Replicas, Copies, Duplicates, Imitations


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During the Design with Heritage venture,  ‘Augmented Objects’ funded projects are likely to be working with replicas of physical and digital objects, be that digital replicas of physical objects or physical replicas of digital objects – in some cases both.

One of the overarching questions for this work package is concerned with the authenticity of objects and how we might define these in the context of readily reproducible rapid prototypes, something that was highlighted this week by Antwerp-based designers Unfold. Their ‘Kiosk 2.0’ was recently nominated for the Design Museum’s Design of the Year Award, as a controversial project that presents replicas of artefacts by fellow nominees Phil Cuttance and Postler Ferguson (as reported on dezeen), alongside copies of Marcel Wanders’ Egg Vase, Alvar Aalto’s vase and Charles and Ray Eames’ wooden blackbird.

Some were reproduced using readily available models downloaded from the internet, others through the manual construction of an imitable prototype or script. Cuttance argued that “In craft there’s an inherent value that is hard to copy”, supporting the argument that began with the industrial revolution and setting the crafted object in opposition to its machined counterpart.

However 3D scanning and rapid prototyping allows an additional degree of accuracy when producing replicas, arguably complicating this philosophical relationship further and fueling questions about the value of the original vs. the copy, especially in light of the current limitations of rapid prototyped materials and techniques.