with her command of the topic, both intellectually and practically.
Second-prize winner Kayne Rourke, enrolled in the Graduate Program of Interior Design at Pratt Institute under the care of Anita Cooney, Chair of the Interior Design Department, chose to write on the same topic. Rourke’s multi-faceted approach also involved a sequence of tutorials, exploratory missions and helpful graphics meant to educate the client about the issues surrounding genuine design. Her enthusiasm was contagious and her client couldn’t help but be both convinced by her argument and entranced by her strong examples. Mentioning that auctioned originals very often cost less than knockoffs, Rourke expands the ability to purchase original design to cost-conscious buyers.
Lawrence Chabra, studying at the NY School of Interior Design under the guidance of Associate Dean Ellen Fisher, won third prize for his well-written letter to Senator Charles Schumer. As instructed in this essay option, Chabra wrote a persuasive letter asking the Senator to consider amending the Design Piracy Prohibition Act to include furniture designers. His intellect and creativity were displayed in this detailed discussion of the legislation and suggestions for extending protection to furniture designers. The jury felt that Chabra was well versed and demonstrated a profound understanding of the material at hand.
Fourth prize recipient, Laine Blumenkopf, another pupil of Ellen Fisher at the NY School of Interior Design, also wrote to Senator Schumer. Her strong research and writing skills were evident in her letter to the New York State Senator. Her convincing argument included heartbreaking examples of furniture designers whose creations have been knocked off while those who cheated them were free to copy to their hearts’ content. She clearly showed why our country’s lawmakers should be addressing this particular example of intellectual piracy.
The four winners receive scholarships in the amount of $3500, $2500, $1500 and $1000, respectively.
Over the years we have become much more assertive in our approach since the practice of selling fakes has become more commonplace among designers, public companies and even museums. We began to name these organizations and post specific "consumer alerts" to put pressure on stopping these illegal and deceptive practices. After much public discredit, we started to see results.
Now we encounter Target - a company who trumpets design and creativity and who fiercely protects their own intellectual property and is actively selling counterfeit Le Corbusier designs on their website. This double standard must stop! We are calling on Target to do the right thing. We are giving them the benefit of the doubt that it was an oversight and that somebody made a bad decision in a very large organization.
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