Many of us armed with tools and skills have, at some point, seen something we wanted to buy—then decided we'd rather build it ourselves, either to save money or for the fun of it. So, here's a sticky question: With design piracy being such a hot-button issue, how do you feel about someone knocking off an existing design, as a one-off for their own personal use? And does it differ if the design is considered a classic?
For example, let's say you had the capability to create bentwood forms, do metalworking and upholstery, and you decided to make yourself an Eames Lounge Chair for your living room. Your friends would probably be impressed. Versus the stink you might have on you for copying an end table that you saw at this year's Salone.
I ask this because I recently came across this post of a father-and-son team building a desk with built-in cable management. The desk is a knock-off of the Bluelounge StudioDesk, minus the routed cable slot. Similarly, I follow a DIY blog written by a young mother living in the Alaskan wilderness. She frequently blogs about seeing a nice piece of furniture at Pottery Barn, not being able to afford it, and using her skills to build a copy for herself.
My first thought with the desk was, that's a cool bonding experience for a father to share with his kid. Similarly, I cut the DIY mom some slack because she's on a budget and I admire her skills. Both parties presumably build these things for personal use, not to sell, so it doesn't jump out at me the way for-profit design copies do, even though I realize neither of my defenses for them would stand up in court.
What are your thoughts? Have you ever knocked anything off for yourself? How would you feel if you were the original designer? And lastly, do the educational aspects of constructing a duplicate design outweigh any wrongdoing? (An early art-school assignment I remember is the standard trace-the-Rembrandt, and the first piece of furniture I ever built in class was Gerritt Rietveld's Red-and-Blue chair, fully sanctioned by the professor, in order to learn about joinery.) Let us know in the comments below.