Last autumn, I had the opportunity to spend some time in Europe. One of my favourite memories was a visit to my cousin Inés Benavides’ home in Madrid and spending some time with her. Inés is not only one of my favourite cousins, but she is also considered to be one of the top interior designers in Spain, so you can imagine how excited I was to share some time with her.
Other than securing the position as favourite cousin while enjoying my time with her, I also learned a couple of things. Inés is not just well regarded as an interior designer in Spain; she is also an accomplished furniture designer. She has been designing pieces for the last 10 years with her cousin, Phil, under their firm Benavides y Camino.
One of Inés pieces “The Prensa” (Spanish for pressed, or squished) has become a signature piece for her and is rapidly becoming a staple in Spanish and European design. Many of her design colleagues are supporting her in her venture, using the piece to inject fun and colour into their designs.
One of the conversations we had was about something that is becoming a real problem across several industries – plagiarism. Sadly, as a result of her notoriety, people are now copying her work and taking advantage of her creativity. With her piece, “The Prensa”, rising in popularity, it has subsequently had a tremendous rise of knock-offs hitting the market – so much so, in fact, that she had to go to great lengths to copyright the piece.
When someone steals another’s idea, they are completely ignoring the process that it takes to conceive an original piece. For example, the time spent sketching, sculpting and planning the conceptual stages, the cost of making prototypes in addition to supporting the artisans that make these pieces.
In our conversation, we discovered that we shared a similar theory that there are 3 kinds of designers out there: (1) The designer who creates a signature piece/style and deserves the recognition for their efforts, (2) the designer that supports and admires original pieces of works – that takes them as inspiration and re- invents them in their own way, or uses the original pieces in their work supporting the original creators, and lastly (3) the designer who takes advantage and literally copies the work without any respect or ethics.
Ross Taylor owner of Gabriel Ross has the best tag line for his business, and has been a big supporter of this movement – Gabriel Ross tag line really encompasses the real value of design “Always Authentic” – As creatives we have the obligation to be “Always Authentic” and overall original. This is the core of any creative business.
We have all seen this tragedy happen - particularly with mid-century modern classics by Eames, Saarinen and the like – but I wanted to bring awareness to Ines’s talent and spread the word about her original pieces. Like all good design, beware of knock-offs, you get what you pay for!
Support original talent, do your research and invest wisely!