From left: Kartell Louis Ghost Chair (706.00€ from Kartell); Transparent Plastic Chair ($61.20 from Lazada)

Replica designer furniture? Well, even if you’re not aware, you probably have a couple of fake designer furniture at home.

The counterfeit furniture scene is massive. In 2021, the US-based publisher FastCompany released an article detailing the hefty US$4 billion problem that the knockoff furniture industry is bringing. Unfortunately, this fake furniture situation has spiraled out of control.

In the pursuit of cheap, we have tarnished the livelihoods of brilliant furniture designers, and demolished the way for any aspiring designers.

“But, is it truly my fault if I bought one of these fake designer chairs… without even knowing it was fake in the first place?”, you might ask. That’s where design education comes in.

If only you knew.

In fact, most of us sit on one of these fake designer chairs day in and out – from our homes, to our offices, restaurants, clinics, hospitals, and even kopitiams. Here are 10 common chairs that you didn’t know were fakes.

Tolix Chair (€294)

Aha! This metal chair that you see in every “industrial” cafe in Singapore.

This chair, called the Tolix A Chair (or Chaise A), was originally designed in 1927 by the late French designer Xavier Pauchard. Pauchard was known for his ironwork techniques. He would dip iron in a 450°C zinc bath before he shaped the iron into his desired designs. The original Tolix chair is also rust-proof since it’s been galvanised in zinc. Finally, the chair looks like it’s a little too bulky to be stacked. Yet, thanks to its clever design, the chair can be stacked practically.

From left: The original Tolix Chair (€294); the Bartel Chair in Black by HipVan ($59); the Retro Metal Chair in Black by Fortytwo ($49.90); Tolix Barstool with wooden seat by Lazada ($63)

Today, you’ll find fakes of the Tolix A Chair in practically every city across the globe. In Singapore alone, you will find replicas of the Tolix on popular furniture shops and websites such as HipVan, Fortytwo, and Lazada.

Wishbone Chair by Hans Wegner ($1,563)

Seen in many rustic and idyllic Bali-inspired home interior designs these days, this chair actually has a name – the CH24 Wishbone Chair. The original Wishbone Chair was designed by the late Danish designer Hans J. Wegner in 1949 for the Danish furniture store, Carl Hansen & Son.

In 1950, the Wishbone chair formally went into production. Owing to its popularity, the Wishbone chair remains in production to date.

From left clockwise: CH24 Wishbone Chair by Hans Wegner ($1,563), HipVan Caine Chair ($299), Born in Colour Onska Y Dining Chair ($299); Y Chair Solid Wood on Lazada ($56.40); Lush Wishbone Chair ($440)

While the original Wishbone Chair will set you back by $1,563 from the Finnish Design Shop in Singapore, dupes will cost you anywhere from $56 to $440 from online furniture shops such as Lazada, HipVan, Born in Colour, and Lush.

Swan Chair by Fritz Hansen

The staple lounge chair of all office lobbies actually has a name. It’s called the Swan Chair, designed by the late architect and furniture designer Arne Jacobsen in 1958. Befittingly, Jacobsen initially designed this chair for the hotel lobby of the SAS Royal Hotel in Copenhagen.

From left: The original Swan Chair by Arne Jacobsen from W Atelier ($9,240); Swan Lounge Chair Replicas from Comfort Furniture ($495 for two)

In Singapore, W Atelier carries the original Swan Chair at an eye-popping $9,240 for a basic version. Replicas, however, cost $495 (for a set of two) from Comfort Furniture.

Egg Chair by Fritz Hansen

Again, another corporate office lobby favourite. Similar to the Swan Chair, the Egg Chair was designed by the late Danish designer Arne Jacobsen in 1958 for the lobbies of the SAS Royal Copenhagen Hotel.

Despite the heavyweight look and presence of the chair, it is relatively lightweight at 18.1kg. The ergonomic shape and design also made a splash in the furniture design community, Over the years, the Egg Chair has grown to be synonymous with Jacobsen’s career.

From Left: The original Fritz Hansen Egg Chair ($19,480 from W Atelier); Grey Egg Replica Chair ($525.90 from Fortytwo); Quality Designer Egg Chair ($576 from Lazada)

Today, W Atelier carries the original Fritz Hansen Egg Chairs in Singapore at a whopping $19,480 price tag. Fakes don’t come cheap either. A replica Egg Chair will set you back by $525.90 from HipVan, and $576 from Lazada.

Kartell Masters Chair

The most common kopitiam chair of all time – this stackable plastic chair was originally designed by Philippe Starck and Eugeni Quitllet in 2009 for Kartell. This chair was the designers’ way of paying homage to Arne Jacobsen, Eero Saarinen, and Charles Eames.

Owing to its curvy shape, striking and memorable design, and its versatility (can be used indoors and outdoors), the Kartell Masters Chair quickly cemented itself a place in modern furniture design history.

From left: The Original Kartell Masters Chair ($450 from Space); Camelia Designer Chair Black ($28.90 from Fortytwo); Philippe Starck Masters Inspired Chair ($36.90 from Lazada); Philippe Starck Masters Replica Chair ($36.90 from Megafurniture)

In Singapore, you will be able to find the original Kartell Masters Chair at Space Furniture. It’s priced at an affordable $450. Fakes range from $28.90 to $36.90 on online furniture websites such as Fortytwo, Lazada, and Mega Furniture.

