I'm not normally the type to go all fawny over MCM classics; in fact I sort of reflexively recoil from the painting-by-numbers approach some take towards interior decorating. But I'm working in a very eclectic and difficult space and with some of the other design choices we've been making, even though I haven't traditionally loved it, I'm starting to think the Noguchi coffee table is really the best fit for my formal seating area.
My dilemma is that I'm not particularly keen on plunking down the $1,500 for an "officially licensed" Herman Miller version when there are a plethora of less pricey reproductions out there. One I see frequently is a "Tribeca" and there are even other cheaper ones.
I'm generally very respectful of copyrights and IP - I may be one of the only people in the world who's never downloaded an mp3 file "illegally." But I'm trying to understand what the IP around this design (not to mention other MCM classics) exactly means. I presume official design patents and/or copyrights have expired, but I don't know. And if so, then what does "officially licensed" even mean? For the extra $500 - $1,000 that Herman Miller commands for this, are they paying royalties to the Noguchi family?
Obviously, I'm also concerned about the accuracy and quality of the reproductions. Looking at photos on the web, it does appear that some of these may be subtly different than the original. The legs look thinner, or curved slightly differently, or the glass may not be as thick. I'm not sure if only the Herman Miller repros have the Noguchi signature on the glass - is this what you're paying the extra dollars for? I also need the quality to be there - it has to look good and be well-made to last for some time. I also have a child in the house, so the proper tempered glass is a necessity.
These are concerns for aesthetic reasons, of course, but I'll also be frank: I also don't want to be the chump with the Noguchi "inspired" table or the obviously chintzy copy.
Ultimately, I'm looking for help understanding the ethics and aesthetics of this choice so that I can make an informed, intelligent choice. The easy answer is to just pony up, but if I'm just ponying up to satisfy a nonexistent ethical issue and am only lining DWR or Herman Miller's pockets by doing so, I'm not sure I see the point.
Thanks in advance for any help.