Herewith the press release – issued after my last ‘Designer Deceit’ blog post – by Iconic Lights, the Manchester-based online company that profits from selling reproductions of classic designs.
Press Release October 2, 2011
CLASSIC ARCO FLOOR LAMP TRIGGERS FURIOUS REPRODUCTION DEBATE
An internationally renowned interiors expert has sparked a heated debate involving the Prime Minister’s wife over whether reproductions of iconic designs are ever appropriate.
In her blog, Michelle Ogundehin, the Editor-in-Chief of ELLE Decoration, which claims to be the world’s best-selling homes magazine, described Samantha Cameron, as ‘cheap, hypocritical and fake’ for buying a legitimate reproduction of one of the most iconic Italian-designed lights.
Michelle said: ‘I was extremely disconcerted, and hugely irritated, when I read recently that Samantha Cameron had bought a knock-off Arco lamp – that’s all we need, I thought, the endorsement of faux-furniture by the Prime Minister’s wife!
‘I wonder then if this was another misguided attempt by Camp Cameron to be seen to be austerity-conscious? In which case she’d have been better off buying nothing. Whether we like it or not, part of the reason we buy certain goods is because of the message it sends to other people about our taste and status.’
Samantha Cameron bought her reproduction of the dramatic Arco lamp with its white marble base for £250 from Iconic Lights, which provides designer lighting and replica design classics at affordable prices. The Arco lamp was designed by brothers Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni in 1962. Inspired by street lamps, it was intended to provide easy illumination over a dining table without the need for overhead wiring. David Gutfreund, Managing Director of Iconic Lights, which has sold thousands of reproductions of the Arco light to customers across the world, hit back, branding Michelle Ogundehin “elitist”.
Mr Gutfreund said: “The law makes it quite clear that product designers can enjoy up to a maximum of 25 years to benefit from the fruit of their work. After that, it’s completely legal for those ideas to be shared with the world.
“If Michelle Ogundehin’s rules applied to the world of medicine, Paracetemol would never have been made available inexpensively to everyone. Likewise, the internal combustion engine was invented by Gottlieb Daimler, but today billions of us are driving cars thanks to his technology.
“Lots of original ideas and designs in everyday life were originally protected but are now rightly available to society as a whole. I do not want to live in a world where the greatest designs and inventions are the preserve of an elitist minority.
“Samantha Cameron is not alone in choosing a reproduction of a classic. Many interior designers and architects specify reproduction products, particularly during the current challenging economic times.
“Only people with more money than sense would pay as much as six times’ more for the same thing. I’m sure that if Castiglioni was alive today, he would approve of our reproduction and would find it hard to tell the difference. In some ways, we have even improved his light by producing a number of special editions of the Arco in all black and all white.”