Ah, Hans Wegner. Now there’s a Great Dane I’d have enjoyed a good old sit-down with. Of the many incredible chairs the Danish master built, the Wishbone, designed in 1949, is surely the most gorgeous of all.
This is the very chair you see in drool-inducing photos of ‘orkitects’ houses in magazines – yep, those houses that make us utterly hate our flat-pack, Wishbone-free lives. The Wishbone is still being made by Carl Hansen & Sons and here’s the rub: they cost roughly €800 each.
Poor Hans must be spinning in his grave to see Next’s Autumn/Winter 2013 campaign, which contains a dead ringer for the real thing. Next’s solid oak ‘retro-inspired’ chair is so much of a Wishbone wannabe, you don’t even have to squint a bit. Curvy bent arms: check. Y-shaped backrest: yip. Tasteful oak finish: you got it. The price tag? Roughly a quarter of the original, at €447 for two.
Furniture purists will say that Next is pushing the boundaries of copyright with this design. In the UK, Elle Décor magazine even has a ‘Down-with-this-sort-of-thing’ campaign to rid the market of cheap design imposters. I see their point. Copies are often inferior and being mass-produced, will always lack the solidity and durability of the real thing.
And buying one, surely, is the furniture shopping equivalent of buying a knocked-off Chanel handbag from the boot of someone’s car. The trouble is, the market for so-called ‘inspired-by’ furniture is massive and it’s legal. What’s more, I so often find myself craving a designer look but so rarely find myself with an extra grand to spend on a chair.
Cogging is cogging, but… is shopping ever just shopping? What would YOU do?