By Erika Templeton | Photography courtesy of Yellow Goat Design and Maya Romanoff
Yellow Goat Design
WHY DID YOU JOIN BE ORIGINAL AMERICAS?
We have been frustrated at the increasing amount
of projects where we have spent hours on custom
design work for clients that is then taken and “bid out” and fabricated by someone
else. This is also the case with our current designs from our catalogue. Our value
is in our design work. We don’t charge for our design process, so when clients
take our designs and get them made elsewhere, it hurts our business.
HOW MUCH OF YOUR RESOURCES GO TOWARDS FIGHTING COUNTERFEITING?
We are often trying to educate clients and guide them toward original
designs, turning down business that is asking us to knock off others’
designs, and are always following up on our specified projects to protect
our own design work from being taken elsewhere and copied.
WHERE DO DESIGNERS AND ARCHITECTS NEED TO BE BETTER EDUCATED?
We try to be as proactive as possible and are strategically weaving
awareness of design integrity into our process from the very beginning.
We are often approached with other peoples’ designs and are asked to
fabricate them in our factory. We have a standard response when people
ask us to do this: “We are designers ourselves and value design integrity
and therefore are not willing to knock-off other people’s designs.”
WHAT IS ONE SPECIFIC, ACTIONABLE ANTI-COUNTERFEITING LESSON ALL
DESIGNERS SHOULD HEAR?
We all, as designers, should value and protect design integrity.
This shouldn’t even be an issue in our industry. I find it completely ironic
that it is.
IN THE COMMERCIAL MARKET, HOW MUCH OF THE KNOCK-OFF DEMAND IS
COMING FROM DESIGNER-SPECIFIERS VERSUS DEVELOPERS AND CONTRACTORS?
Most of it is from purchasers/contractors who in my opinion most often have
no interest in the design, just the bottom dollar.
WHAT ROLE DO CLIENTS AND END USERS HAVE IN CURBING DEMAND FOR
COUNTERFEIT PRODUCTS, AND HOW CAN DESIGNERS BETTER EDUCATE THEM ON
THE ISSUES THROUGHOUT THE DESIGN PROCESS?
Budgeting for whatever design they want early on is helpful, and then under-standing and then communicating the work and hours that go into creating
designs. There is a lot of thought, time, and effort that goes into creating
something from nothing. If someone isn’t a designer, I find it’s incredibly
helpful to talk about the design process and not take for granted that
everyone knows and understands what goes into it.
HAVE YOU EVER HAD A PRODUCT SPECIFIED FOR A PROJECT, ONLY TO FIND OUT
THAT THE FINISHED SPACE EMPLOYED A KNOCK-OFF IN ITS PLACE?
All the time. We have seen spec sheets with our fixtures and another manufacturer listed. We get in contact with all parties involved and let them know
that our designs are proprietary and what they are doing is not acceptable.
WHAT CAN DESIGNERS DO TO PRESERVE THE INTEGRITY OF THEIR WORK AND
KEEP THEIR SPECIFICATIONS ORIGINAL ONCE THE PROJECT IS IN THE HANDS OF
We offer to write the designer’s specs for them and literally write into them
that the designs are proprietary and no substitutions are acceptable.
If we don’t write them for the designer, we advise them to include this
language in order to preserve their specification and design intent. We then
do our best to track the project from that point through to bidding and
purchasing, continuing to communicate to the parties involved after the
specs are submitted the fact that the designs are proprietary and knocking
them off is not acceptable.
LOOKING OUT FIVE YEARS FROM NOW, WHAT IMPROVEMENTS DO YOU HOPE TO
SEE IN THE INDUSTRY’S HANDLING OF COUNTERFEIT GOODS, AND WHAT IS BE
ORIGINAL AMERICAS DOING TO MOVE US IN THAT DIRECTION?
I think it’s educating the purchasers involved in these projects. And that
responsibility falls as much with us as designers/manufacturers as it does
with the specifiers and end users. Be Original Americas is definitely helpful in
empowering us to be more protective and proactive in protecting our designs
and it’s also a great forum for industry sharing. If we share experiences and
tactics that help preserve the integrity of design, we will make progress and
improvements. Communication and education is key.
As part of our continued support of Be Original Americas, an organization dedicated to fighting the proliferation
of knock-offs within A+D and beyond, we spoke with two members about their own struggles with counterfeiting,
and asked what designers and specifiers can do to make a difference through their own work.