Affordable Design

I am a college student (industrial design), and ever since I developed my own style, i wont accept anything in my room that i dont love.

Sometimes i’ll go to a friends house, and even though i know they have good taste in clothes, or movies, or music… sometimes i truely wonder “how can they STAND to have that hideous lamp sitting by their bed everyday?!”
Well i guess that’s what Designers are for… the problem is in the world of design, what youre paying for in a object USUALLY tends to bemostly the actual design, not necessarily the creation process or material…(not in all cases). But a lovely mushroom-shaped acrylic lamp doesn’t cost $2000 dollars to make, and the acrylic itself doesnt cost $2000 dollars… the design does.

What I’M interested in… is a designer or store that carries design products that are not only attractive, but that work well and are affordable!! I mean this in the sense that they be accesible to younger people, like me (college or highschool students). I am a SUPER object-conscious person, and i dream of having the most famous and lovely objects in my home, but lets face it, some of them are yearss and thousands of dollars away.

well, i live in Chile, but when I lived in the states i remember that Target was pretty design-conscious and i purchased many lovely things from there that were pretty cheap too, i remember one designer, Isaac Mizrah for target… bu i think he was mostly clothes. I’d love suggestions to stores, or even designers that have joined forces with stores to sell fun affordable products… Someplace i can buy furniture for my home that isn’t 3 month’s rent a piece! :mrgreen:


Try Blue Dot They are not as cheap as Target, sorry, but more affordable than many design stores like Design Within Reach. For dining room chairs for example: the chair chair has a nice and clean design while it is affordable. They sell only their own contemporary design, no mid century classics. If they send the furniture to Chile, you will have to find out. This is their own website. They do sell through stores as well.

It will make you drool, or take a road trip… Watch CL, and Estate sales for good pieces.

Many people have either a bad taste when it comes to designing interior of their home or they hardly care about it. I think selection of furniture, color of the room and other things matter a lot as it helps a lot to keep the environment positive and lively.

Hm yeah, in my experience there’s a lot of design-unconscious people that just get whatever seems to fit what they need at the given situation. Then there’s people who like nice objects but have no sense of how to put it all together. Then there’s, usually more welfaring, people, who design their entire interior up to the smallest detail according to a picture in their mind. And as a result the whole thing looks overcomposed and unliveable. And often turns into a mess after a while.

I carefully select the pieces for my interior little by little, I try to think of the specific function of a piece and whether it can take over functions of other pieces, so I can minimize the amount of stuff in my home. It doesn’t have to be expensive, what I do is buy a few eye-catching design items that I truly love, and fill the rest in with more standard stuff from, mostly, Ikea, and some from other stores, or used goods stores, or furniture that family and friends don’t use anymore and happen to fit within my interior. Be careful for the ‘Ikea tipping point’, after a certain percentage of Ikea stuff your entire room looks like it’s from an Ikea catalog. I don’t buy any stuff with ornaments from Ikea, only functional, rectilinear things that don’t draw any attention to themselves. The nicest thing to do for your interior is to create your own furniture though, it can be much cheaper that way if you have the appropriate (wood/metalworking/sewing) equipment.

This is a good thread to revive just to share cool deals.

Blue Dot has a neat line with Target, called “too”

because you know, Minneapolis… Not always the cheapest spot to look Wright Auctions has a “cheap” auction every year called Mass Modern a good deal can be had there.

Your a designer make it yourself! A skill saw, drill and pencil will get you very far in life.

Oh, I love Muji. They need to open up a store here in the Netherlands :angry:

Some other affordable brands that sometimes have nice design items for in the home are Umbra, Koziol, Joseph&Joseph (love the Y-shaped pepper mill I got), and Kikkerland. In my experience the quality is good. It’s just that for many of these brands’ items they’ve tried a bit too hard to give it a design or some fun aspect and then it just doesn’t work anymore for me, but some products are lovely.

Be careful for the ‘Ikea tipping point’, after a certain percentage of Ikea stuff your entire room looks like it’s from an Ikea catalog.

Truer words have seldom been spoken. Of course isn’t just “Ikea”.

As a "“designer” I’ve always been attracted to well-designed objects, regardless of their age. Most recently our digital kitchen scale died. On the verge of replacing it with another electronic version, I remembered an old spring scale that was my great-grand parents’; easily a hundred years old and still functional. And while it will not convert ounces to grams, it is capable of measuring fractions of an ounce … which is more than close enough for kitchen work.

The funny thing about most of the outrageously priced mid century modern furniture for sale in premium catalogs is that those pieces were designed to be affordable. A lot of those chairs were designed for public places like schools where you needed something to be durable and inexpensive because they might need to order hundreds of them.

There are some really good “replica” sites out there (they are all replicas by the way).

Another good source in the US is craigslist. Don’t search for Mid-Century Modern, or Eames though… search for “weird plastic chair” and you just might find a gem for next to nothing! The hunt is part of the fun. A friend of mine searched for “weird metal light” and she ended up getting an Arco light for about $200. An official reproduction would have been $2,500 or so.

I disagree about knock-offs … Most look similar, but are lower quality, and have zero resale value. Buy a real Eames Lounge today for $4000 and it will be worth the same in 1 year. Buy a knockoff for $800 and the next day it’s worth $200 at best. A vintage Eames lounge is often worth more than a new one, BTW.

