10 popular furniture replicas that are now outlawed by UK copyright

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10 popular furniture replicas that are now outlawed by UK copyright

New copyright laws in the UK have come into effect, banning replicas of some of the most-copied icons of 20th century furniture design – including pieces by Arne Jacobsen, and Charles and Ray Eames (+ slideshow).

As of 28 July 2016, dealers cannot make or import new furniture copies. After a transitional period of six months, they will no longer be able to sell them either.

The change brings the UK – once derided as "a Trojan Horse for the importation of copies into Europe" – into line with the rest of the EU, which has longer-lasting copyright protections.

While the future of the laws may be uncertain following June's Brexit vote, for the time being UK copyright protections for industrial design have been extended. They've changed from 25 years after an item is first marketed to 70 years from the death of the creator.

This is the result of the repeal of section 52 of the Copyright, Designs and Patent Act 1988, which previously exempted industrially manufactured pieces from the copyright protections afforded to artistic works.

Although there's still a legal grey area for items "inspired by" designer classics and boasting only small differences from the originals, the shift could spell the end for businesses that rely on rip-offs.

Here are 10 of the most copied designs that are now protected:


Eames DSW chair, 1950

Designed by: Charles (1907–1978) and Ray (1912–1988) Eames

UK copyright protected furniture

The plastic Eames DSW chair with its Eiffel Tower-like base is one of the most copied pieces of furniture. Discount supermarket chain Aldi was recently selling pairs of replica Eames chairs for £39.99. That's a fraction of the £339 it costs to buy a single authorised version of the chair, manufactured for the UK market by Swiss design brand Vitra.

While UK law deemed the chair out of copyright 25 years after its marketing in 1950, the repeal effectively means it will be protected until 2058, 70 years after Ray's death.

The Eameses were famously advocates for democratic, affordable design, so the merit of replicas of their furniture is often a subject of debate among their fans.


Arne Jacobsen Egg chair, 1958

Designed by: Arne Jacobsen (1902–1971)

UK copyright protected furniture

Originally designed for the Radisson SAS hotel in Copenhagen, Denmark, Arne Jacobsen's Egg easy chair has since been manufactured by Republic of Fritz Hansen.

Recognisable to the British public as the diary room chair from the first series of Big Brother, it can be bought for £559 through replica retailer Vita Interiors. That compares to £4,283 from Fritz Hansen. The design is now protected until 2041.


Hans Wegner Wishbone chair, 1950

Designed by: Hans Wegner (1914–2007)

UK copyright protected furniture

Also known as the CH24, the Wishbone chair has been in continual production by Carl Hansen & Sons since 1950. Its name comes from its characteristic Y-shaped back.

Retailing for £504 at design store Skandium, a version of the chair can also be purchased for £120 from Swivel UK. The Danish design classic is now copyright protected in the UK until 2077.


Barcelona chair, 1929

Designed by: Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886–1969)

UK copyright protected furniture

Even though it was designed a full 87 years ago, the leather and chrome Barcelona chair remains one of the most iconic seats of the 20th century.

It will now be copyright protected in the UK until 2039. The official version manufactured by Knoll, retails for £5,232. Replicas can be purchased for £455 from Swivel UK.


Tolix chair, 1934

Designed by: Xavier Pauchard (1880–1948)

UK copyright protected furniture

By contrast, the Tolix chair, designed five years after the Barcelona, will be newly copyright protected for only the next two years. The new copyright provisions cover designs for 70 years after the death of the creator, and Tolix's French designer, Xavier Pauchard, passed away 68 years ago.

The metal Tolix has been a ubiquitous design, with replicas available in supermarket chain Tesco for £59.99. Still made by original manufacturers Tolix, the official version retails for £187.


Jean Prouvé Standard chair, 1950

Designed by: Jean Prouvé (1901–1984)

UK copyright protected furniture

French designer and architect Jean Prouvé first began work on the Standard chair in 1934, although it wasn't released until 1950. Traditionally manufactured in wood and steel, it has a distinctive shape with thin front legs and more robust, load-bearing back legs.

While Vitra holds the licence to manufacture it in the UK, where it retails for £547, an "identical" chair can be bought through Voga for €124. The UK's new copyright provisions will protect the Standard Chair until 2054.


E1027 side table, 1927

Designed by: Eileen Gray (1878–1976)

UK copyright protected furniture

Previously out of copyright since 1952, the E1027 will now by protected in the UK until 2046. Gray originally designed the adjustable metal table for her own house, wanting a multipurpose item that could serve as an occasional, side or bedside table.

Aram Designs holds the worldwide licence for Gray's designs, and sells the E1027 for £510. At Swivel UK, the replica is £108.


Isamu Noguchi coffee table, 1944

Designed by: Isamu Noguchi (1904–1988)

UK copyright protected furniture

Sculptor and designer Isamu Noguchi is said to have described this 1944 coffee table as his best furniture design. Now manufactured by Vitra and sold for £1,324, it is replicated by the likes of Swivel UK for £230. It is now copyright protected until 2058.


LC2 sofa, 1965

Designed by: Le Corbusier (1887–1965)

UK copyright protected furniture

Designed in 1928 and manufactured in the year of his death, Le Corbusier's LC2 is described as "the archetype of the modern chair" by manufacturers Cassina.

Its three-seater version retails for £9,024 from Nest, while replicas are available for £1,293. It is now copyright protected in the UK until 2035.


PH Artichoke lamp, 1958

Designed by: Poul Henningsen (1894–1967)

UK copyright protected furniture

Danish architect Poul Henningsen's Artichoke lamp has a distinctive form that has proven difficult to copy. That doesn't mean plenty haven't tried.

Danish lighting manufacturer Louis Poulsen holds the license to the suspension light, which retails with authorised dealer Nest for £5,445, while replica company Voga sells its copy for €478 (£400). Its copyright protection in the UK now extends until 2028.