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Interiors: When that chair is a steal

Not yet illegal in Ireland, fake designer furniture raises issues of ethics and economics

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Panton Chair produced by Vitra from Minima

Panton Chair produced by Vitra from Minima

Tip Ton chair, produced by Vitra from Minima

Tip Ton chair, produced by Vitra from Minima

Mariposa sofa produced by Vitra from Minima

Mariposa sofa produced by Vitra from Minima

Eames Plastic Chair DSW produced by Vitra from Minima

Eames Plastic Chair DSW produced by Vitra from Minima

The Fredericia Swoon chair from CA Design

The Fredericia Swoon chair from CA Design

Charles and Ray Eames on a Motorcycle

Charles and Ray Eames on a Motorcycle

Vitra organic chair from Minima

Vitra organic chair from Minima

Verner Panton (designer), Rolf Fehlbaum, Manfred Diebold and Josef Stürmlinger

Verner Panton (designer), Rolf Fehlbaum, Manfred Diebold and Josef Stürmlinger

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Panton Chair produced by Vitra from Minima

'You wouldn't steal a car, you wouldn't steal a handbag, you wouldn't steal a television, you wouldn't steal a movie."

Back in the mid-2000s, every rental DVD ran this public service announcement, accompanied by a video of a sinister person stealing these items. It concluded: "Downloading pirated films is stealing, stealing is against the law - piracy it's a crime!" It was aimed at preventing copyright infringement, but its main effect was to scare the bejaysus out of a generation of children and to spawn memes, most of them along the lines of 'You wouldn't download a car'.

You can't download a chair either, but it's not a crime to buy and sell fake designer furniture in Ireland. Opinion is divided about whether this is a good thing or not. Some people find it morally reprehensible. Others feel that it brings classic designs within the reach of those who can't afford the originals. The uber-iconic Arne Jacobsen Egg Chair (from €5,800) is reproduced under license by Fritz Hansen and the Irish supplier is Lost Weekend. Alternatively, you can buy a bootleg copy for less than a grand. This is by no means the same product, but it's made to look as close to the original as possible. One such item, the 'Egg Chair, inspired by Arne Jacobsen' costs €949 from Voga, a company that sells online but doesn't advertise its postal address.


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