Have we met?
The blogosphere has been buzzing over the conspicuous and astonishing theft of Landor’s City of Melbourne mark for Shenzhen’s Fantasia MIC Plaza.
Popping up on Chinese design site AD110.com in mid Janurary, the two identities are shown side-by-side to properly showcase their similarities. And by similar – I mean they are entirely and perfectly identical.
It is unclear which side of the opinion fence AD110 falls. A visit to Babel Fish reveals “ad110 does not express this limits reason! If you unclear, the god horse is the floating clouds bird!”
So, is imitation really the greatest form of flattery? China thinks so. In fact, to copy appears to have little social stigma in China. Perhaps that explains its enormous counterfeit industry, a result of little understanding or respect for the idea of intellectual property.
In China, there is no stigma at all attached buying or seven selling pirated goods – even with phoney brand names like Sone instead of Sony. The government quietly tolerates pirating and fake good manufacturing to some degree because they provide employment for large number of people laid from state-owned enterprises.
Obviously, in this case, China’s ethos has extended to identity design counterfeit and I suppose the question should be why are we surprised? Moreover, why are we outraged?
It does seem silly to get worked up over a blatant logo rip-off when there are knock-offs that can cause physical harm, even death, when dealing in counterfeit pharmaceuticals or automotive parts.
And where do we draw the line? While the City of Melbourne logo has been reproduced in its entirety on the MIC plaza hoarding and signage – with the proliferation of online commentary, nowadays no designer is safe.
Seems like with every new brand launch there is an accompanying torrent of plagiarism accusations. Ironically, when the City of Melbourne identity was launched, it too was the subject of such claims – being compared to a 2004 brand identity for the now defunct business, Merchant Logix.
And more recently, the identity designed for the Rio 2016 Olympic games came under fire for vaguely recalling the famous Henri Matisse painting, ‘The Dance’ – a link that seems tenuous at best.
So what do you think? At what point does ‘inspired by’ become ‘totally ripped off’? Should we be encouraged to be more inventive and distinct when creating new brands in order to avoid nebulous accusations? Or is recycling a great idea in another form acceptable?