To learn more or become a member of Be Original Americas,
WHY DID YOU JOIN BE ORIGINAL AMERICAS?
As a company that has built itself on proprietary design,
art, and creativity, it is particularly important to form an alliance with companies
that have a similar mandate. This organization is not only dedicated to supporting
integrity of original design, but also to call attention to those that disregard and
profit from copycatting.
HOW MUCH OF YOUR RESOURCES GO TOWARDS FIGHTING COUNTERFEITING?
At one time we devoted a great deal of energy and money to fight the various
American and Chinese companies that have directly knocked off our designs, but
eventually we found that these efforts distracted us from our business and our
forward momentum. We also did not see any satisfaction or remuneration for all our
efforts. The inherent difficulty in pursuing cases like this is why an organization like
this is so important.
TO WHAT EXTENT ARE PROFESSIONAL INTERIOR DESIGNERS AND ARCHITECTS AWARE
OF THE IMPACTS OF COUNTERFEITING UNIQUE TO THE A+D INDUSTRY?
Designers and architects are aware of counterfeiting, but some will substitute
our products for copies to meet a budget or increase profits. But I also find that
designers are very proud when they do use authentic Maya Romanoff product in
their high-profile projects. I feel that authentic products have a wow factor and an
elegance of design that will immediately distinguish itself from copycats.
WHERE DO DESIGNERS AND ARCHITECTS NEED TO BE BETTER EDUCATED?
Authenticity in original design and investing in elements that support a designer’s
vision should be a priority, as it will distinguish spaces from the status quo. Increasing
awareness through Be Original and through CEUs should be on the forefront to inform
designers the importance of the efforts and culture that goes behind original design.
IN THE COMMERCIAL MARKET, HOW MUCH OF THE KNOCK-OFF DEMAND IS COMING
FROM DESIGNER-SPECIFIERS VERSUS DEVELOPERS AND CONTRACTORS?
At times, designers that specify knock-offs are unaware of the original product, and
once they are in dialogue with a manufacturer who makes the knock-off, they are
not always confronted with this fact. That said, these replacements are mostly
coming from the purchasing side and contractors who will sacrifice the quality of
the interiors in order to meet budgets and build profits.
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?
Designers cannot promise that the finished space will have the proposed look when
inferior products are substituted. When designers are specifying their project, they need
to be savvy to their own budgets and know where they can invest, and know where they
need to hold back. We would prefer that designers replace our product with something
completely different as opposed to making something similar, but of subpar quality.
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?
Many times, unfortunately! I recently had a designer recount to me a story in which
our Mother of Pearl tiles shown above were literally falling off of a ceiling installation
in a hotel lobby. I was shocked and appalled, but when I looked into it, it wasn’t our
product at all! It is even more tragic to think that designers are out there thinking a
shabby knock-off is our product.
WHAT CAN DESIGNERS DO TO PRESERVE THE INTEGRITY OF THEIR WORK AND KEEP
THEIR SPECIFICATIONS ORIGINAL ONCE THE PROJECT IS IN THE HANDS OF A DEVELOPER?
If I only knew that answer!
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 do think that social activism and making these instances of imitation public on a
well-respected platform is the best way to counteract this ongoing issue. We are so
pleased to be aligned with Be Original Americas and the companies that invest time
and energy to move our cultural dialogue forward through innovative design.
TOP RIGHT Mother of Pearl Chevron tiles,
a Maya Romanoff original.