Kartell Louis Ghost Chair

The Kartell Ghost Chair was designed by French industrial designer Philippe Starck in 2004 for the Italian furniture makers Kartell.

It is modelled after the Neo-Classic Louis XVI Chair from the 1700s, albeit in a material that encapsulates modern humanity – plastic.

The Ghost Chair is famous for many reasons – it’s made entirely from a single mould, it’s a plastic rendering of an extremely classic French chair, it’s versatile and suitable for both indoors and outdoor, it’s collision proof, and stackable.

From left: Kartell Louis Ghost Chair (706.00€ from Kartell); Transparent Plastic Chair ($61.20 from Lazada)

Priced at €706 (for a set of two) on the official Kartell website, this chair is positioned as an entry-level and affordable designer furniture. The use of plastic makes competitive pricing possible for Kartell – which also harks back to the cleverness of using a cheaper material so more people can afford genuine designer furniture.

You will be able to find the entire Kartell Ghost collection in Singapore and multiple stockists. Take note that there are both armchair and non-armchair versions of the Ghost Chair (called the Victoria Ghost Chair).

For example, you will be able to get the Louis Ghost Chair at $680 from Space, and the Victoria Ghost Chair at $490 from Royal. Replicas range from $61.60 from Lazada to $85.90 from Fortytwo.

Eames Molded Plastic Chair

Seen in most corporate office pantries, the Eames Molded Chair (or Eames Shell Chair) was designed by Charles and Ray Eames in 1940. The original design was in molded plywood. However, it was later produced in plastic and fibreglass.

The Eames Molded plastic chair was a breakthrough because it was a multi-purpose chair. You could also modularly switch up the legs into rocking legs.

The Eames Molded Plastic Chair is available for purchase at Xtra in Singapore. Prices are not available online.

In Singapore, you will be able to find the original Eames Molded Plastic Chair from furniture retailer, Xtra. Prices are not available online, and you’ll have to make an enquiry to purchase. Dupes range from $18.90 to $19 on Jiji and Fortytwo.

Eames Lounge Chair & Ottoman

Moving on to the de facto tow kay lounge chair of Singapore – the Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman. Designed by Charles and Ray Eames in 1956, this classic lounge chair came about when Charles Eames wanted to redesign the English club chair.

From left: The Original Eames Lounge Chair & Ottoman (US$7,495 on Herman Miller); Black Eames Replica Lounge Chair ($1,352.90 from Fortytwo); White Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman ($1,199 from Choice Furniture Lazada)

Charles and Ray Eames’ modular approach to the lounge chair allows you to choose your own colour and design combinations. The wooden shells, cushions, arm rests, and metal legs are all assembled separately – which allows the lounge chair to be coordinated to perfectly marry into its surroundings.

In Singapore, you will have to order the Eames Lounge Chair from Xtra. Again, prices are not transparent online. Fakes are pretty pricey as well, ranging from $1,199 to $1,352.90 at Choice Furniture and Fortytwo.

Herman Miller Aeron Chair

In this post-Covid and WFH age that we live in, we’re all familiar with ergonomic chairs. We’ve got Ergo Tune, Secret Lab, OSIM uThrone and so much more. However, the OG ergonomic office chair that made waves way back in 1994 was the Herman Miller Aeron Chair.

Designed by American furniture designers Bill Stumpf and Don Chadwick, the Aeron Chair quickly cemented itself a classic icon status. Why was the Aeron chair so famous? Back then, ergonomic furniture and the use of breathable textile was pretty revolutionary. Of course, if you’ve ever tried an Aeron chair in person, you might just understand how comfortable it is.

Herman Miller’s Aeron Chair comes in three sizes – A, B, and C.

If you live in Singapore, you will be able to pop by the Marina Square Xtra store to physically try on the Herman Miller Aeron chairs. Prices of the Aeron chair range from $1,888 to $3,279 at Xtra.

Replicas of the Herman Miller Aeron chair are aplenty. Some of them are “pre-loved” or “reconditioned” Herman Millers.

Barcelona Chair by Knoll

Finally, another office reception staple is the black, quilted-looking sofa. Today, this is a pretty generic sofa design that can be found anywhere and everywhere. However, the original is from the American furnishing company, Knoll.

The Barcelona Chair was designed by the German-American architect, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, between 1929 and 1931. The chair embodies “less is more” and exceptional craftsmanship.

While the chair looks like yet another quilted sofa, it actually is made up of 40 individual square cowhide leather hand-sewn together.

From left: The original Barcelona Chair by Knoll (US$7,974); Barcelona Chair in Black PU ($670.90 from Fortytwo); Benton Chair ($2,179 from HipVan).

The original Barcelona chair comes in three colours – black (US$7,974), parchment (US$7,974), and white (US$10,448 from Knoll). Fakes of the Barcelona Chair by Knoll range from $670 to $2,179 from Fortytwo and HipVan.

Will you buy any of these replica designer chairs? Why? Let us know!