January 10, 2008

All The Furniture That's Fit To Knock Off: Kid-Sized O-Zone Looks A Lot Like Aarnio's Bubble Chair

O-Zone knockoff chair, daughter

The NYT Style section has a slideshow of funky kids chairs, including the Happy Cat beanbag chair [or as mfr Roommate calls it, the Fat Cat], that one shoehorn chair that's been hanging in the corner at Ikea for like ten years, and a "Breuer, put your crayons away!" chair/desk/table from Eric Pfeiffer's new 10grain collection.

But the real story is how the NYT gets all pumped about the kid-sized O-Zone chair [above] without even mentioning that it's a total knockoff of Eero Aarnio's Bubble Chair, right down to the standard silver cushions and the product shot using the designer's [sic] daughter.

Aarnio chair, daughters

Not only is Aarnio alive and kicking, he's making new children's furniture designs at this very moment. ModernHQ has some giant acrylic balls to knock off one of his iconic designs, especially when it's still in production. [They actually make a full-size 42" knockoff as well as the 30" kid's version.]

Still, maybe it'll all work out. When the Times cooed over the Mini-Mies Barcelona Chair knockoff by the Miami baby gurus at Genius Jones, it was just the kick in the pants Knoll needed to convince the Van Der Rohe estate to authorize a children's version. Maybe this'll encourage Aarnio and his people to pop out some kid-sized Bubbles.

Pull Up A Chair And Play [nytimes.com]
D'oh-zone: O-Zone Chair, "A classic from the start", 30-in. version, $995 [moderntots.com]
Yeah, almost! O-Zone Chair "is almost like a floating Ball Chair" [modernhq.com]

Bubble Chair, "the original by Adelta" [eero-aarnio.com]
Eero Aarnio Bubble Chair, $3,738 [hivemodern.com]

May 2006: I Shall Call Him Mini-Mies. At Least Until Knoll's Lawyers Come For Me.
Oct. 2007: Barcelonita! Knoll Makes Kid-Sized Barcelona Chair


Made by a former ad exec with a big oven and hot air blow molding rig in his/her garage?

[lol, close. It's run by an Orange County punk and a club promoter who do work for Paul Frank. Which puts them about one degree of separation from the Yo Gabba Gabba Industrial Complex. I'm afraid to dig. -ed.]

Does the purchase price consider that at age 5 my daughter will use the chair as a swing and smash my beautiful picture window?

Expensive, admitted knock offs from the people who brought you "Pervert Nurse"... weird.
When you admit you are knocking things off don't the Knoll and Herman Miller folks who own the rights to these things come knocking?
It's the equivalent of china town fake hand bags to me and I find it really strange that they would be proud of themselves.

[no kidding about the knockoffs. though actually, it doesn't appear that Joe Tatar was playing with D.I. when they first recorded "Pervert Nurse," only when the band re-formed and re-released it on their 2002 compilation album "Caseyology." -ed.]

@Shawna: It's almost impossible to go after someone doing this. If there were design or utility patents issued, they are now long expired. The only basis you could use is trade dress infringement, and that's a tough case. Especially since this design has been knocked off since the 60's, and if they haven't attempted to enforce it in that time, they have ceded their right to the trademark.

As a designer, I don't really have much problem with people knocking off old designs (mine included, however unlikely that is). Design patents are good for 14 years. That seems fair. After that you should be able to compete on quality or price. Herman Miller still does well selling old Eames stuff, despite loads of good knockoffs being on the market.

Knocking off newer designs is a different thing. And neither is as bad as fake purses and watches, where you are copying the logo, trademarks, etc. The police come for you when you do that.

[though I have fun pointing out the knockoffery, I have to agree, especially in this case. Aarnio's website calls his "the original Bubble Chair," which is probably the total extent of their response to knockoffs. To ModernHQ's credit, they actually produced a new, smaller, kid-size variant, and they rather frankly acknowledge their sources, at least in articles. What probably tripped up Genius Jones more than anything was their calling it a Mini-Mies, which Knoll could argue is an infringement on the Mies trademark. Since Aarnio's is not Bubble ChairTM, he's SOL. Also, his costs 2-4x as much. -ed.]

Not to be a buzz-kill, but doesn't IKEA have something fairly similar for about $65?

Hey, Greg, I've been under a rock. Congrats on the baby!

[thanks, it's going suspiciously well. do you mean the Lomsk? that pod chair with the foldover canopy? -ed.]

That it exactly. I know, not the same thing, but I bet I could chain it to the ceiling for less than $900. Not sure how to make it transparent though...

grandma brought a lomsk chair to our house for christmas...i don't think the wee one would like it as much because if it's clear like the bubble chair, she couldn't hide in it. nothing like hearing evil laughter our of your child because she thinks mommy can't find her.

[the kid makes a beeline for those chairs every time we go to Ikea. she loves hiding in those things. we probably would've bought one at some point, if only the floor samples didn't look so beat to hell and grungy. . -ed.]

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