Dezeen Magazine

Airbnb removes "knockoff" Navy Chairs from new headquarters

News: online home rental brand Airbnb is to replace a set of aluminium chairs at its new San Francisco headquarters after Emeco, the company that makes the original Navy Chair, pointed out that they were fakes.

Airbnb announced today that it will replace eight chairs after Emeco contacted Dezeen to point out that the chairs were imitations of its patented design.

"With our new office, we have worked hard to create a home for our employees that reflects our company's culture, values, and brand - including design," said Airbnb in a statement to Dezeen. "Now that it has been brought to our attention, in this instance we will replace the eight chairs with originals."

Emeco director of communications Martin Olsson-Prescott emailed Dezeen last week to complain about the fake chairs following our publication of the Airbnb offices, which were designed in-house by the company in homage to rental properties around the world.

Emeco chair
Original Emeco Navy Chair

"Unfortunately, we are obliged to make you aware of a knockoff product featured in that piece," Olsson-Prescott. "Seeing a knockoff chair in a Dezeen featured cool space like the Airbnb office would help validate the false form of a knock-off. And the few people who notice might question both Airbnb's designer and Dezeen's selectivity."

The Navy Chair, originally designed in 1944 for use on US Navy submarines, is one of the most widely copied designs of the last century and Emeco has been active in the courts to protect its intellectual property. Last year Emeco settled a lawsuit against American company Restoration Hardware, which was producing £50 copies of the £300 chair.

"We put a lot of efforts and investment into fighting knock-offs," said Olsson-Prescott, who told Dezeen readers what to look out for when searching for an original Navy Chair.

"There are many small details that distinguish a genuine Emeco Navy chair from a knockoff," he said. "In this case the biggest giveaway is the shape of the back, which is very rounded. And the spacing between the three bars in the back."

Emeco's Navy Chairs are created from recycled aluminium using a 77-step process and are guaranteed for 150 years.

In a video interview with Dezeen last year, Emeco CEO Gregg Buchbinder said his company was working with leading designers to create ever-more sophisticated products in order to deter copying. "The more difficult it is, the more difficult it is for people to knock it off," Buchbinder said.