I was recently walking a “big box store” – nameless for now – and noticed some private label cabinet hardware that carried an uncanny similarity to a design I did for Amerock a few years ago. This doesn’t bother me as this sort of thing happens all time. You know what they say about imitation and flattery.
Here are the designs at the ‘Box:
Here are my designs for Amerock, designed around 2007:
My designs have a subtle curve the ‘Box models lack, but looking at the knob in particular I think we can say my designs have undoubtedly provided the inspiration for these retail pieces.
Discussing plagiarism in design is a important topic and a little too deep for me to tackle today. In this case Amerock is not sold in this particular store; the product manager probably wanted to have something similar to my design, but could not find it in their manufacturer’s catalog. In today’s product development environment, it’s simply a matter of sending a drawing (or “inspirational sample”) to your Far East factory and ordering the minimum quantity to have something very close in your store.
Another situation I have been meaning to post about is what happens to a design when it gets passed over for launch, but then mysteriously shows up in somebody else’s product lineup. This happened with a mid-century-inspired bow handle I did back in the mid 2000’s. Here is my design:
You are looking at a die cast and chrome plated “actual handle”, and two development prototypes. At some point I changed the design from the awful 3-banded idea to this simple and frankly, “familiar” bow handle design that would have been a typical design in the 1930-50’s. Our product team rejected the design in the end however, and we went ahead with some other products. The die cast mold went on a shelf in China.
Then, a matter of a few months later I saw my design in the display of a competing hardware company, here in the US. The factory had simply flipped it over to somebody else! I studied it very closely but I was convinced it was mine and not some crazy coincidence. Here is Haefele’s handle:
It may not be the actual mold, but the engineers could have changed it a touch and then passed the product over to this other buyer. I just can’t see how my design would otherwise be so similar. I have nothing against Hafele here at all – it’s been years since I have done this design and I just find it amusing. I wonder how many of my other “rejected” designs may be out there under another company?
In other news, I have designed the kitchen area for another store for Pirch, the exciting appliance and fixture retailer – a great location in downtown New York. The opening is later this month; look for a feature on the store in a few weeks time.