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Saturday, February 13, 2016

The "new" France & Son

Five years ago, a company was started with the mission "to set the trend in replica and original designs, providing the opportunity for everyone to create homes and spaces with an edge and at a budget that everyone could afford."

I admit that at first I was a little put off that they chose to appropriate the name "France & Son" from that of the well-known 20th century Danish manufacturing company which ultimately put into production the designs of a number mid-century icons, such as Arne Vodder, Grete Jalk, Peter Hvidt & Orla Molgaard-Nielsen, Finn Juhl, and Ole Wanscher. I could find no mention of the original company on their website, nor a disclaimer saying they have no connection to that historic company.

To be fair, they are under no legal or ethical obligation to do so, since the original company has not existed for decades. However, my concern was, and still is, that some people who are familiar with the name of the Danish company but do not know its history might be misled by the new company's name.

That said, after receiving numerous promotional emails from the company, I decided to make a purchase and take a look at the quality of the products they sell. I ordered their $39.99 walnut version of the Eames Hang-It-All, which is sold by Herman Miller for $299.

The Herman Miller version measures 14.7H x 19.7L x 6.5D, while the France & Son version measures 15.5H x 19.75L x 7D. I was quite pleased with the sturdiness and workmanship of the France & Son version, considering the difference in price, and I can justify spending $40 for a coat rack far more easily than I can justify spending $300.

Once a real purist about mid-century design, my attitude began to shift after doing some research for this blog. If you'd like to know why, see the links below.


France & Son version of Eames Hang-It-All

Close-up of France & Son version of Eames Hang-It-All

NOTE: A recurring theme on this blog has to do with legal and ethical issues surrounding knock-offs, reproductions and reissues. Whenever I broach this subject, I always reference a series of three "Is It Real?" posts I did in 2011 for any new readers who would like to examine the topic in more detail. First post : According to a Collector; second post: According to a Manufacturer; third post: According to an Heir

10 comments:

  1. Ooooh...for $40, I'll have to give this a try!

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    1. It's the best $40 I've spent in a while, for sure!

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  2. Replies
    1. It comes in gray, white, and multi-color too.

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  3. Thanks for sharing this Dana! I splurged on the original but have been wanting another for my upstairs bath so I will investigate this - a $40 price tag sounds amazing for so much design! Cheers - CT

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    1. If you buy one, I hope you'll post some pictures of it in your bathroom.

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  4. We've just bunged our Noguchi (knock-off!) coffee table in "the shed" Dana. I couldn't bear looking at it, knowing it wasn't the real Mc Coy any longer! (plus I hated all those fingerprints on the glass)
    Faking it until you make it? I get it, but I'm torn.
    I hope you are well and enjoying your new home x

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    1. I understand completely. I admit that I get more pleasure looking at my "genuine articles," but I wonder why that is. Do I want a direct connection to the 20th century? Do I simply want bragging rights? I'm not sure. I have a hard time reconciling those feelings with the ones I feel when I buy generic prescription drugs, which doesn't bother me in the least. Same principle...buying a copy after the patent on the name brand expires. Interesting that big pharmas are protected for 20 years, while a design patent only lasts 14 years.

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  5. I just went back and read the three "Is it real?" articles and really enjoyed them. They were thought-provoking. I think for me, it depends a lot upon whether or not the differences between the real and the "not real" are to my liking. I find a lot of the "not real" have something out of balance or not visually pleasing in some way or other. That's usually what stops me from buying them. The other thing I tend to like about the real version is that it's often made in the US, while the others are not. So many things to think about.

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  6. Another way to look at it is perhaps the designer was always thinking of it as an affordable product that all could purchase and he/she is smiling from heaven.

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