Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Double Take: Urban Outfitters and George Nelson Wood Slat Benches

Yet more strangely familiar home furnishings from Urban Outfitters ...

This time, Urban takes on a modern classic: George Nelson's 1946 Platform Bench for Herman Miller. Urban's Haruki Slat Bench is $225; the officially licensed Nelson design is $629 at Hive Modern. I've always admired Nelson's simple, versatile design, which can be used as either a coffee table or seating.

In comparison, I'm not crazy about the relative flimsiness or the arched, Asian-contempo styling on the legs of Urban Outfitters' version. But the price is pretty nice.

If you're going to go for a cheap ripoff, though -- and I don't necessarily recoil in horror at the thought, especially for those of us on an Urban-size budget and especially when a large corporate entity is ripping off a decades-old iconic design vs. still-struggling indie designers -- I prefer this one, $229 from Modern Collections. At least it mimics the chunkiness and the mix of wood tones that Nelson used in his original.

Still, since the difference is hundreds rather than thousands of dollars -- and since the original platform bench has stood the test of time for over 60 years -- I think I'd go for the real thing.

What about you?


L.A. Gries said...

Hey there Leah,
Love your blog! I thought your readership would want to know about the ridiculous return policies at Hive Modern. I purchased two small Lucite “Jolly” tables from them for $332 + $10 shipping. The tables came directly from the manufacturer, Kartell. I opened the boxes, took them out, put them in my TV room and immediately determined that they were too small and had to go back. Should be easy, right? Oh no. First they told me the items were “non stock items” and, therefore, not returnable. When I told them that the web site made no mention of this, they reneged and told me I could return them for STORE CREDIT ONLY, even though I purchased them with a credit card. (It does say this in fine print on the web site….although the practice seems so ancient…) So, off to the UPS Store last Saturday where I found out that each box (that’s EACH box) would cost me $40 to ship back to Oregon. $80!!!!!!!! The tables only cost $166 each. Ridiculous, I say. When I called them today to ask about the $10 shipping (like, could I get that same rate using their name or something?) they laughed and told me that they don’t really pay $10 to ship, it’s just a placeholder and they lose money on the shipping, actually. Have you ever heard of anything so crazy? I must say, I’m really irritated. I will NEVER shop there again. I encourage you to tell this story so others don’t make the same mistake I did.

Anonymous said...

Hi Leah,

I realize your post about the George Nelson benches is from some time ago but I just came from an estate sale where I barely missed out on snagging what I think was one of his benches. Here's my question, I see from your blog there are many knock-offs. This looked like the real thing but had either "Lea" or "Leo" (in script) stamped on the bottom. Do you know if this would have then been a knock-off?

Thanks so much,
Carole from St. Louis


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