Knocking off and Why You Should Never Do It
It may seem obvious that copying other people’s designs is wrong, yet sometimes people do make a request to knock off someone else’s design. There will always be a best-seller in the market everyone loves, and it might be at a price that is out of reach for a lot of people.
Print-on-demand technology makes it so easy to do a small amount of yardage, it can be tempting to just print a yard or two of someone else’s design, or something close to it. How would anyone find out? Maybe no one would, but it’s not worth the risk. It is unethical and also illegal.
What should you do if a client asks you to copy a design?
- Say no.
- Say no to doing something so similar that it may as well be the same. For example, if the entire design is the same, but there is a rose instead of a tulip, that is still considered copying.
- Talk to your customer about what they like about this particular design. Ask a lot of questions to figure out what makes this design so special. Is it the color, the shapes, the amount of empty space? Is it the movement, the motifs, the overall vibe? Is it the watercolor technique, or special line work?
- With the answers you receive, give them other design options. Either have someone on your design staff create something for the request, or try to find an existing design with a similar vibe. If the color is what they love, maybe it’s as easy as recoloring an existing pattern to include that color.
- Educate your customer on the ethical reasons you cannot copy a design. And just as importantly, educate them on the value of good design. The one they love is a beautiful design, but it’s not the only beautiful design out there. Working with talented and skilled designers will help you have high quality designs available for any customer’s specifications.
Good design is valuable and should be respected. When you refuse to knock off a designer’s work, you’re acknowledging that value. You are also making an important statement about your company’s values and morals and establishing a reputation for quality. Everyone deserves to have their work respected and by taking a stand against knocking off, you’re doing just that.
Kristen Dettoni is the founder and CEO of Design Pool LLC, the only pattern library created exclusively for interior designers. Since 1996, Kristen has worked for mills throughout North America, designing fabrics for automobiles, furniture, and home furnishings. She developed the first sustainable upholstery fabric for office interiors, the first sustainable upholstery fabric for automotive interiors, and was awarded a patent for automotive suspension seating. Kristen believes strongly in the power of good design to transform our environments and experiences.