It’s a Grey Area

I love Design*Sponge. I really do. I think they have such creative ideas and I love the articles they come up with. They’re so unique and really can get those juices flowing when I’m feeling uninspired. One of my favorite d*s segments is ‘before & after’. Talk about creativity! The people featured can come up with the greatest stuff and make it seem–for the most part–like I can do it too!

So I was excited to head to the site to check out the latest installments. They had one featured today about a guy who upgraded his daughters nursery. For the first time ever, this before and after gave me a little sick feeling in my stomach. Maybe it’s just me being an over-sensitive designer.. who knows. Maybe you all can help me decide!

So, his inspiration for the room was a Kate Spade interior that he had seen in a store somewhere. He really loved the flower wallpaper but it was too expensive for him. So he snapped a picture of it, took it to a copy place and got it enlarged in various sizes. After (painstakingly) cutting them all out, he glued them on the wall in a pattern to make it look like the wallpaper he wanted. Before I get into the nitty gritty, I’d like to say that I think this method of putting a pattern on the wall is genius. I’ll give him props there. The thing that bothers me is the seemingly blatant copyright infringement of Kate Spade.

After reading the comments on Design*Sponge, I start to go back and forth. This guy isn’t selling the pattern (although he is telling the reading population of d*s how to get the designer wall paper at a fraction of the money, none of which is going to the designer). Maybe my biggest complaint would be with the blog. This is supposed to be a place where designers go to showcase their work, get inspired and collaborate with others. I’m not sure they should have posted a room make-over like this. It’s almost saying that they condone plagiarism. One commenter said:

 I wish [the owner] had used the Kate Spade flowers as inspiration and then found a similar old wallpaper pattern or image that wasn’t copyrighted. The flowers look similar enough to patterns I’ve seen before, so I know they are out there.

On the flip side, another person said:

John would only risk a copyright lawsuit if he tried to mass-produce and sell this look. Don’t let the thought police cramp your DIY projects.

Which brings me back to my final thought: while this was a great idea and the end result turned out amazing, I don’t think Design*Sponge should have published this particular article because by doing so, they helped make the product mass produced. If it were just in John’s home with no one else seeing it except for the visitors that came over, I would have no problem with this. It’s the fact that a reputable design blog put this up for the world to see.

I would love to hear all your thoughts on this!


PS: I tried to find a picture of the original Kate Spade wallpaper to see how similar it really was, but couldn’t find one.

4 responses to “It’s a Grey Area

  1. Bill B

    Hmmmmmmm! Interesting. I think if he used it in his own home he would get away with, but when taking it out to the public through a blog; it is giving him some benefit, be it economical, his reputation or notoriety. So I think ethically it is probably wrong that he did so. But I am unfamiliar with copyright laws, and I know they apply differently from media to media, i.e. from music to trademarks, etc. And you can get away with using someone’s copyright when using their words by giving the original idea credit, which he seemed to do. Like how we quote other authors in our college papers or talking about a new song in a newscast. So probably not illegal, and now that I think about it as my thoughts flow, he did give credit where credit is due, so maybe not even unethical/wrong! Enjoying your blog so far Ms. Davis!

    • Good point Bill! It’s like artists who sample other people’s songs and make tons of money off of that. And you’re totally right–he didn’t try to deceive anyone into thinking it was his pattern or artwork. Thanks for reading 🙂

  2. I’m digging the new blog too, Kellie! Honestly when I saw this post today on Design*Sponge I was only looking at the photos of the room and didn’t read the text about the knock-off DIY wallpaper application…and I was pretty much just fixated on the lower two pictures hanging there on the wall, thinking that the scale was all wrong, and that I didn’t like the disco ball. But that’s just me 🙂

    • Hahah! I love that you have a critical eye Elisabeth 🙂 You’re just like me!

      Thanks for commenting! I love your blog too. I tried to make a comment the other day, but I couldn’t figure out how to do it without creating a user name! Now that I have one I’ll have to stop by and say hi.

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