Cost, like “good” design is relative. A $2000 lamp may not cost $2000 to make, but you are paying for the originality of the design. Same way a designer may take 15 min to come up with a great design, but 25 years of experience is what allowed him to do it.

Vintage is the way to go, if possible.

I can’t imagine the vintage or online furniture options are the same in Chile as in N. America, but either way, my advice would be to start collecting early, and better to buy less good, expensive pieces than more cheaper ones. Consider it an investment in your future happiness. I started collecting furniture and objects in University, and now, 15 years later, I have a loft full of stuff I love and I know will be with me for a lifetime.

I can only say that in 15+ years of collecting, I have never regretted paying too much for something I love. 10 years later you won’t remember how you had to save up or eat noodles for a month. I have only regretted paying to little and settling for something I didn’t love, a copy, something “temporary”, etc. Maybe just me, but I feel worse throwing out a $15 IKEA table I used for 6 months, than throwing down $2000 on a chair I’ll have until I die.

The hunt is part of the fun. Consider it a long-game. Start early, buy often and in 15 years you’ll have a drool worthy collection, lots of stories and have the satisfaction of knowing you have a solid foundation to grow on, while your friends start from scratch or make due with IKEA.


What’s the saying? “Quality will be remembered long after the price is forgotten.” We still have two pieces of furniture we bought because they were cheap and we needed something. They will be gone this year, leaving nothing but stuff I’ve designed, stuff from other local guys or high quality manufacturers, and a few vintage/antique pieces. Took about 15 years to get there.

I’m in love with Scandinavian furniture at the moment, it’s pricey to get where I live but if you ever had an opportunity to get your hands on a swedish design called Skandium, I tell you if God made furniture… it is BEAUTIFUL

All about the second-hand. Craigslist is hit or miss, but find a vintage or antique shop with a well-curated collection, develop a relationship with the owners, and they will keep an eye out and call you when they find something you will like. Junk stores are a ton of fun and architectural salvage shopping is a great Saturday, but garage sales can be a waste of time. Estate sales, however, are much nicer and you can find some real gems.

The IKEA PS line is interesting. Don’t know how the quality is in reality though.

I am also in the same situation, I don’t have a lot of products in my room because I am waiting until I have a bigger budget.

So I thought I’d give this thread a bit of a bump (6 months isn’t too bad) after picking up a couple of knock-offs after relocating back to the UK and realising all my worldly possessions apart from clothes could fit in to a large Home Depot box. It’s time I started buying my own furniture, that wasn’t from IKEA.

Although I do agree with Richard that there is a lot of stuff that can’t be knocked off like an Eames Lounge chair there is plenty that is passable. Sometimes it just isn’t worth paying full retail or waiting around for that perfect item to pop-up from some ebayer that doesn’t know what they are selling.

Recently I ordered a knock off/reproduction Arne Jacobsen ‘AJ’ Lamp and an Eames DSW chair. Here in the UK the Conran store sells the chair for £329 and the lamp for £547. A total of £876 on two pieces of furniture. I paid £60 for the lamp and £30 for the chair, both brand new and realistically saved myself £786.

Now I admit, the chair has a few minor details that are a little off. Mainly the hardware and the wooden legs are a bit pink, however the lamp is spot on and to be honest only myself and other very design conscious people might be able to spot that they are knock offs. Most of my friends wouldn’t notice and will probably think I splashed out a lot of money.

Anyway, the point I’m getting at is I am very pleased with these two items, they didn’t break the bank, they aren’t IKEA and they look fantastic. Some knock offs do the job when you know exactly what designer item you are looking for.

You didn’t save £786. You spent £90 on items that may have temporary utility, but aren’t worth anything to anyone but you or the scrapyard and will likely not last.



The chair I 100% agree with but given that I am of the “instant gratification” generation I’m pleased with the purchase and will fully get my £30 out of it. The alternative was an IKEA chair as this was an item I needed there and then, not something I could shop around for even though I do intend going forward to try and find those gems.

The lamp however you genuinely cannot tell the difference and to be honest I don’t think I could justify the expense for a desk lamp of this nature. I’m sure it will last for a number of years as well, just as long as the electrics don’t fry out but I am sure the ‘guts’ are no different than a legitimate version and probably safer than an old original. Again, it was something I knew that would look great but isn’t hitting my wallet.

Maybe saying it was a saving was wrong, but to the point of the original post and to the many young designers/people such as myself there are ways to get that ‘look’ without a) breaking the bank b) trying to strike lucky on eBay/a market/side of the road. To your point as well they do mean something to me and in all honesty I didn’t buy them as a monetary investment, more an investment in myself/my eyes.

With Replicas, Homages, Reproduction, Knockoff, Fakes. Whatever you want to call them.

The most important thing is how does it make you feel. If you’re buying them to impress your friends, to pass them off as real, or as an investment. You’re gonna have a bad time. It’ll never be 100% the same and it will annoy you or make you paranoid.

But if you buy them for yourself, because you want to own that design aesthetic. Then you’ll be happy and thats what really matters.
Most of the world doesn’t care, what clothes you have, what watch you wear, what furniture you have, what car you drive. When you get on the highway your just another car.

This is actually true with just about everything we buy/consume.