Defeating Design Knock-Offs with Susan Lyons

Defeating Design Knock-Offs with Susan Lyons

08/02/2018 By Kadie Yale

With more than half a century in the industry, Designtex has created a wide variety of materials for the built environment, from textiles to wall coverings to surface technology. Having over 8,000 materials in its growing catalog, keeping track of counterfeits in the industry can be a daunting challenge. i+s spoke with Susan Lyons, president of Designtex, about the design process, knock-offs, and why her company is a member of Be Original Americas.

interiors+sources: What goes into the design process of a product? How does this differ from counterfeits?

Susan Lyons: User research, material research, concept development, prototype development, physical testing, application testing, color development, sampling, and distribution—each step ensures that the product will perform for the intended application.

Knock-offs take a “skin deep” approach, replicating the surface qualities of the design, but often miss building in the critical wear characteristics of a product. This means that the product may look something like the original, but it won’t last or perform like the original.

i+s: What are your thoughts about the “20-percent rule”—that a product isn’t copying if it’s changed by 20-percent? This is a problem in the graphic design world, but does it create problems within the textile industry?

SL:  We have successfully taken legal action against knock-offs, but it can be difficult. There are lots of ideas out there in the collective consciousness—a polka dot is a polka dot is a polka dot—these are ideas that are difficult to own. However, there are many textiles that are clearly unique and copying them is wrong.

i+s: Is there any way for someone to tell is a product is Designtex or a knock-off?

SL: If it is coming from our distribution network, it is our product. If it is available through an alternative channel, it may be a knock-off.

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i+s: Why did Designtex choose to join Be Original Americas?

SL: Designtex values original thought and inquiry. We believe that it should be encouraged and nurtured. Ultimately, knock-offs hurt the industry and hurt the people and the companies that are designing and making original work.

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